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A Reader Asks:

After the Windows 10 Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Microsoft is sick of you not upgrading, and has a solution: Windows 10 will be the final "version" of Windows. Ever. This could mean that you will never again have to buy Windows. Read More upgrade process completes, my rear Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 speakers don’t work.

I found out about the issue when iTunes and Windows Media player didn’t play sound out of the rear speakers after the upgrade. The speakers produce sound when they are tested in Control Panel/Sound/Manage Audio Devices/Configure, but the applications do not seem to use them. How can I get the applications to use all the speakers?

I also configured the sound system to use 5.1 Dolby Surround in Speaker Setup (sound standards explained Dolby Digital, DTS, THX: Surround Sound Standards Explained Dolby Digital, DTS, THX: Surround Sound Standards Explained Although there are only three main players in the surround sound industry, each has their own subsets of technology as it relates to surround. Read More ) and tested that all speakers are working properly. As mentioned above, the speakers work fine, but the audio still won’t work. There’s just a buzzing from the rear speakers.

Kannon’s Reply:

When troubleshooting computer gremlins, technicians lump problems into two general categories: Hardware and software. I also include a third category called firmware, but that’s besides the point.

In your case we don’t need to know anything other than that your sound system’s underlying hardware works. Therefore, we must conclude that Windows 10 somehow broke your audio configuration (10 reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is coming on July 29. Is it worth upgrading for free? If you are looking forward to Cortana, state of the art gaming, or better support for hybrid devices - yes, definitely! And... Read More ). To get to the bottom of this mystery, a technician should list the peculiarities of the case:

  • The computer was upgraded to Windows 10.
  • Audio is not working in applications.
  • Audio works when tested in Manage Audio Devices.

Judging from the fact that your audio worked before the upgrade, we can safely speculate that the problem originates with the software and not hardware or firmware. Based on this data, we want to narrow the potential causes down through testing (which you’ve already done). We know that the Operating System (OS) recognizes the audio drivers, but for some unknown reason the OS doesn’t default to the correct audio hardware.

newsletter-customize-windows-10

For the sake of comprehensiveness, we’ll first cover a factor that complicates OS upgrades: An audio sub-system can consist of several kinds of audio outputs, which depends on your motherboard or any internal or external audio devices plugged into your rig. You can pick any of these components as the default audio device.

Some general strategies exist for fixing audio problems. For those interested, please read Guy’s guide to troubleshooting audio problems No Sound? Don't Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers No Sound? Don't Worry! Troubleshooting Tips For Your Computer Speakers Using 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... Read More . For tips on how to resolve boot problems, check out James Bruce’s article on how to diagnose hardware problems How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On Last week I showed you some of the simplest DIY repairs and upgrades that you can do yourself, but one reader asked how to diagnose which component was the problem. Today I’d like to walk... Read More .

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Motherboard Audio Outputs

Depending on the age and design of your motherboard, you might have any of the following audio connectors:

  • Frontal 3.5″ audio (consisting of speaker, microphone, and/or multichannel audio)
  • Rear 3.5″ audio (consisting of speaker, microphone, and/or multichannel audio)
  • HDMI rear audio/video
  • S/PDIF optical rear audio (either coaxial or optical)
  • USB audio (technically an external device)
  • DisplayPort audio/video
  • Serial port audio (archaic)

rear audio ports

There’s a few complicating factors that can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a successful upgrade. The older a computer, the more archaic its audio subsystem. The big divide occurred when Intel and AMD moved from discrete audio systems, with its own audio chip on the motherboard, to system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology, which integrates the audio subsystem onto the CPU die. When this shift occurred, it greatly simplified the drivers involved, which made hardware upgrades easier, since they dealt with fewer chipset providers.

Laptops can include audio output in a similar fashion, although modern devices dispense with rear ports, electing to place such connectors on the left and right sides of the device. Anyway, the problem seems related to your recent upgrade to Windows 10, so we start the troubleshooting process there.

Step One: Check Device Manager

Normally, I would suggest that you check Windows Device Manager to see if any devices aren’t recognized by Windows 10. In your case, though, these driver should be recognizable to the OS.

In Windows 10, type Device Manager into the Search bar.

select device manager

Device Manager should reveal itself at the top of the screen. Select it with a left-click.

windows 10 device manager top

If you see any icons with a yellow symbol superimposed, that means the driver exists, but suffers from problems. If it’s gray, the driver corresponds with an unknown device. In this case, you must track the driver down (and it may not exist).

