No Sound? Don’t Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

dead headphones   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer SpeakersUsing your computer seems like a purely visual experience, but the aural experience is surprisingly important as well. You may not notice how important it is until the sounds disappear suddenly. Then, there’s a sudden recognition that something is not quite right, or if you’re playing a game, that something is terribly wrong. Half of your computing experience just vanished!

There’s no sound coming from your speakers. What happened? Where’d it go? Don’t panic. The chances are that it can be fixed and usually fixed for free, if not for a low cost.

Don’t Ignore The Obvious

Check For Mute

Check to make sure you haven’t just muted the sound. Seriously. With many laptop and touch screen devices it is amazingly easy to make the wrong touch or keystroke and the system sound gets muted. Or just turned down really low.

mute1   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

Check The Plug

It’s not muted? OK, are you using external speakers or headphones? If you are, you’ll want to make sure that the plug is fully seated into the port, and that it is the correct port. Often the microphone port is right beside the speaker port, so check that clearly. If the plug is seated nice and firmly, then you’ll want to check your headphones or speakers to see if they have their own volume control. It might have got turned way down accidentally while dusting or shooting Nerf guns. Who knows?

speaker plug   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

If it’s the device’s own speakers that appear not to be working, then external speakers can still be a problem. Most devices will shut off their internal speakers when an external speaker is plugged in. Maybe you plugged your earbuds into the back of your computer and forgot they were there. Take a look. If you find them there, unplug them and try the speakers again.

Desktop computers can also have multiple plugs to put your speakers into. I’ve had a few where there were ports on the front and back but only one set of them worked. Maybe that’s the issue. Try plugging your speakers into the different speaker ports to see if that resolves anything. Usually the speaker port has a green grommet around it. They didn’t always have that, so it was nice when that came along.

speaker port2   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

Check The Power

Nothing is muted and the speakers are plugged in to the computer properly. Good, the next thing to check is if there is a separate power supply for your computer speakers. Many speakers today have such high output that they need their own power supply. Check to make sure that the power supply is properly connected to the wall and to the speakers and that there is power. Usually there will be an indicator light when the speakers are turned on.

Check The Speakers

The chances are that you have access to another device that will drive sound to your speakers or headphones. Try the new device with a pair of speakers or headphones that you know work. They work? Good, now try the speakers that aren’t working on that device. If they don’t work, then yes, chances are the problem is your speakers or headphones.

If they do work, then you need to look deeper into your original device and see if the problem lies there.

My Problem Is The Speakers. What Now?

Get New Speakers

If your speakers truly are blown, I’d recommend replacing them. Unless you are really handy with a soldering iron and want to give repairing them a try, I don’t see how it would be worth it to try to fix them. Honestly, I’m pretty handy with electronics and I’ve tried speaker repair. They just never sound the same, there always seems to be the slightest little buzz or distortion to the sound – just enough to annoy me but most people might not notice it. Which is weird, because my hearing isn’t that great.

girl soldering   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

Or Get Your Speakers Repaired

This advice is easy to give if you’re just using some retail store headphones or gaming speakers, but if you’ve got a nice set of Bose speakers or something high end, contact the place you bought them. Chances are they can repair them properly, or at least point you to someone who can.

My Problem Isn’t the Speakers. What Now?

The answer to this isn’t always the same answer. It depends on the device that you have or even the operating system of the device. It also depends on the cost of the device too. Let’s break this down by device, shall we?

MP3 Player/Phone

What kind of MP3 player is it? How old is it? Has it taken a beating? How much would it cost to replace it? In many cases, you may be dealing with a $50 device that’s a few years old. If you suspect that it’s simply a firmware issue, go online to the manufacturer’s website and see if there are instructions to do a system restore. They may even have new firmware you can put on the device.

Hopefully that’s all it takes, but if not then you have to look at either repairing it or replacing it. I think my dollar cut-off would be around $100. Anything over that and I consider getting it repaired, anything under that and I consider getting a new one. I say that because repair costs usually seem to cost around $50 or more just to have someone look at the device.

Computer/Tablet

Start getting familiar with sound card drivers and system sound settings.  If you’re using a Windows system, doing a simple Windows Update may do the trick. Often, Windows Update will detect if there are new drivers needed for your sound card, and will install them for you. Or you can navigate to the sound card through Device Manager and check there to see if the sound card is enabled and the driver is good.

If they are USB speakers, check your USB drivers while you’re in there.

windows device manager   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

That didn’t work? Maybe you still have the CD that came with your sound card. That will have the drivers on there. Or you can go to the sound card manufacturer’s website and look for new drivers for your device. Once you find a driver that works, you may want to back that driver up, so you have it in the future.

