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You have to firstly test your head phones on another computer.... If it works in another computer than firstly update your anti virus program and then re install your drivers.... If it does not solve the problem you can re plug the cable of sound card on mother board... If problem does not solved than your sound card might have problem.
You can get a set of speakers that has a headphone jack on front (it will shut off the speakers when headphones are in) or you can unplug the speakers and plug in the head phones. Some PCs have a red and green jack in front - plug in headphones to the green, you should have the speakers shut off till you unplug. All else fails they make a headphone/mic extender that sits like a hockey puck on the desk, has cables to the mic and speaker jacks on back of the PC and on the puck part has a jack for speakers, mic and headphone - some switched manually by you, some switch when the headphones plug in. If you had posted the model I could see if your machine has front red and green jacks.
Try here:http://www.computing.net/answers/windows- xp/headphones-amp-speakers-switching/55486.html Also:http://www.vistaheads.com/forums/microsoft-public-windows-vista-music-pictures-video/133605-sound-doesnt-switch-automatically-headphones-when-plugged.html Also:http://www.vistax64.com/sound-audio/198039-sound-doesnt-switch-speakers-headphones.html scroll down the page for the discussion.
Dear Jenneric2009, It would be too early to blame computer sound card for the bad sound quality .. here are few questions for you..
How are you listening to the sound.. I mean through desktop speakers or headphone or you have 5.1 speakers installed etc...
Did it ever work fine?
Do you have any DSP software installed on your computer to modify or enhance sound?
Does it sound the same when you listen it through various software.. For example does it sound the same when you play it in Winamp or in Windows media player ... This will tell us if it has to do with any settings on the player.
Did you relocate your computer/speakers?
Most probably it must be due to software settings where you can set the sound effect like as if you are in a bathroom or in a barrel or in an auditorium etc ... Please let me know if that helps and let me know about the additional information that I requested above.
If your headphones have a single plug you cannot plug these into a regular speaker connection or headphone connction and get mic and sound, you will need a headset that has 2 separate plugs (one for Mic and one for headphone) or a splitter you can get a radio shack. Most headsets have only one plug and there are connections for both the mic and the headphones on this plug, but the headphone connection on the computer has only connections for the headphone and therefore cannot detect the microphone.