Step Two: Check Windows Audio

Windows Audio can control which audio port outputs sound. As mentioned above, some devices can include multiple audio devices and the OS doesn’t know which one you want to use. It appears that you’ve already taken this step, but in case you haven’t, here’s some quick instructions:

First, type Sound into the Windows Search bar.

windows 10 search bar sound

Next, select Sound located at the top of the results.

windows 10 choose sound search bar

In the Sound settings menu, you’ll notice multiple audio devices. You didn’t indicate the specific audio output you were using, but whatever it is, you would select Set Default and hit OK from the bottom of the screen. It sounds as if you missed this very crucial step. If you did, the issue would appear identical to your own.

windows 10 default audio

If that doesn’t work, proceed to the next step.

Step Three: Update, Uninstall, and Reinstall

Microsoft recommends, in this case, updating your device driver. However, your audio appears to already work, so we won’t cover that step in lavish detail. The quickest way to update an audio driver in Windows 10 is to right-click on it in device manager and select Update Driver.

device driver windows 10 update driver

Sometimes, uninstalling and reinstalling an audio driver can solve the issue. Since it’s the rear audio ports which don’t work, you might want to consider uninstalling them in Device Manager, restarting the computer, which should automatically reinstall the drivers.

If that still doesn’t solve the issue, you might want to try visiting the site of whomever designed the audio component on your motherboard–in all likelihood, this would be RealTek. You can visit their driver download page here. Keep in mind that some manufacturers modify RealTek’s driver, so installing the vanilla version may break your computer. You were warned.

If All Else Fails: Check the TechNet Forums

Normally, we would start with a diagnostic related to the various subsystems of Windows audio. However, as you’ve already mentioned, Windows 10 produces sound, but applications do not. Others may have experienced the same issue when upgrading to Windows 10.

My colleague Bruce Epper suggests using the Windows 10 forums, located over at Microsoft and searching for “Windows 10 audio” to see if any hits show up. A quick scan of the Windows 10 Insider forums reveals several topics similar to your own. There’s a virtual maze of potential fixes, but don’t get discouraged. There’s probably an answer out there, if you look hard enough.

  1. Ana
    September 26, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Hello,
    I just bought a msi laptop GT62VR 5RD Dominator, and the sound was ok at first than it looses quality and at the sound setting both the playback and recording it shows realtek output not plugged in; i tried restoring the system to a prior date and it was ok for a day than it went back to the same problem; i tried updating the drivers but it doesn't work;
    Can anyone pls help

    • Kannon Yamada
      September 29, 2016 at 12:29 am

      That normally means your system is updating to a driver that's not working. In this case you will want to roll back to the older driver. You can roll back drivers in a similar way that you updated a driver. Instead of choosing Update Driver, choose "Roll back driver" from the properties menu in Device Manager. Let me know if you're having any problems.

  2. Milind Mahajani
    August 11, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Recently I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 from Windows 7. Now the internal speakers work well when playing local audio files. But if I try to play a video off the Internet, there is no sound though the video works well.

    What to do?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 11, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      That sounds like you've enabled the mute option in Chrome, if you are using Chrome. Try searching for how to turn this feature off. Last I checked, it requires special steps to enable and disable it.

      • Milind Mahajani
        August 12, 2016 at 5:02 pm

        Thank you, Kannon. You were so right! On my laptop I eventually found I had to go to the volume mixer while the video was running on Chrome. How the heck was I supposed to know that? I had checked the volume mixer several times but "Speakers" and "System sounds" had always been unmuted.

        Anyhow, I ran a video in Chrome, opened the volume mixer, and bingo! There was the option to unmute it, which I gladly did.

        It is working fine now. Thanks again.

        • Kannon Yamada
          August 12, 2016 at 5:18 pm

          You're very welcome. Thanks for letting me know it worked.

          It's really troubling that Chrome includes a mute setting. I can't imagine there being a use for this because most users can just lower the volume on their computer. Having a volume/sound setting in Chrome is overly complex and can lead to some serious problems.

  3. Lucho
    August 6, 2016 at 9:54 am

    I have an ASUS U36SD, after installing Windows 10, a few things stopped working including headphones, sound from speakers almost not existent, a few days later sounds just stopped working. A red X says "no audio device is installed" I have installed and uninstalled old and newest drivers from Realtek, I have started and restarted sound services and pretty much anything in every forum available, still no sound. Is Microsoft so irresponsible to force you to install a version of Windows that just screws up everything?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 11, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Realtek drivers are part of the audio sub-system, which requires a separate driver -- you already know this part.

      According to some other websites that I've read on this issue, you might need to update the BIOS for your laptop. Because updating the BIOS improperly carries the risk of destroying your laptop, you must be extremely careful. In particular, make sure you are installing the correct BIOIS firmware.

