Here are solutions to some common sound problems on your computer. These solutions can also help if you don't hear any sound coming from your speakers or headphones, or if there's a problem with the sound you do hear. For a step-by-step tutorial to help you identify and fix common sound problems, go to No sound in Windows.

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I can't hear any sound from my computer.

Try using the Playing Audio troubleshooter to fix the problem. It checks for common problems with your volume settings, your sound card or driver, and your speakers or headphones.

Open the Playing Audio troubleshooter by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under Hardware and Sound, click Troubleshoot audio playback. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Note

  • To make sure you have the most up-to-date troubleshooters from the Windows Online Troubleshooting Service, your computer should be connected to the Internet. For more information, see Troubleshooting in Windows.

I've run the Playing Audio troubleshooter and I still can't hear sound from my computer.

Here are some simple steps that might help you fix the problem:

  • Check to make sure your computer actually has a sound card, or sound processor, and it's working properly.

    You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

    1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security, and then, under System, clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    2. Double-click Sound, video and game controllers to expand that category. If a sound card is listed, you have one installed. If no sound card is listed, check the information that came with your computer to see if there's supposed to be a sound card installed. If there should be a sound card installed, you'll need to install one. See Install or remove a sound card.

      Notes

      • If you think you have a sound card installed but you don't see it under the Sound, video and game controllers category, expand the Other devices category and check any devices listed there.

      • Laptops don't usually have sound cards. Instead, they have integrated sound processors, which appear in the same category in Device Manager.

  • If there's a yellow question mark next to the name of the sound card in Device Manager, there might be a problem.

    1. Right-click the name of the sound card and then click Properties.

    2. Click the General tab, and then look in the Device status box to identify problems with the sound card.

      If there's a problem, you might need a new driver for your sound card. For more information, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

  • If you have speakers, make sure they're plugged into a working power source and turned on.

  • Make sure your speakers are correctly connected to the computer.

    Many computers have three or more jacks that connect to a sound card or sound processor, including a microphone jack, line-in jack, and line-out jack. Your speakers should be plugged in to the line-out jack. If you're not sure which jack this is, try plugging your speakers in to each of the jacks to see if any of them produce sound.

    Picture of microphone jack, line-in jack, and line-out jack
    Microphone, line-in, and line-out jacks on a typical desktop computer
  • Make sure that your speaker volume or headphone volume isn't muted or turned down too low. This is particularly important for laptops, which often have small speakers that can be hard to hear.

    1. Open Volume Mixer by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then, under Sound, clicking Adjust system volume.

    2. Move the slider up to increase the volume.

      Make sure the Mute button is not turned on. If the button looks like this: Picture of the Mute button turned off, muting is turned off. If the button looks like this:Picture of the Mute button turned on , click it to turn off muting.

    Note

    • Some laptops have an external volume control on the outside of the case. If you're using a laptop, check the external volume control to make sure it's not turned all the way down.

  • Make sure your headphones aren't plugged into the line out (headphone) jack of your sound card or computer (unless you want to be listening with headphones rather than speakers). When you plug in headphones, most computers automatically cut the sound to the speakers.

If these steps don't solve the problem, check the information that came with your computer or speakers, or go to the manufacturer's website.

I'm having trouble installing my sound card and wonder if it's compatible with Windows 7.

To find out if your hardware is compatible with Windows 7, go to the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. This website contains a comprehensive list of hardware and devices that have been tested to work with this version of Windows.

Sound from my speakers is crackling or distorted.

  • Make sure your speakers are correctly connected to your computer.

    Many computers have three or more jacks that connect to a sound card or sound processor, including a microphone jack, line-in jack, and line-out jack. Your speakers should be plugged in to the line-out jack. If you're not sure which jack this is, try plugging your speakers in to each of the jacks to see if any of them produce sound.

  • In some cases, you can work around the problem by disabling optional speaker effects that are known as enhancements. If disabling speaker effects solves the problem, you might need to update your audio driver.

If these steps don't fix the problem, check the information that came with your computer or speakers, or go to the manufacturer's website.

I have a sound card in my computer, but Windows doesn't recognize it.

For Windows to recognize your sound card or sound processor, you must find and install a compatible driver. Most sound cards and sound processors require driver software to work properly. Here are three ways to find and install a driver:

  • Use Windows Update. You might need to set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended updates.

  • Install software from the device manufacturer. For example, if your device came with a disc, that disc might contain software that installs a driver for the device.

  • Download and install the driver yourself. You can search for a driver on the manufacturer's website. Try this if Windows Update can't find a driver for your device and the device didn't come with software that installs a driver.

For instructions on how to do each of these, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

I found a new driver for my sound card, but I'm not sure how to install it.

Windows Update can search for updated drivers and install them automatically, but if you already have a new driver you want to install, you can do this yourself.

Most drivers today are self-installing—after you download them, you can usually just double-click the file to begin the installation. Software included with your hardware usually contains drivers that are installed automatically, but sometimes you might have to install a driver manually. Here's how:

  1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security, and then, under System, clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. Double-click Sound, video and game controllers to expand that category, and then double-click the device name.

  3. Click the Driver tab, and then click Update Driver.

I'm having trouble getting a portable music player, microphone, or other audio device to work with my computer.

You can connect a microphone, portable music player, or other audio device to your computer by using one of the jacks on the front, back, or side of your computer. These jacks directly connect to your computer's sound card or sound processor.

Most desktop computers have at least one line-in jack to connect a music player or other audio device and one line-out jack to connect speakers. These jacks typically appear on the back of a desktop computer. Many desktop computers also have a microphone jack, which is often on the front of the computer.

Most laptops don't have line-in or line-out jacks, but usually have microphone and headphone jacks located on the front or side of the laptop.

If you don't hear any sounds coming from an audio device you've plugged in to one of these jacks on your computer, check to make sure the jack isn't muted.

Picture of microphone jack, line-in jack, and line-out jack
Microphone, line-in, and line-out jacks on a typical desktop computer

For more information, see Connect a microphone, music player, or other audio device to your computer.

I've tried all the solutions here and still can't get my sound to work properly.

Some sound problems can't be solved by the solutions listed above. For example, problems can occur with specific models of hardware, such as a certain sound card, music player, or headset. It might help to check the Microsoft Support website to see if it contains any information about your sound hardware.

If you're stuck, here are some webpages to start with:

You can also check for support information on your hardware manufacturer's website. The manufacturer might have information about problems with your specific model of computer or sound card:

For more information, see Sound cards: frequently asked questions.

Article ID: MSW700065