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Troubleshooting FAQ

Troubleshooting Sound Issues

  1. My sound card doesn't make any sound and I show no conflicts.
  2. I can hear WAV files and games just fine, but CD-audio can't be heard.
  3. I upgraded to Windows 2000 and my sound card doesn't work right.
  4. I have a 4-speaker sound card but can't get any more than 2 speakers working.
  5. There is only sound coming from one speaker.
  6. General Sound Troubleshooting
  7. Half of audio volume is missing
  8. I have no sound in Vista after applying an update

 Use the information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of use"

My sound card doesn't make any sound and I show no conflicts.

Check your volume settings. If you have an older sound card, you may have a slider volume adjustment on the back of the card. Check this. Also go to your Volume Settings for Windows and make sure all options are un-muted and that the volume sliders are not set to min. Check your speaker volume as well or try different speakers.

[Windows XP]: You can try restoring your system to the default audio settings by using a simple registry tweak. Click the "Download Now" button and select Run from the resulting menu. Click "Yes" when prompted to restore the default settings.

WARNING: As always, be sure to make a backup copy of your registry prior to making any changes to it.

Restore to Default Audio Settings


I can hear WAV files and games just fine, but CD-audio can't be heard

You probably don't have the wire between the sound card and the CD-ROM connected. Open up your PC and make sure a wire is there that leads form the AUDIO OUT on the back of the CD-ROM to the CD-IN on the sound card. Also, make sure you don't have CD-AUDIO muted our turned down in your Volume Settings.


I upgraded to Windows 2000 and my sound card doesn't work right

Some sound cards are not yet supported by Windows 2000 or are just having drivers released for them. the thing to do is check out the manufacturer's web site and look for drivers specifically for Windows 2000.


I have a 4-speaker sound card but can't get any more than 2 speakers working

First, be sure it is not a speaker problem. If not, then you probably need to go into the settings for your sound card and enable 4 speaker setup. sometimes, though, even this doesn't help. I recently had this problem involving SB Live! in Windows 2000, and as I said in the previous question, installing the specific drivers fixed the problem.


There is only sound coming from one speaker

You are probably using a mono plug for stereo speakers. Either that, or the driver may not be loading correctly. On some systems, if your sound card drivers are not loaded in CONFIG.SYS, you will only have left-side sound.


General Sound Troubleshooting
Tutorial #1:

Listed below are some basic steps to help restore sound to your computer. This troubleshooting guide assumes that your computer has no sound at all.

  1. If you have Windows XP or Windows Me, use the System Restore feature to return the computer back to a time before the issue began.

Using System Restore

  1. If you added hardware or software to your computer immediately before the issue started, remove the added hardware or software. Be sure to turn off the computer before removing hardware. As with any problem that arises with computers, reversing a process that started a problem may correct the problem.
  2. Be sure to check the obvious: 
  • Are the speakers turned on and have power?  
  • Try unplugging the speaker power adapter and keep it disconnected for 30 seconds or so, then plug it back in. 
  • Try plugging a known working item (such as a lamp) to check the wall outlet for power. 
  1. Check to insure that the Mixer Control volumes are set to 3/4 volume and are not muted. Analog or digital can be set in the Mixer Controls, depending on the type of sound card and speakers used.
  2. Make sure that all connections to all speakers are fully seated. Usually, these plugs click twice before the fully seat.
  3. Try plugging in a known working set of head phones to ensure that the sound card is functioning.
  4. Try plugging in the speakers to a known working portable CD player that will accept the same connection. This will determine if the speakers are working.
  5. Go to: Start>> Control Panel>> Administrative Tools>> Component Services>> Services. Make sure audio is enabled.
  6. Go to: Start>> Control Panel>> Administrative Tools>> Services>> Windows Audio. Make sure "Windows Media" service is running. If it's not, right click on this service and select "Start".
  7. Go to: Start>> Control Panel>> Sounds and Audio Device Properties. Be sure that the "Mute" checkbox is unchecked.

Update Software:

Many sound problems are resolved simply by downloading the latest version of the Windows Media Player and/or Internet Explorer directly from Microsoft to use as a baseline test.

If you are using Microsoft Media Player, it may be useful to check for any recent updates. To do that, just start the Media Player, click on "Help", then click on "Check for Player Updates..", and it will automatically download any updates.