  4. Donato Burroni
    July 28, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    HELP PLEASE. I got an HP Pavilion x2 10, and since windows 10 upgrade the left speaker stopped producing any sound, even when tested on Menage Audio Device. Is there any way i can solve this issue?

    • Vicky
      July 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      I have the same issue. I tried default settings, uninstalling and re-installing the sound driver, same thing. The speakers work fine on a different PC. Please help!

      • Kannon Yamada
        August 12, 2016 at 5:21 pm

        Hi Vicky, I just finished answering this question below. I'm sorry for the delay. Here are the instructions:

        Windows includes a feature that control volume per each speaker. You can adjust the volume setting by going to Control Panel --> Sound --> click on the audio device that you're using and choose properties. From the properties menu, choose Levels. Then click on the Balance button. You should then see one volume slider per each speaker. You can readjust the volume here.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 12, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Windows includes a feature that control volume per each speaker. You can adjust the volume setting by going to Control Panel --> Sound --> click on the audio device that you're using and choose properties. From the properties menu, choose Levels. Then click on the Balance button. You should then see one volume slider per each speaker. You can readjust the volume here.

  5. Ioannis
    June 17, 2016 at 2:53 am

    I have a dell inspiron pc. After the update to windows 10, my dvd stopped working. Dell service came and replaced it. After the replacement, the sound system became crazy and started sjowing continuously the small window whuch asks you to choose what you are connecting (speakers, headset etc...) With Dell, we did BIOS upgrade to A12, sound software reisntallment. The problem still exists. The window pops up eve 10 minutes and the poping lasts for 2 minutes, wheere this window appears 50 times or more ever 0,5 second... which proves that the system is connectng and disconnecting itself with the sound all the time in miliseconds... you cannot do anything on the pc, whne the window pops up, as you need to tell the system which sound you want to connect (speakets etc.) and then the windows goes away.... but as in this case the window comes up and goes away itself continuously in miliseconds, there is nothting to tell the pc, just wait untill it stops...

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 18, 2016 at 1:03 am

      Misbehaving hardware is a common issue after upgrading to Windows 10 -- but I've never heard of this issue before. And it's really, really bizarre. I won't speculate though until I have more details. What is your specific model of Inspiron? If you absolutely can't find this, what year did you purchase it in?

      This may be a relatively simple issue, but more details are essential. Thank you.

  6. shivateja
    June 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I have Conexant drivers and my left speakers stopped working after windows 10 update

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 14, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Wow, that's a new one. It's probably not a hardware issue, since this happened after the update. Can I ask the specific model of device that you're using? There are a lot of different drivers out there.

  7. Michael
    June 14, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Mine didnt work...
    Cuz in device manager sound tab, it only show high definition sound only. But when i try to add new software in device manager (realtek) it says that the device not supported ...

    And it only show in soun setting playback tab hdmi digital jack not connected...

    Ive tried to reformat my pc to different os like win 7,8, 10
    But it still the same... No sound ...

    I use this pc for work purpose only...
    Fm1
    Msi a55 or ms 7786 version 1.0
    4gb ram
    A8 (quadcore) procie

    Dont know if the software has simething to do with this issue ... But ive tried my os in different pc and the sound work but not in my fm1 board

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Are you using HDMI or 3.5" jacks for audio? There are two different drivers. It sounds as if you are connecting over HDMI, in which case you need to install AMD's graphics drivers. i know that doesn't make any sense, but the reason why is that the audio is being passed over the same cable as the video.

      Do you have a 64-bit OS? Or a 32-bit OS? You can find the drivers here:

      https://us.msi.com/Motherboard/support/A55M-P33.html#down-driver&Win10 64

      I have it set to 64-bit right now.

      You can download the graphics drivers here:

      http://support.amd.com/en-us

      • Michael
        June 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm

        ANd also i have a gpu radeon hd 7870

        I have 64bit os
        And i use 3.5 jack
        i want to use 3.5 jack but i dont know how to change high definition sound it into realtek(not supported)

        I accidentally update my bios version
        Version 2
        Maybe it has something to do with my sound?

        • Kannon Yamada
          June 16, 2016 at 12:54 am

          It's doubtful. If anything, the cause might be related to drivers. Specifically the Realtek HD Audio drivers. Those govern the rear-panel audio and are not created by AMD.

          The Realtek audio drivers are officially supported in Windows 10 for your motherboard. You can check the 64-bit drivers out here:

          https://us.msi.com/Motherboard/support/A55M-P33.html#down-driver&Win10 64

          The 32-bit drivers are also available, you just might need to dig around for them on the MSI website. You only need to install those drivers. If that doesn't work, you may need to do a manual installation of the driver (which I call an injection installation).

