You launch a PC game or stream a movie, but you don’t hear any sound. On the surface, there’s no apparent reason for the lack of audio. This guide shows you how to fix sound problems in Windows 10.
Unfortunately, sound issues can be tricky. Problems could merely reside in third-party software, requiring a patch. Issues could also stem from within Windows 10 itself or the underlying hardware. Possible fixes include installing new drivers, tweaking settings, or even revert to a previous restore point.
This guide begins with the easy steps and moves deeper into Windows 10 if you continue to face audio issues.
Check for Simple Fixes First
There’s nothing more embarrassing than yelling at the PC over sound issues stemming from an unintentional press of the microphone’s mute button.
First, verify that the sound isn’t muted on the PC end. If your keyboard has volume controls, press a key or turn a slider to see if the on-screen volume bar raises and lowers. You can also bring up the taskbar to examine the “speaker” icon parked next to the system clock.
As shown below, an “X” next to the virtual speaker icon means your audio is muted. Simply click the speaker button to expand the volume panel.
Next, click the speaker icon to the left of the slider to unmute.
You should also verify that the sound isn’t muted or turned down on the hardware end. For instance, your speakers may have volume buttons, or they may be accidentally unplugged from the PC or power outlet.
Likewise, your headset or microphone may include in-line volume dials that are turned down, or they may just be unplugged from the PC.
The example below shows a Logitech headset’s in-line controls for sound (dial) and a built-in microphone (toggle).
Another simple fix is to verify that the problem isn’t related to a specific app or program installed on your computer. There may be something wrong with the app or program itself that needs patching or audio is turned down or muted from within.
This example shows muted audio on YouTube.
Other fixes you can try include installingall Windows 10 updates or restarting your PC.
Verify the Default Audio Device
Generally, you should only have one installed audio device. However, the list stacks up once you begin piling on external devices like the HTC Vive, a wireless Xbox controller, a headset, and so on.
There may be situations where you switch from a headset to a laptop’s built-in speakers, but Windows 10 still outputs audio through your disconnected headset.
You can verify the default audio device in one of two ways: from the taskbar or through the Control Panel.
The Taskbar Route
Click on the “speaker” icon next to the system clock. You’ll see a name listed above the volume pop-up panel. Click the name to reveal a pop-up list labeled “Select Playback Device” and choose a different audio device until you hear a sound.
If none of those work, move on to the “Run the Troubleshooter” step.
The Control Panel Route
Hit the Windows key, type “Control Panel” in the taskbar’s search field, and select the Control Panel desktop app in the results. Next, select “Hardware and Sound” on the main Control Panel menu, followed by “Sound” on the next panel.
The Sound pop-up window appears on the screen. Make sure your audio device is set as default. If not, single-click on the device listing to select and then click the “Set Default” button. Next, click the “OK” button to finish.
Run the Troubleshooter
Windows 10 offers a built-in troubleshooter that scans the system and offers potential fixes.
Press the Windows key, type “Audio” in the taskbar’s search field, and select “Find and Fix Problems with Playing Sound” in the results. This opens a troubleshooter in the Control Panel.
You can also access this troubleshooter by going to Start > Settings > System > Sound > Troubleshoot.
After the troubleshooter scans for audio devices, select the device you want to troubleshoot and click the “Next” button.
Windows 10 scans for issues. Follow any available directions to resolve your audio problems.
Reboot the Audio Services
Tap the Windows key, type “Services” in the taskbar’s search field, and select the Services desktop app in the results.
In the Services window, you’ll need to restart three services:
- Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
- Windows Audio
- Windows Audio Endpoint Builder
For each service, single-click to select, right-click to open the service’s menu, and then select the “Restart” option. If “Restart” is greyed out, try the “Refresh” option instead.
Turn Off Audio Enhancements
These “enhancements” provided by audio hardware vendors and Microsoft aim to deliver the best experience possible. However, they could be the underlying issue.
Type “Control Panel” in the taskbar’s search field and select the resulting Control Panel desktop app.
Select “Hardware and Sound” on the main Control Panel menu, followed by “Sound” on the next panel.
Select your audio device listed under the “Playback” tab and right-click to open a menu. Select the “Properties” option at the bottom.
