I have a 5 year old Dell Vostro desktop. A couple of days ago a new problem developed. When I plug headphones in to the front jack, they are immediately detected and audio output is directed to them. However, when they are removed from the jack, the audio does not immediately transfer back to the speakers. In fact this does eventually happen, but it can be a few hours until it does! Plugging in and out again can sometimes fix this, but not at all reliably. If the audio is not being sent to the speakers when I shut down, it is still out when I restart.
I am running Windows 10 and hence get the popup messages about headphones being plugged in and removed. These follow the same delayed response described above.
Is this likely to be a hardware or a software problem? Until this week there was no sign of this issue. Someone on another forum suggested switching manually using the Windows Sound properties. However, the Vostro seems to be using "RealTek HD Audio manger" which does not appear to have any manual switching option.
This has got even stupider. I plugged in a memory card and it popped up the headphones have been plugged in message. Nonetheless I was able to read data off the SD card. However, even after removing this card it still thinks headphones are plugged in and is not sending any audio to the speakers! Is this a motherboard problem?
The five year old Vostro 460 is not on the Windows 10 supported list. Did you have any of these issues prior to installing Windows 10? If not, then I doubt that these are hardware issues, more of driver or software incompatibility issue.
I have checked and agree that the Vostro is not on the Windows 10 supported list. However, I upgraded to Windows 10 many months ago and did not have this problem until just over a week ago. Up until then I was happily switching from using headphones and the speakers on a regular basis. I note that since reporting this issue, I have found the system is quite stable if I do not plug anything in to the front panel, but this limits the usefulness of the computer for me - I watch a lot of movies etc. on it and headphones mean I don't disturb other family members!
My guess is the Windows update installed a "newer" audio driver which could be the culprit. You need to check the updates history and find the driver, roll it back to the previous version, then not allow updates to install the new one.
I did follow this up, but could find no new audio driver that had been added in recent months. The issue has continued to get worse - at first I could get the system to recognise the correct state by plugging and unplugging the headphones a few times. This became less easy to achieve. Eventually, it started going from an unplugged (i.e. main speakers) to a "plugged in" state without even touching it. I would be using the speakers, went away and when I came back the state had changed! I think it must be the jack itself causing problems.
I am not sure how easy this part is to replace. However, what I am now doing is using the headphone jack (i.e. front jack) for the speakers. This seems to be working okay for now.