        • Michael
          June 16, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          I already download and installed those drivers from msi but still no lucks...

          What do you mean by injection installation?

        • Michael
          June 16, 2016 at 1:57 pm

          How bout using an internal sound card? Will it repair the problem

        • Kannon Yamada
          June 16, 2016 at 5:28 pm

          It would most likely fix the issue, as Windows would use drivers other than the default ones that it's loading. The problem looks like Windows is automatically loading the wrong drivers.

        • Kannon Yamada
          June 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm

          There are several methods of manually installing drivers. One method is simply dropping the unzipped driver into the appropriate directory (which is sometimes referred to as injection installation). But that has a chance of rendering your system unstable and unrecoverable. A slightly better option is to use a driver installation software, like Driver Easy. I do not recommend using Driver Easy, but it can fix your problem if manual installation is too much of a hassle.

          The safest method of manual installation is to (after installing the driver) going to Device Manager. You have two sets of audio drivers here: Audio inputs and outputs and Sound, video and game controllers. If there's a bad driver here, you'll want to right-click on it and from the context menu choose Update driver software. And then choose Let me choose from a list of drivers.

          In this list, you'll see a variety of options. They SHOULD be the drivers that you just installed from MSI. One of the drivers here should work. If you do not see the drivers you just installed, try reinstalling the drivers.

          Alternatively, from this menu, you can also choose Have Disk, but you'll need to have extracted MSI's (technically Realtek) driver package using an archival program, like 7Zip. Let me know if you have any other questions.

        • Michael
          June 27, 2016 at 2:50 pm

          Drivers confilct ...
          I tried using the driver from msi but still it cant fix the problem...

          So i just bought a internal saound card...
          It fix the problem hehehe...

          I think there is a problem with my mobo..
          Anyway thanks for ur tips..
          It helps me a lot ...

        • Kannon Yamada
          June 27, 2016 at 6:05 pm

          I'm sorry about that Michael, but thank you for letting me know the drop in card fixed the issue.

          Driver conflict can sometimes be resolved by disabling the driver that doesn't work properly. You've already fixed the problem on your own, though, so that step isn't needed. :-)

  8. Luke Colasante
    June 8, 2016 at 1:33 am

    Worked for me, the default was set on to headphones! Thanks!!!

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 8, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Thanks for letting us know!

  9. Gordon Wagner
    May 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    This isn't any kind of solution, is it? This is clickbait.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 14, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      It was a solution for the person who asked the question in the first place. It was published under an advice column, which we've discontinued. Unfortunately, this article is not comprehensive enough to cover everyone's problems -- just a narrow fraction of the potential causes. If it doesn't help you, we've published another article on it: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/no-sound-7-tips-fix-audio-issues-windows-10/

      If that doesn't help, my favorite method is to visit the driver manufacturer's website and download and install their software. Can I ask for the specific model of device that you have?

  10. Sebastian Kedzior
    May 14, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    it still doesn't work with my PC. when I want to update drivers it says that they are updated, but yet the system doesn't see my speakers. troubleshooter sometimes resolves it but after some time the sound disappears again or after restart

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 14, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      That normally means Windows is loading a default driver. The right driver is probably installed, but Windows is reverting to another incompatible version. Have you tried the manual option for installing a driver? That usually means going to Device Manager, locating the errant driver, and then right-clicking on it. From the context menu, choose update driver and then "browse my computer for software driver". Then choose "let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer".

      Be careful. Make sure that you pick the correct driver in this option. Also, make a backup before proceeding. Just in case.

      • Sebastian Kedzior
        May 14, 2016 at 5:40 pm

        whatever I do it doesn't work

        • Kannon Yamada
          May 14, 2016 at 8:25 pm

          Can I ask for the specific model of device that you have? I'll look up your audio device manufacturer and see if there's a driver update available.

  11. vinay
    March 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

    my woofers are working on android but not on pc done everythingg

  12. Vin
    January 31, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    None worked. It's much more complicate than you presented.

    • Kannon Yamada
      January 31, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      What model of PC do you have?

  13. Candy Ray
    January 12, 2016 at 7:00 am

    After I upgraded to Windows 10, there was a red X on the speacker icon. I can't hear anything. Well, I was not sure if the problem was caused by the audio driver. So I used Driver Talent to scan my computer, then I knew the audio driver was outdated from the scanning list. Updating a driver was a very easy thing for me coz Driver Talent could do that with my mouse click.