Once the Speakers / Headphones Properties window appears, click on the “Enhancements” tab. Check the box next to “Disable All Sound Effects” (or “Disable All Enhancements”). Confirm the change by clicking the “OK” button.
If this doesn’t work, you may not have the right audio device set as the default. Follow the Control Panel route instructions to set your default audio device. If that still doesn’t work, move on to the next step.
Change Audio Format
The current audio format may not work correctly with your PC’s hardware. To see if this is the case, type “Control Panel” in the taskbar’s search field and select the resulting Control Panel desktop app.
Select “Hardware and Sound” on the main Control Panel menu, followed by “Sound” on the next panel.
Select your audio device listed under the Playback tab and right-click to open a menu. Select the “Properties” option at the bottom.
Once the Speakers / Headphones Properties window appears, click on the “Advanced” tab. A drop-down menu appears in the “Default Format” section. Select a different format and click the “Test” button to see if a different format works. If it does, click the “Apply” button, followed by the “OK” button.
If changing the audio format doesn’t work, move on to updating your audio driver.
Update the Driver
There are two ways to update your audio driver. Many pre-built PCs from Dell, HP, and more install a “command center” application that scans your device and installs updated drivers.
For instance, Alienware PCs ship with SupportAssist that scans for outdated drivers, hardware issues, and so on. Run these applications to check for driver updates.
The second approach is to update the driver through Device Manager manually. To begin, right-click on the Start button and select “Device Manager” on the pop-up menu.
Select and expand the “Sound, video, and game controllers” entry to list all available audio devices. Click once on your primary device—this example uses Realtek Audio—then right-click to open a pop-up menu. Select the “Update Driver” option.
Select “Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software” in the following window.
Alternatively, you could search the sound card manufacturer’s website for new drivers and download them to your PC. If you take that route, choose the “Browse My Computer for Driver Software” option instead. Simply direct Windows 10 to the download location.
Another “Browse My Computer for Driver Software” option is to install compatible drivers from a list. Thus, instead of entering a download location, click the “Let Me Pick from a List of Available Drivers on My Computer” option.
Make sure the “Show compatible hardware” box is checked and select one of the listed drivers in the following window. Click the “Next” button to finish.
Uninstall and Reinstall Your Audio Device
Remove your audio device altogether and let Windows 10 detect and reinstall the appropriate driver.
Right-click on the Start button and then select “Device Manager” on the context menu.
Once Device Manager appears on your screen, select and expand the “Sound, Video, and Game Controllers” entry. Click once on your primary device—this example uses Realtek Audio—then right-click to open a pop-up menu. Select the “Uninstall Device” option and reboot your PC.
Windows 10 should reinstall the appropriate audio driver after the reboot. To check, return to the Device Manager and see if your audio device appears under “Sound, Video, and Game Controllers.”
If it’s not there, single-click to select the category followed by a right-click to open a pop-up menu. Select the menu’s “Scan for Hardware Changes” option.
If your audio device still doesn’t appear, you likely have hardware issues a driver update/refresh can’t address.
Perform a System Restore
Lastly, if all else fails, hope that Windows 10 created a restore point before your sound issues began.
Type “Restore” in the taskbar’s search field and select “Create a Restore Point” in the results.
Click the “System Restore” button on the following System Properties window to launch the service.
A System Restore window appears on the screen. Click the “Next” button to continue.
In the next step, click the box next to “Show More Restore Points” and select a restore point dated before you began experiencing audio issues. Click the “Next” button to continue.
Click the “Finish” button, and Windows 10 will proceed to restore your PC.
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How do I reset my Windows sound system? ›
- Open the Settings app and click Sound, then scroll down to select More sound settings.
- This will open a new menu that lists out all your audio output and input devices. ...
- In the pop-up that appears, click the Advanced tab, then click Restore Defaults at the bottom.
There are several reasons your laptop's audio may not be working: The volume could be muted. The internal speakers could be malfunctioning. Windows may be sending sound to the wrong audio device.How do I reset all the sound on my computer? ›
- Check your audio and sound source. ...
- Go to sound settings. ...
- Check external speakers. ...
