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Why Won’t My Computer Play Sounds Anymore?

Saturday, March 16th, 2013 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, System Tune-Up Help
 
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Mary from Tallahassee, FL writes:

A few months ago, my computer lost its ability to play sounds (yes, I have been mute for that long). Over that time I’ve checked everything I can find that appears to have anything to do with sound. Every device, driver, etc. states that they are functioning properly. Still I have no sound. Do you have any idea what could have caused me to lose sound or how to fix it? Any light you can shed on this problem will be most appreciated.

Sound that has suddenly gone out, especially when you’ve already checked the drivers and they are functioning properly, may be caused an overlooked culprit: the hardware itself. Before going through a potentially lengthy troubleshooting process, there are a couple of quick and easy issues you can check that may be the root of your problem. First off, simply unplug your speakers and plug in a different set, as there’s no reason to be playing around with your settings if you have an issue as basic as dead speakers that need to be replaced.

If the hardware isn’t the issue, it’s time to move onto to the software side of the troubleshooting process. Many computers feature a keyboard shortcut that lets you quickly change the volume, such as tapping“FN” and the “4” key to raise the volume. Try tapping this keyboard combination a few times to ensure the volume hadn’t been lowered through your computer’s operating system.

If you aren’t sure what your computer’s keyboard shortcut consists of, click the speaker icon in the taskbar at the lower-right corner of your screen.

The Volume Bar

Check to see if the small image of a speaker in the pop-up menu has a red line through it. Click the image if the line is present to turn off the “Mute” feature, and then drag the volume bar up to raise the sound level.

Click the “Mixer” link at the bottom of the menu if volume was already up and the “Mute” feature wasn’t turned on. Check to make sure all of the volume bars in the “Mixer” panel are raised up loud enough that you can hear sound. Click the “Speakers” icon located directly underneath the “Device” heading to bring up a new window featuring additional speaker settings.

The Mixer Window

Locate the “Device Usage” drop-down menu at the bottom of the window. Open the menu and make sure the option is set to “Use this Device (Enable)” and click “OK.”

Enabling The Speakers

If the problem persists, return to the window and navigate to the tab labeled “Levels.” Drag the volume bar towards the right to manually raise the system volume, and click the speaker icon to turn off the mute setting if the button has a red line through it.

The Levels Tab

To continue troubleshooting, close the window, open the “Start” menu, and click the “Control Panel” button.

Control Panel

Click the green heading named “Hardware and Sound,” which is located below the “Network and Internet” heading at the middle of the screen.

Hardware and Sound

Scroll down to the “Sound” heading and click the blue link named “Manage Audio Devices” at the far right side of the window.

Managing Audio Devices

Highlight the option for your computer’s speakers and then click the “Configure” button at the lower-left corner of the window.

Configuring Audio

Look through the options in the “Audio Channel” box and locate the configuration that matches your speaker system, such as “Stereo” for a two-speaker setup or “Surround 5.1” if you use five speakers and a subwoofer. Click the appropriate option, and then click the image of the speaker to test the sound. If you have the wrong configuration chosen, your speakers won’t play sound correctly. Click “OK” to save the change and use the appropriate speaker configuration.

Selecting Audio Configuration

If you have a 5.1 or larger speaker system, you may have to select the correct audio configuration using the software that was included with your speakers, rather than the Microsoft Windows sound settings. The software for your speakers should be located in the “Start” menu under the “All Programs” heading.

~ Ty Arthur

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4 Responses to “Why Won’t My Computer Play Sounds Anymore?”

  1. Carl Russo says:

    All of the above things to do for DEAD AUDIO are OK but occasionally Sound cards die. on my system, the on-board sound components died and Windows said they’re working correctly. YES, Windows can LIE! Anyway, WOrldStart sold me a USB Audio adapter which works great. The adaptor cost about $25 but I now have sound. Myself being visually impaired, I need my PC to talk to me with the screen reader software that I have installed. So this little USB unit saved the DAY! It’s also not unusual for parts of a mother board to croke. on this PC, both the sound and ether-net are dead. The ether-net was fixed by a wireless dongle purchased guess where? Your first 2 guesses don’t count! :-)

  2. Keith Monson says:

    An issue I had with a laptop was that the headphone jack worked but the speakers did not, so I’d say try headphones and if you hear sounds with them then open Windows Media Player and check sound settings. For some reason WMP overrode all the sound settings on that Dell laptop.

  3. paul smith says:

    you may also wanna try going to control panel and find the audio device and try to “roll back” the driver…. i had a computer a while back that every time i got an automatic update from microsoft, it would goof up the sound driver- windows would not be able to detect a problem, windows thought everything was fine…. but if i licked the “roll back” button, my sound device would change from being listed in device manager as “realtec” to “AC97″ and start working again! i guess if “roll back” driver didn’t work, the “update driver” may do the trick ;-)

  4. Mary Mullins says:

    The speaker options menu on my Dell Inspiron 546, running Windows Vista Home Premium, 64-bit OS, have a slightly different set-up from what you described in the “Devices”, “Speaker” icon in the Mixer window; however,I was able to figure out a work-around. All 3 of the speaker devices were enabled, so I had to try each one with my speaker configuration until I was able to get one to make a sound when tested.

    By the way, we did try the suggestion for a different set of speakers and still had no sound, before going through your suggested trials in order to get the sound working.

    I have no idea how the speakers got changed, but thank you very much for the assistance.

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