How to Fix Sound Problems in Windows 10

Microsoft Windows 10 logo

You start a PC game or play a movie, but you do not hear any sound. On the surface, there is no apparent reason for the lack of audio. This guide explains how to troubleshoot sound issues in Windows 10.

Unfortunately, sound problems can be tricky. The problems could simply lie in third-party software, requiring a fix. Problems can also come from Windows 10 or the underlying hardware. Possible solutions include installing new drivers, changing settings or even restoring a previous restore point.

This guide begins with simple steps and deepens Windows 10 if you continue to face audio issues.

First check the simple fixes

There is nothing more embarrassing than shouting at the PC for sound problems due to unintentional mute button press.

First, check that the sound is not muted on the PC side. If your keyboard has volume controls, press a key or turn a slider to see if the volume bar on the screen increases or decreases. You can also display the taskbar to examine the "speaker" icon parked next to the system clock.

As shown below, an "X" next to the virtual speaker icon means that your sound is muted. Just click on the speaker button to expand the volume pane.

Windows 10 sound cut

Then click on the speaker icon to the left of the slider to activate the mute.

Windows 10 Muted Sound Part 2

You should also check that the sound is not muted or turned off on the hardware side. For example, your speakers may have volume buttons, or they may be unplugged accidentally from the computer or the AC outlet.

Likewise, your headset or microphone may include online volume dials that are closed or they may simply be disconnected from the PC.

The example below shows the online controls of a Logitech headset for sound (numbering) and a built-in microphone (toggle).

Online volume checks

Another simple solution is to verify that the problem is not related to an application or a specific program installed on your computer. It may be that something that is wrong with the application or the program itself requires a fix or that the audio is turned off or off.

This example shows the audio muted on YouTube.

YouTube volume control

Other corrections that you can try to include install all Windows 10 updates or restart your PC.

Restart Windows 10

Check the default audio device

As a rule of thumb, you should only have one audio device installed. However, the list is superimposed after you start accumulating batteries on external devices such as the HTC Vive, a wireless Xbox controller, headphones, and so on.

You may switch from a headset to the built-in speakers of a laptop, but Windows 10 still transmits audio through your disconnected headset.

You can check the default audio device in two ways: from the taskbar or the control panel.

The taskbar route

Click on the "speaker" icon next to the system clock. A name is displayed above the volume rollout. Click on the name to display a pop-up list titled "Select Play Device" and then choose another audio device until you hear a sound.

Windows 10 Select the playback device

If none of these methods work, proceed to the "Perform Troubleshooting" step.

The control panel

Press the Windows key, type "Control Panel" in the search box on the taskbar, and select the Control Panel Desktop application in the results. Next, select "Hardware and Sound" in the main menu of the control panel, followed by "Sound" in the following panel.

Hardware and Sound Control Panel

The pop-up window Sound appears on the screen. Make sure your audio device is set by default. If not, click once on the device list to select, then click the "Set Default" button. Then click on the "OK" button to finish.

Default Sound Set Device

Start the convenience store

Windows 10 provides a built-in troubleshooting utility that analyzes the system and provides solutions.

Press the Windows key, type "Audio" in the search box on the taskbar, and select "Find and fix sound playback problems" in the results. This opens a troubleshooter in Control Panel.

Find and solve audio problems

You can also access this troubleshooter by going to Start> Settings> System> Sound> Troubleshoot.

After the troubleshooter looks for the audio devices, select the device you want to resolve, and then click the "Next" button.

Select the audio device to troubleshoot

Windows 10 analyzes the problems. Follow all the instructions available to solve your audio problems.

Restart audio services

Press the Windows key, type "Services" in the search box of the taskbar, and then select the Services desktop application in the results.

Launch Windows 10 services

In the Services window, you will need to restart three services:

Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
Windows Audio
Windows Audio Endpoint Builder

For each service, click once to select, right-click to open the service menu, and select the "Restart" option. If "Restart" is grayed out, try the "Refresh" option instead.

Restart audio services

Disable audio enhancements

These "enhancements" provided by audio hardware vendors and Microsoft are aimed at providing the best possible experience. However, they could be the underlying problem.

Type "Control Panel" into the search box on the taskbar and select the resulting desktop application from Control Panel.

