Troubleshoot PC Speakers when They Stop “Speaking” - dummies

Troubleshoot PC Speakers when They Stop “Speaking”

By Dan Gookin

The biggest issue with computer sound is not hearing anything. The solution is to follow a step-by-step process for eliminating the cause.

  1. Ensure that the speakers are connected to the computer.

    Are the speakers plugged into the right jacks? Are the speakers plugged into a power source? If a subwoofer is connected, is it plugged in? Is it getting power?

  2. Test the speakers as follow:

    1. Right-click the Volume icon in the notification area.

    2. Choose Playback Devices.

    3. Select a playback device, such as your PC’s speakers.

    4. Click the Configure button.

      The Speaker Setup dialog box appears.

    5. Click the Test button.

      You should hear tones from the left speaker and then the right speaker.

  3. Check to see whether the speaker’s volume control is turned up enough or that a hardware switch doesn’t mute the speakers.

  4. If you have another set of speakers, swap them out with the current set to see whether the speakers themselves haven’t died and left behind a silent shell.

  5. Check the Windows volume control.

    Is the volume high enough? Is the volume control muted?

  6. Check the volume mixer or volume control to ensure that individual audio devices haven’t been muted.

    The volume mixer or volume control allows you to set levels for various sound-generating items in the computer, such as the MIDI player or built-in synthesizer.

    To display the volume mixer in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, choose the Mixer link from the pop-up volume control.

    To display the volume control in Windows XP, right-click the Volume icon in the notification area and choose the command Open Volume Control.


    Ensure that individual devices haven’t been muted. Also confirm that the volume isn’t turned all the way down.

  7. Check the sound hardware configuration.

    Some PCs with speaker jacks on the front and back have to be configured to allow audio input from either place. For example, your PC may allow speakers to be plugged in the rear jacks but not in the front jacks at the same time.

    When your PC has this type of configuration, use the special sound software that came with the computer to confirm that all the sound jacks are working as you expect. (It’s not a Windows-specific solution.)

  8. Confirm that the sound device is working properly.

    Use the Device Manager to confirm whether the sound hardware is hinkey.

  9. Check newly installed software that produces sound, such as games and sound utilities.

    Some programs may interfere or override Windows’ own sound settings.

  10. Update the audio device drivers.

Things go wrong in a computer when something changes. If the sound just went out, try to recall what you just changed. It may help lead you to the solution.

  • If you have trouble listening to an audio CD, the optical drive may have a problem. Some older CD-ROM drives had a separate cable for carrying the audio signal. You might want to open the case to ensure that the cable hasn’t become disconnected.

  • Some speakers use both the green audio jack and the USB connector. That’s because power is drawn from the USB connection. (The audio signal comes from the audio jack.) These speakers are mute when either the audio or USB connection isn’t made.

  • If the computer has never made sound, contact its manufacturer or dealer.