  14. TheCat
    December 29, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Didn't work for me as well. HP desktop.

    • Kannon Yamada
      December 29, 2015 at 12:06 am

      In the comment below yours a commentor has an alternative method: Try manually updating the device and pick from the list of drivers available. There will be more than one option, normally. Here's what Jos Soo wrote:

      "Go to Device Manager> Sound, video game controllers.
      my options were:
      NVIDIA High Definition Audio
      NVIDIA Virtual Audio Device (Wave Extensible WDM)
      and High Definition Audio).

      Right click on High Definition Audio>Update Driver Software.
      In the next screen click on Browse my computer for driver software> on the bottom click on Let me pick a list of device driver on my computer> ( i first had VIA HD Audio windows 10 that didnt work). I clicked on “High Definition Audio Device” and installed that driver. that worked for me and my surround is working again."

  15. Jos soo
    December 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    i had the same issue, maybe this helps:

    Go to Device Manager> Sound, video game controllers.
    my options were:
    NVIDIA High Definition Audio
    NVIDIA Virtual Audio Device (Wave Extensible WDM)
    and High Definition Audio).

    Right click on High Definition Audio>Update Driver Software.
    In the next screen click on Browse my computer for driver software> on the bottom click on Let me pick a list of device driver on my computer> ( i first had VIA HD Audio windows 10 that didnt work). I clicked on "High Definition Audio Device" and installed that driver. that worked for me and my surround is working again.

    Hope this helps

    • Parvil
      December 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      That really helped me, thanks!

      • Jos soo
        December 27, 2015 at 1:21 am

        Good to hear that!

  16. Paul
    December 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Hi, having upgraded a communication aid from Windows 7 to Windows 10, everything worked well for a week. However last week the sound stopped working.

    When going into drivers there were no exclamation marks, neither were there any errors on the drivers themselves.

    When testing the sound the volume bar rises and falls as if it is playing the sound, but nothing comes out if the speakers.

    Following instructions on here and other sites, I rolled back the driver and the sound worked fine, however the next day it stopped working again and looked as if an un update had occurred.
    I then uninstalled the driver and installed both the latest Realtek driver and the Windows one, of which both didn't work.

    I am persuming that the old driver was fine, but Windows is updating it and therefore causing the problem?

  17. Keith
    December 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I have the same problem, after upgrading only the HDMI output remains in the device manager. Can't use the built in speakers or plug in headphones.. I have a HP Elitebook 8530W

    • Kannon Yamada
      December 17, 2015 at 12:11 am

      Try going to Device Manager and then View and then enabling "Show hidden devices" then check to see if there's any audio devices available in Windows Device manager. There might need to expand the entry for Audio inputs and output or Sound, video and game controllers.

      • Keith
        December 17, 2015 at 9:55 am

        I have tried that, been scouring the internet for any fixes but nothing worked since my devices were completely gone. So i went back to windows 8.1 as a last resort and magically they are back and functioning. I'll just stick to 8.1

  18. Austin
    December 13, 2015 at 3:45 am

    It wont show any of my playback devices, so I really can't do anything that involves them.

    • Kannon Yamada
      December 15, 2015 at 2:10 am

      What is displayed in Windows Device Manager? Are there any icons with red or yellow markers?

      • Austin
        December 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm

        It doesn't even show it :/

        • Kannon Yamada
          December 17, 2015 at 12:08 am

          Audio devices show up in two locations within Windows Device Manager: "Audio inputs and outputs" and "Sound, video and game controller". You probably already know about this, but you can expand each entry by clicking the right-facing arrow to the left of the entry.

          You may also want to choose "View" from the tabs at the top of the Device Manager window. Then choose "Show hidden devices" which will show you a wider range of devices. Then go back and check (and expand) both entries for Audio and Sound.

          Do you see anything there with yellow or red icons?

  19. Marc
    December 10, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    It's a Dell Inspiron 17 5000 series laptop.

  20. Marc
    December 10, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I tried this and it didn't work

    • Kannon Yamada
      December 10, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Can I ask for the model number of your computer? I'll look up the specific Windows 10 audio drivers for you.

  21. fawwad.hussain3550
    September 3, 2015 at 6:56 am

    i like this article.

    • BBob
      February 4, 2016 at 4:36 am

      After Windows 10 update, the Windows Media Player configuration is wrong (unfortunately, this affects any other media player and sound out put). I can play off the internet via browser (Youtube, etc) and I can hear it, but not through the media player software. Run the command: msdt.exe -id WindowsMediaPlayerConfigurationDiagnostic and run the test. Once finished, restart and then everything works ok.

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