Find and launch the control panel

Select "Hardware and Sound" from the Control Panel Main Menu, then "Sound" from the following panel.

Hardware and Sound Control Panel

Select your audio device listed under the "Playback" tab and right-click to open a menu. Select the "Properties" option at the bottom.

Sound Panel Audio Device Properties

Once the Speaker / Header Properties window appears, click the "Enhancements" tab. Check the "Disable all sound effects" (or "Disable all enhancements") check box. Confirm the change by clicking on the "OK" button.

Windows 10 Disable sound effects

If this does not work, the correct audio device may not be configured by default. Follow the instructions in Control Panel to set your default audio device. If it still does not work, go to the next step.

Change the audio format

The current audio format may not work properly with the hardware of your PC. To see if this is the case, type "Control Panel" in the search field of the taskbar and select the resulting desktop application from the control panel.

Find and launch the control panel

Select "Hardware and Sound" from the Control Panel Main Menu, then "Sound" from the following panel.

Hardware and Sound Control Panel

Select your audio device listed under the Playback tab and right-click to open a menu. Select the "Properties" option at the bottom.

Sound Panel Audio Device Properties

Once the Speaker / Headphone Properties window appears, click the "Advanced" tab. A drop-down menu appears in the "Default Format" section. Select another format and click the "Test" button to see if another format is working. If this is the case, click on the "Apply" button and then on the "OK" button.

Windows 10 Change the audio format

If the audio format change does not work, proceed to update your audio driver.

Update the driver

There are two ways to update your audio driver. Many pre-built computers from Dell, HP, and others install a "command center" application that scans your device and installs updated drivers.

For example, Alienware computers come with SupportAssist that analyzes outdated drivers, hardware issues, and more. Run these applications to check for driver updates.

The second approach is to update the driver manually via the Device Manager. To get started, right-click the Start button and select "Device Manager" from the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 Open Device Manager

Select and expand the "Sound, Video, and Game Controllers" entry to list all available audio devices. Click once on your primary device (this example uses Realtek Audio), then right-click to open a pop-up menu. Select the "Update Driver" option.

Windows 10 Update Audio Driver

Select "Automatically search for updated driver software" in the following window.

Windows 10 Auto Search for drivers

You can also search the manufacturer's website for sound card new drivers and download them to your PC. If you take this route, choose the option "Find a driver software on my computer" instead. Just direct Windows 10 to the download location.

Windows 10 Browse Drivers

Another option "Find a driver in my computer" is to install compatible drivers from a list. So, instead of entering a download location, click on the option "Let me choose from a list of drivers available on the workstation".

Windows 10 Let me choose from a list

Make sure that the "Show compatible devices" box is checked and select one of the drivers listed in the following window. Click on the "Next" button to finish.

Windows 10 Select the driver from the list

Uninstall and reinstall your audio device

Delete your audio device completely and let Windows 10 detect and reinstall the appropriate driver.

Right-click the Start button and select "Device Manager" from the context menu.

Windows 10 Open Device Manager

Once the Device Manager appears on your screen, select and expand the "Sound, video and game controllers" entry. Click once on your primary device (this example uses Realtek Audio), then right-click to open a pop-up menu. Select the option "Uninstall Device" and reboot your PC.

Windows 10 Uninstall the audio device

Windows 10 must reinstall the appropriate audio driver after rebooting. To check, go back to Device Manager and see if your audio device appears under "Sound, video and game controllers".

If it is not, click once to select the category, then right-click to open a pop-up menu. Select the "Search for changes to hardware" option in the menu.

Find changes on the hardware

If your audio device still does not display, you probably have hardware issues that the update / update driver can not resolve.

Perform a system restore

Finally, if all else fails, let's hope that Windows 10 has created a restore point before the start of your sound problems.

Type "Restore" in the search field of the taskbar and select "Create Restore Point" in the results.

Windows 10 Create a restore point

Click the "System Restore" button in the next System Properties window to start the service.

Windows 10 Start System Restore

A System Restore window appears on the screen. Click on the "Next" button to continue.

Next button of system restore

In the next step, check the box "Show more restore points" and select a restore point dating before the beginning of the audio problems. Click on the "Next" button to continue.

Windows 10 Select the restore point

Click the "Finish" button and Windows 10 will restore your PC.

Windows 10 Confirm the restore point

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