Or, you can download the latest Microsoft Windows Media Player for both PCs and Mac for free from:

Also, since old versions of web browsers may have limitations or problems, check for any web browser updates, and upgrade to the latest version of your web browser. For Microsoft products, the current status of your software can be verified by the Windows Update web site at:

Reset the default BIOS settings:

You can try resetting the sound default in the BIOS. Here's how:

Note: For most PC's entering the BIOS will be the same. If the instructions below do not work for your system, consult your operating manual for instructions on entering the BIOS.
  1. Turn the PC on. When the Windows logo first appears, press the F1 key repeatedly until you see the BIOS setup screen appear.
  2. Press the F5 key.
  3. Select Yes or OK, then press the Enter key on your keyboard.
  4. Press the F10 key, then select Yes or OK to save the default settings. Press Enter.
  5. Exit the BIOS and restart your system checking for sound.


Tutorial #2:

This document applies to Microsoft Windows 98, ME, and  XP.

There are many reasons why sound can disappear. The steps inside this document fix a wide variety of sound failures. Perform the steps in order until you can hear sound from the speakers. This document pertains to original sound devices that came installed on HP Pavilion computers. If a sound card was added, consult the sound card vendor's Web site for support information and driver updates.

Step 1: Checking volume and mute settings:

The volume setting for one or more sound devices might be disabled or set too low. Use the following steps to adjust volumes to their correct levels:

In Windows XP, click Start, and then click Control Panel.
In Windows 98 and ME, click Start, click Settings, and then click Control Panel 
In Windows XP, open Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sound and Audio Devices.
In Windows 98 and ME, open Sounds and Multimedia, and then click the Audio tab. 
In Windows XP, click the Advanced button under Device Volume.
In Windows 98 and Me, click the Volume button under Sound Playback. 
Remove all checkmarks from Mute boxes at the bottom of the Master Volume window and adjust the volume setting slide bars to their highest positions. Close the Master Volume window and test for sound. If there is still no sound, go to the next Step. 

Step 2: Verifying the connections:

Use the following steps to verify that the sound cables are properly connected from the speaker to the computer (cable connectors and plug assignments are normally color-coded to aid with connections).

Unplug the sound cable. 
Plug headphones or one speaker directly into the speaker out connector on the back of the computer. The speaker out connector may have a symbol of a speaker 
or a circle with an arrow pointing out, or it may just say "OUT" next to it. Test for sound using the computer. If sound does not work, go to "Step 3: 

If sound is restored when the headphones or one speaker is plugged in, replace the original sound cable with a new sound cable and test for sound. Sound should be restored after replacing the sound cable. If sound does not come back after replacing the cable, the sound card needs to be replaced because the speaker out connector is bad.

Step 3: Configuring on-board sound in the BIOS:

Some computers come with sound on the motherboard (on-board), and some computers use a sound card. The on-board sound setting in the BIOS has to be set according to your particular sound configuration. Perform the following steps to correctly configure the sound in the BIOS:

Look at the back of your computer and use one of the following three items to determine the proper sound configuration and sound setting: 
If the plugs for the speakers and microphones are located next to the parallel, serial, or USB ports, then the computer has on-board sound. The on-board sound setting in the BIOS should be Enabled. If the plugs for the speakers and microphone are located away from the other ports and sit in an area by themselves, the computer has a soundcard. The on-board sound setting (if there is one) in the BIOS should be Disabled. If the computer has sound plugs in both locations, a 
soundcard has been added to the computer that already contains on-board sound. The on-board sound setting should be Disabled. To enter the BIOS, turn on the computer and when the first screen appears, press the F1 key repeatedly until the BIOS Setup screen opens. Use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys to select the Advanced tab. Press the DOWN ARROW key to select Onboard Audio Options and press ENTER. If Onboard Audio Options is not available, select I/O Device Configuration and press ENTER. If Audio Codec is listed, select it and press ENTER. Select either Enabled or Disabled depending on your 
configuration and press ENTER. Press the F10 key and then press ENTER to save and exit Start Windows and check for sound. If there is still no sound, continue to the next Step.

Step 4: Restoring the sound drivers

Use the recovery process to restore individual drivers for a sound or combination sound-modem card. 

If the computer came with recovery discs (Windows 98 and Me), place the last disc of the set into the top disc drive and follow the on-screen menus as they appear. Restart the computer after restoring the sound driver software and test for sound. If there is still no sound, continue to the next Step.

