For most users, sound is a vital component of a computer system. Whether you enjoy listening to newly purchased MP3s while working or like to crank up the volume while playing the latest game, sound helps immerse you in the computer experience. When the audio stops working, it can be a nuisance, but you can take steps to diagnose and correct the issue. In most cases, there's a system configuration, conflicting program or hardware issue causing the problem.
Check your speakers' user manual and verify you have the speakers connected properly. The simplest speakers have a single plug that inserts into the "Line out" jack on the back of your computer. Complex, surround-sound speakers may have multiple connections on the back of the computer, as well as multiple connections on the speakers or subwoofer. Some computers have an integrated sound chip and an upgraded sound card; both of these have a "Line out," so make sure you use the correct one. More than likely, the correct one will be the sound card add-on, which is located in a separate area from all the motherboard connectors, such as USB, mouse, keyboard and Ethernet.
Check that the speakers are plugged in and powered on, if applicable. Most external speakers have some kind of power connection. On laptops, that power connection more commonly comes from USB.
Turn up the volume on the speakers. Almost all external speakers have some kind of volume control. Laptop speakers sometimes have a physical volume control on the side of the laptop.
Look at the "Headphone" jack on your computer and make sure you don't have a pair of headphones plugged in. When headphones are connected, sound to the speakers is automatically disabled.
Look for volume controls in your sound program, such as a media player, game or audio editing software. Likewise, check the system volume by clicking the speaker icon in the Windows 7 notification area. A red circle over the speaker icon means sound is muted. If the volume slider is too low, sound can also seem muted. Click "Mixer" to access individual program controls and check their volume levels.
Right-click the speaker icon, select "Playback Devices" and make sure you see a green check mark next to your listed speakers. If not, right-click the grayed out speakers and select "Enable." If you don't see any speakers, right-click the center of the window and check "Show Disabled Devices."
Click the "Start" button, type "device manager" and click "Device Manager." Double-click "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" and look for a yellow exclamation point by the sound card entry, which indicates a problem. If there is a problem, right-click the sound card, select "Update Driver Software" and follow the instructions. Alternatively, note the name of the sound card and download updated drivers from the manufacturer's website. If you recently reinstalled your operating system, a lack of drivers is the most likely cause of the sound problem.
Make sure the card is enabled in Device Manager. Right-click the sound card entry and select "Enable;" if you see "Disable," the device is already enabled.
Click the "Start" button, type "system restore" and click "System Restore." Follow the prompts to restore your computer to an earlier time. This will fix problems associated with a recently installed program or driver.
- In the Playback Devices window, click "Configure" to run through a setup wizard to optimize your sound system.
- Your sound could also be disabled in BIOS, which is accessible by pressing a hot key during boot up. This is not likely the cause of your problem, unless you manually changed BIOS settings. If you did, revisit BIOS and enable your sound card. Be careful if you have an integrated sound chip and an upgraded sound card. You only need one enabled. The sound card is typically listed as a PCI or PCI-E device, whereas the integrated sound is usually listed under "Integrated Devices."
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