- Turn to a Windows troubleshooter. ...
- Go to sound settings to run troubleshooter in another way. ...
- In the sound settings screen, check the Volume mixer. ...
- Click the Reset button. ...
- Check the sound control panel.
Typically the receiver's connection is stalling due to over-utilization. Alternately, the listener's audio equipment may be malfunctioning due to a faulty cable or jack that is injecting noise or gaps into the stream.Why is my audio messed up? ›
The problem may be from simple human errors, such as improper level settings, misaligning microphones, recording too loud, and more. Even if you keep your setup relatively error-free, noise, RF interference, rumbles, and faulty equipment can distort your sound. Making audio sound immaculate after distortion isn't easy.How do I Reset my Realtek audio settings? ›
- Find Your Realtek Driver in Device Manager. Open the Device Manager and go to your Sound, Video and Game Controllers. ...
- Manually Rollback to Previous Versions. With the driver information up, click the Driver tab at the top of the menu. ...
- Restart Your PC Again.
If you're experiencing issues with your audio, resetting your PC may help resolve the issue. A reset will restore your PC to its default settings, which can help fix audio problems. However, a reset will also erase any personal files and data on your PC, so be sure to back up your files before resetting.How do I update my audio driver? ›
- In the search box on the taskbar, enter device manager, then select Device Manager.
- Select a category to see names of devices, then right-click (or press and hold) the one you'd like to update.
- Select Search automatically for updated driver software.
- Select Update Driver.
Step 1: Right-click on the Start button in the taskbar area and then click Device Manager to open the same. Step 2: In the Device Manager, expand Sound, video and game controllers tree. Step 3: You should now see your audio driver's name. Most likely you have Realtek High Definition Audio.What are the two symptoms of audio system failure? ›
- No Sound Or Distorted Sound From Speakers. ...
- Surround Sound Directions Seem Wrong Or Audio Does Not Work. ...
- Music Lacks Treble Or Bass. ...
- Audio Volume Gets Too Loud.
How do I reinstall sound drivers Windows 10? ›
Right-click on your audio source name and click Uninstall Device. Once it's been removed, right-click on Audio inputs and outputs and select Scan for hardware change. This action should re-install your inbuilt drivers.How do I Reset my sound volume? ›
Select Start and Settings. Select System > Sound > Volume mixer. Select Reset under Reset sound devices and volumes for all apps to the recommended defaults.How does audio get corrupted? ›
Your audio's metadata can become a primary cause of audio corruption across your computer. If you would have intentionally or accidentally changed the metadata or header of your audio file, that can cause a distortion across your audio file and corrupt it.Why does my audio randomly cut in and out? ›
Defective hardware or improper network configuration can cause audio to cut in and out. If the problem occurs on one phone, the underlying cause can vary from equipment to network configuration. If audio cuts in and out on multiple phones, the issue is likely network related.What does Realtek audio driver do? ›
This package contains the Realtek High Definition audio driver. Audio driver is the software that helps your operating system to communicate with audio devices such as internal sound cards, speakers, headsets, and microphones.Do I need Realtek HD Audio Manager? ›
It is not necessary to enable Realtek HD Audio Manager on startup. When you connect a device, it will quickly launch and identify the device. If you want to open Realtek HD Audio Manager later or it doesn't automatically pop up, you can go to Control Panel to find and open it.How do I troubleshoot Realtek audio? ›
Alternatively, you can go to Device Manager > Sound, video, and game controllers > expand the category > right-click Realtek High Definition Audio > Update driver > Search automatically for driver > Windows 10 will automatically begin updating the latest driver available in the database > Restart the PC to apply ...How do I know if my audio driver is corrupted? ›
Check the drivers' list and expand the list if necessary. Look for the driver that has a yellow question mark. This mark indicates which device has a broken or corrupted driver. Once you find the corrupted driver, right-click on it and select Update driver from the context menu.How to reinstall audio driver to fix sound problems in Windows 10? ›
If the issue still persists, kindly go to Settings>Update & Security>Windows Update. If there is a "View optional updates", click it. Next, click on Driver updates and see if your audio driver is listed there. If so, check that driver and click on "Download and install".How do I fix a corrupted audio driver? ›
- Update your audio device. If you're having audio problems, then updating the audio device can help you resolve the issue. ...