Step 5: Installing an updated sound driver:

Go to your computer manufactures web page to search for updated sound driver software. Read the instructions on the download pages carefully 
before installing.

If there are no updated sound drivers available, use Microsoft's Windows Update feature. Connect to the Internet and try the following items until Windows Update opens:

Click Start, and then click Windows Update (if it is listed). 
Click Start, click Settings, and then click Windows Update (if it is listed). 
Click Start, click All Programs, and then click Windows Update (if it is listed). 
Go to Microsoft's Web site and click Windows Update from the Downloads menu.
If either Web site does not contain updated drivers, continue to the next Step.

Step 6: Removing the drivers in Safe Mode:

Turn on the computer and press the F8 key repeatedly, every half of a second, until a menu appears. Select Safe Mode and press ENTER. The Windows desktop displays Safe Mode in all four corners of the screen. 
In Windows XP, click Start, and right-click My Computer.
In Windows 98 and Me, right-click the My Computer icon on the desktop. 
Click Properties from the list that appears. 
In Windows XP, click the Hardware tab then the Device Manager button.
In Windows 98 and Me, click the Device Manager tab. 
Click the plus sign (+) next to Sound, video and game controllers.

Click a sound device name other than audio codecs and Legacy Audio Drivers, and then click Remove. In Windows XP, the Remove button is a small picture of a computer overlaid by an X. Click OK on the warning windows that appear. Continue removing sound devices until all devices are removed. If the device is a combination sound-modem card, remove the items under Modem as well.
NOTE: Do not remove audio and video codecs.

Click OK in Device Manager when there are no more items to remove under Sound, video and game controllers. 
Close all programs and restart Windows. Go to the next Step.

Step 7: Reinstalling the sound drivers

Upon rebooting, Windows will find new sound hardware. If a window appears stating that Windows needs help finding a particular file, you can browse using the following pathnames until the file is found: 


Click "Continue Anyway" on any Digital Signature Verification windows that may appear. 
Restart the computer and test for sound. If the problem remains, then try reseating your sound card. Also, try placing your sound card into a different slot. If you are still having trouble up to this point, the problem is likely that you have a faulty sound card.


Half of audio volume is missing


I have a Dimension 4600, 1gb RAM, Windows XP, with and ADA745 sound system. For about 1 years everything was fine, but a few months ago, half (or more) of my audio volume disappeared. The volume is so low I can't even hear the audio on the other side of my room. I've tried absolutely everything. I've checked the hardware configuration, cable connections, speaker volume knob, volume control/wave and every other conceivable volume control and nothing makes any difference whatsoever. There's nothing I haven't checked and nothing is wrong anywhere. Except for the low volume, the sound quality is perfect, and it doesn't matter whether I'm playing a CD, playing a downloaded MP3, listening to streaming audio. Nor does it matter which media player I'm using: WMP, Winamp, MusicMatch, RealAudio - it's all the same.

The only possible clue is this: Although the volume is now low all the time, for a period of a few months, every once in a while, totally at random, the volume would suddenly surge way up to where it was supposed to be, and then after only a few seconds, go back down to its usual low level. This made me suspect a hardware problem - a bad connection or loose wire, but no amount of fiddling with the wires and plugs has indicated this. Is it possible that there's some gizmo or circuit inside the subwoofer that's faulty? If that were the case, though, I'd expect there not to be any volume at all, rather that only half or a third.


It sounds like your Volume Potentiometer has a bunch of build-up on it. The Volume Potentiometer is a small circuit board that the volume knob is attached too. Try carefully taking the speaker apart, unscrew the little circuit board that the potentiometer is attached too, and blast it with some canned compressed air. Reassemble and test it.


I have no sound in Vista after applying an update

Q: I have a new laptop. After installing some recommended updates to Vista my sound no longer works. When I place my cursor over the sound icon in my taskbar it says that there are no drivers installed for this device. How can I get my sound back?

A: There are a few things that you can try to restore your sound:

Method #1:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Right click on Computer
  3. Select Manage
  4. Select Device Manager
  5. Expand the entry titled: Sound, video and game controllers
  6. Right click you sound device
  7. Select Update Driver

Reboot your system when the driver has installed successfully. If you still have no sound continue below.

Method #2:

Since it is a new laptop, you can visit your manufactures web site to install new updated drivers. Once the new driver has installed successfully, reboot your system. If you still have no sound, continue below.

Method #3:

Try performing a System Restore to restore your systems configuration back to a time before the problem occurred.


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