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August 31, 2006

How to Fix Computer Speakers

If your having problems with your computer speakers try the basic troublehshooting yourself. It's a great way to avoid paying for costly PC repair. The guide below is for computers running Windows XP Home, Professional, or 64 bit editions.

Check to see if your PC is still under warranty. If it is, DO NOT PROCEED. The help provided below may void your warranty. Contact your service provider if this is the case.

If no sound is coming from the computer, start troubleshooting your problem. Make sure both your computer and speakers are plugged in, have power, and are turned on. If the speakers are plugged in but do not appear to have any power, plug them into a different outlet. If you are using a power strip and this is case, replace the power strip. Some speakers are self powered and use a USB cable to supply power. Make sure that the USB cable of your speakers is connected securely to the USB port of your computer.

Once you have verified that you have power to your speakers, test the sound again. If you still do not have any sound, make sure the cable connecting the speakers to the computer (known as a 1/8" TRS cable) is plugged into the green audio output jack on the PC.

As it is with any troubleshooting process, the issue can sometimes come down to the hardware itself. If you have an add-on sound card and none of the hardware or software fixes helps, you may have to replace the sound card. If you use on-board sound, it will probably pay to purchase an inexpensive sound card rather than a new motherboard. If you've been messing around in the BIOS, you may have disabled your on-board sound if that's what you're using. If you don't know what BIOS means, you probably haven't been there and can move on.

Before we move to software, let's try two more hardware fixes. If you are using self-powered USB speakers, remove the USB cable and plug it into a different USB port. If you are using outlet powered speakers and have a working set handy, replace the non-working speakers with the working pair to test. If you still have nothing, let's move on to software.

Go to your desktop. Click Start > Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices > Volume tab. If everything is grayed out, go to step 8. If the "Mute" box is checked, un-check it. In "Device Volume" make sure that your volume level is set to a comfortable volume level for your speakers.

Click the "Sounds" tab. Under "Sound Scheme" check to see if "No Sounds" is selected. If it is, click "Sound Schemes" and a drop down list will appear. Select "Windows Default" as the scheme. To test your sound now, click on a sound listed below the "Program Events" window. These will be indicated by a small speaker icon located next to them. Simply left click the sound once, then click the play button. If you hear sound, congratulations. If not, move on.

Click the "Audio" tab. Under the "Sound Playback" option, make sure your sound card is selected as the default playback device. Usually, only one device appears here, unless you have multiple playback devices installed.

If everything is grayed out, you either do not have a playback device installed or your drivers are corrupted and need to be replaced. Drivers help hardware and software function together.

The next thing to check is your sound drivers. Open your start menu and find the My Computer icon. Right-Click on it and choose Properties from the submenu. Click on the Hardware Tab and then the Device Manager button.

Expand the Sounds, Video, and game controllers heading to find your sound card. The name will depend on what sound card is installed on your PC. It will most likely have a name containing "Audio." It should look something simliar to the example above. You'll know immideately if there is a major driver error because an "!" will show over the card's icon.

Once you have determined the name of your sound card, double click on it to open a new window. In the new properties window click on the Drivers tab. If there is no drivers tab then you chose the wrong sound device. Go back and try again. On the driver tab, click the driver update button. Follow the Wizard's instructions on screen to update your driver.

If you already have the most recent driver; click the uninstall driver button. When you restart your computer the driver should reinstall automatically.
You can also contact the manufacturer of your PC for the most recent audio drivers. They can usually be found online.

The second thing to check is the Windows Troubleshooter. On the Drivers tab mentioned in the step above, there is a button for troubleshooting the device. Click on that button and follow the instructions on screen.

The last thing to check is the sound card itself. Disconnect all cables on the back of your PC except for the power cable. Open up the CPU and make sure you touch the metal box that the power cable plugs into. This will discharge any static electricty you have built up. Now unplug the power cable.

Locate the audio plug on the back of your PC and on the other side (inside of the computer case) should be the sound card. Remove the sound card and put it back in. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/games/learnmore/installsoundcard.mspx has detailed directions for installing a sound card. Removal is the reverse of installation. Once you have the sound card back in, reattach the cables your unplugged earlier and boot your PC.

If your sound card is built into the motherboard the DO NOT try to remove it. Your entire motherboard will need replaced if the sound card is the problem. Another option is to buy a seperate PCI sound card and install it.

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