- Uninstall and Reinstall the Audio Drivers. ...
- Disable 'front panel jack detection' in Realtek audio manager.
Why is my Realtek audio not working Windows 10? ›
Update Realtek High-Definition Audio
Common sound problems on Windows are outdated, corrupt, or missing drivers. To fix this issue, downloading and installing the latest driver is recommended. This can be done either manually or automatically.
A reset can reboot your product or it can clear locally-stored product settings, such as paired device lists.Do sound systems go bad? ›
Loudspeakers, like all audio equipment, will eventually wear out. Higher quality parts will offer longer lifespans than lower quality parts. However, the most important factor when it comes to speaker longevity is the general care of the loudspeaker.How do I know if I need to update my audio drivers? ›
Click on the Start button in the lower left and choose Settings. Next, click on Windows Update & Security. You can check for updates here. If any audio drivers are found, they will be installed automatically.How do I change my audio driver to Realtek? ›
1) Go to Device Manager. Open the “Run” dialog box by pressing and holding the Windows key, then press the R key (“Run”). 2) Expand category “Sound, video and game controllers” by click the arrow that is point right as seen below. Under this category, right-click on “Realtek High Definition Audio” or “Realtek Audio”.How do I enable audio drivers? ›
- 1) Right click the sound icon in your system tray (or task tray)
- 2) Open sound settings.
- 3) Manage sound devices.
- 4) Click on the devices you'd like to enable or disable.
- Make sure your microphone is connected to your PC.
- Select Start > Settings > System > Sound.
- In Input, select the microphone that you want to test.
- In Input settings, look at Input volume while speaking into the microphone.
The most common audio driver for Windows 10 is the Realtek HD Audio Driver. The audio is of high quality and supports sample rates of up to 192 kHz and 24 bits, enabling you to experience superior sound quality compared to that of a standard 16-bit/48-kHz CD.What do damaged speakers sound like? ›
The most common aural indication of a blown speaker is an unpleasant buzzing or scratching sound, by itself or roughly at the pitch of the note the speaker is attempting to reproduce.How do you test if your speakers are blown? ›
A multimeter tester helps you figure out if the cone or voice coil is damaged. Set the meter to ohms, make sure the speaker is turned off, and touch the lead of the multimeter to the speaker terminals. A multi-meter reading of 1.0 ohms means the speaker is not blown, but a reading of infinite ohms means it is blown.
How do I Reset my Windows volume mixer? ›
Select Start and Settings. Select System > Sound > Volume mixer. Select Reset under Reset sound devices and volumes for all apps to the recommended defaults.How do I get the sound back on my HP laptop? ›
Right-click the notification area speaker icon , and then select Troubleshoot sound problems. Select the device you want to troubleshoot, and then click Next to start the troubleshooter. If a recommended action displays, select Apply this fix, and then test for sound.How do I normalize Windows Sound volume? ›
Select the output device and click the Properties button. Click the Enhancements tab. Clear the “Disable all enhancements” option (if applicable). Check the “Loudness Equalization” option to normalize the volume on Windows 11.Does Windows have a built in audio mixer? ›
Microsoft has also added a new Windows keyboard shortcut (Win + Ctrl + V) to open the mixer directly. The mixer allows users to quickly switch between audio outputs (i.e. headphones, speakers, etc), as well as adjust the volume of individual apps and toggle spatial audio technologies like Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos.Why did my HP laptop lose sound? ›
Outdated Audio Drivers of your System can be the main cause behind the audio on your HP laptop not working. You can try and update the drivers, and see if it fixes the issue or not.How do I reinstall sound drivers on my HP laptop? ›
In Windows, search for and open Device Manager. Double-click Sound, video and game controllers. Right-click the audio device, and then select Update Driver. Click Search automatically for updated driver software to check for and install a driver.How do I reinstall audio drivers Windows 10? ›
Right-click on your audio source name and click Uninstall Device. Once it's been removed, right-click on Audio inputs and outputs and select Scan for hardware change. This action should re-install your inbuilt drivers.