If you’re handy inside a computer case, you may want to take a look at the sound card and make sure that it is properly seated into the slot on the motherboard. Many sound cards are simply soldered to the motherboard, but the higher end cards tend to plug in.

If you’re on a Mac, you can run Software Update. That will identify your sounds devices and download and install the appropriate drivers. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to call the Geniuses.

software update   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

If you’re on a Linux or other operating system, chances are that you know more about the sound card drivers than I do. If not, each major distribution seems to have pretty good community support online where I’m sure you’ll find friendly assistance.

Stereo Or Sound System

The repair or replace method is pretty much the same here as with the MP3 players. Is it an off-brand Wal-Mart $150 special or is it an earth shattering Onkyo sound system that’s worth more than my car? The former I’d just replace, the latter I would take to a specialist to be repaired.

high end stereo   No Sound? Dont Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers

Is your sound back yet? Bass pumping and people jumping? Can you hear every skull-shattering headshot? Hopefully, this article helped you in getting things going again. If it did, share it with a friend and let us know in the comments. If it didn’t help, let us know why, so we can pass that information along to others in need as well.

If you’ve come across something odd or different in your search for sound, let us know about that too, in the comments. We might be able to help you out!

Image Credits: Speaker Plug via cdedbdme @ Flickr, Speaker Port via WilliamHook @ Flickr, Skull via Shutterstock, Girl Soldering via SparkFun @ Flickr

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

16 Comments -

1 votes

Jeremy Garnett

If you’re using Windows, don’t forget to check the Services.msc, to see if the Windows Audio service has been stopped.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

Good call!

0 votes

dragonduder

Good article! Another tip: back on my old Gateway laptop the sound would randomly go out for some reason and a reboot would only sometimes fix the problem. After tinkering with it for years, I discovered that going to Windows Services and restarting the service called “Windows Audio Endpoint Builder” would work 9 times out of 10. I always restarted the “Windows Audio” service too, just in case.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

I should have covered services in this article, but it was getting a little long winded already.

0 votes

Elijah Love

Great article! There are, however, a couple of things you missed. In Windows 7 (and 8, I think), you can designate a separate sound device (internal laptop speakers, headphones, HDMI out, USB, etc.) for communication programs like Skype. When you go into the Sound preferences dialog, you can set a different device as your default communications device. However, if you change your default sound device or unplug USB and HDMI speakers often, Windows might start routing sounds for these to the wrong devices, and simply unplugging and plugging something won’t help. It’s a good idea to check the Sound preferences dialog (right click volume icon in tray, playback devices) and make sure Windows knows where sound is supposed to be going before checking the hardware. Another thing about Windows 7 is that applications can have independent volumes, and sometimes using a communications program (like Skype) will lower or mute the volumes of other applications (like Chrome and iTunes). In order to remedy this, you have to go into the full mixer (click [Mixer] at the bottom of the volume popup) and check the volumes for each program. This particular feature can be turned off under the Communications tab in the Sound preferences dialog.

0 votes

Scott M

Nicely written.Thanks for the information about sound preferences.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

True, Audacity is also like that.

I’m glad you mentioned that. This is exactly why the comments section is so important. We can all help each other out this way. Thank you!

0 votes

Nevzat A

A forgotten headphone jack sometimes the source of no sound from speakers, LOL :)

1 votes

Guy McDowell

I only wrote that because…I’ve done it. I’m not proud of that fact, nor the fact it took me about a half-hour to figure out at the time.

0 votes

Scott M

Great article.With myself its almost always the mute turning on accidentily.You are right about starting with the obvious.All electricians check to see whether the plug is in the wall before looking for another problem.

1 votes

Guy McDowell

Years of work as an instrumentation technician, electrician’s apprentice, aircraft mechanic, and IT guy have ingrained that into me.

If someone gets really upset when I ask them to check that, it is almost always the problem. ;-)

0 votes

Chris Marcoe

This is great info. Too often, the sound is missed on a computer. But its pretty important to me.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

Thank you. We are terrifically unaware of how important sound is to us, until we lose it.

0 votes

macwitty

Bookmarked! Will go through it step by step when friends call and are desperate that they do not have any sound. Well, I can probably send the link to some but other becomes desperate that they are unable to read and check – they need someone to hold their hand

0 votes

Onaje Asheber

Thanks a lot for the info. Makeuseof has some really good info that can be aplied.

0 votes

jerdix

i have a problem my computer.there is no sound from my computer and even if i put speakers on it,still has no sounds.i check everything,but still no solution..please help me..i dont know what to do…..