Many sound problems are caused by hardware that isn't set up properly. This step covers checking your sound card, plugging cables into the correct locations, making sure the hardware has power, and checking the volume.
1. Check your sound card
Check to make sure your computer has a sound card, or sound processor, and it's working properly.
Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security, and then, under System, clicking Device Manager. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
- 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 according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- If you think you have a sound card installed but you don't see it under the Sound, video and game controllerscategory, expand the Other devices category and check the 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.
- Right-click the name of the sound card, and then click Properties.
- 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 Step 3: Update drivers.
2. Check if the cables are connected properly
3. Check power and volume
If you have speakers, make sure they're plugged into a working power source and turned on.
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.
Open Volume Mixer by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then, under Sound, clicking Adjust system volume.
- Move the slider up to increase the volume.Make sure the Mute button isn't turned on. If the button looks like this: , muting is turned off. If the button looks like this: , click it to turn off muting.
- 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.
In some cases you might have several volume controls to check. For example, if you're using Windows Media Player it has its own volume control, Windows has a volume control, and your external speakers have their own volume control. If any of these volume controls are set to their lowest setting, you won't hear any sound.
For Windows to recognize your sound card or sound processor, it needs a compatible and properly working driver. An outdated, incompatible, or damaged driver can disrupt communication between the PC and the sound card.
If you recently upgraded from one version of Windows to another, it's possible that the current sound card driver was designed for the previous version of Windows. If you've had recent power outages, viruses, or other computer problems, it's possible that the drivers have become damaged. Downloading and installing the latest sound card driver for your sound card can help resolve these types of problems.
Here are three ways to install a driver:
- Use Windows Update. You might need to set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended updates. Installing any important, recommended, and optional updates can update system features and other software that might help fix your sound problems.
- Install software from the device manufacturer. 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 more information about updating your sound card driver, follow these steps. For information about devices that are compatible with Windows, go to the Windows Compatibility Center
To update the driver using Windows Update
Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Update.
- Click Check for updates.
If there are any available updates, click the links to see more information about each update. Windows Update tells you if an update is important, recommended, or optional. Each type of update might include drivers.
- On the Select the updates you want to install page, look for updates for your sound card, select the check box for the driver that you want to install, and then click OK.
There might not be any available driver updates.
- On the Windows Update page, click Install updates. . If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Windows Update will tell you if the updates were successfully installed.
- Some updates require you to restart your computer.
To download and install a driver yourself
If Windows can't find a driver for your sound card or sound processor, and the device didn't come with driver software, you can look for a driver on the manufacturer's website. Driver updates are often available in the support section of such websites.
To locate the driver, find the manufacturer and model name or number of your sound card, and then visit the Hardware and software vendor contact information
website. Once you find your manufacturer, go to its website and locate and download the latest driver for your sound card.
If there's an updated driver, follow the installation instructions on the website. Most drivers are self-installing-after you download them, you usually double-click the file to begin the installation, and then the driver installs itself on your computer.
Some devices have drivers that aren't self-installing. If you download a driver that isn't self-installing, follow these steps.
You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.
- Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
- In the list of hardware categories, find the device that you want to update, and then double-click the device name.
- Click the Driver tab, click Update Driver, and then follow the instructions. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.