These are some recent issues -- over the last year or so -- listed by model number. A "confirmed" solution is one that was verified by several owners of the model. The other solutions worked for at least one person, but might not be a widespread fix. Note that this is not an official Dell FAQ. These are issues & solutions as reported by owners, on the Dell Forum Laptop Audio discussion board.
The issues and solution are listed by model name. If you do not know the model number of your laptop, the Parts-People has a utility [link] that finds your laptop's service tag, and shows you the model number.
Inspiron 11" 31xx (exact model unknown): crackling noise from the speakers. Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Inspiron 11" 3147: audio crackles, including music, video, and system sounds, both in speakers and headphones. Issue seems to begin after a Windows update. Solution 1: Click on the battery icon in the bottom right and then turn off Power Saver mode. Solution 2: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Inspiron 11" 3158: audio crackles. Solution: open the Windows Sound properties dialog. In the Playback tab, right click on Speakers and click Properties. Select the Enhancements tab. Change audio sample rate/bit depth to 16Bit/48000Hz or 24Bit/48000Hz. Don't use 24/96Khz or 24/192Khz.
Issue 1: crackling noise from the speakers. Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Issue 2: Every few seconds, the audio through the speakers fades in and out, and becomes muffled. The audio through the headphones is not affected.
Solution 1a: Right click on the speaker icon on the lower right part of your screen and choose "Playback Devices", to go to the Sound menu. Click on the Communications tab. There you'll find a set of options to "When windows detects communication activity:" Choose "Do nothing". [This solution was confirmed by several owners, but did not work for others.] Solution 1b: Solution 1a worked for one owner until the battery got very low, then problems returned. Solution was to go to MaxAudioPro>Playback>Advanced screen. Uncheck "Switch to battery save mode when battery is low".
Solution 2a: Turn off the MaxxAudio Pro Speaker Enhancement. The fading in and out will stop, but the volume becomes much lower. Solution 2b: Keep MaxxAudio on, but go into advanced settingsand uncheck MaxxVolume. Doing so keeps the volume louder. Solution 2c: Keep MaxxAudio on, but go into advanced settings and uncheck MaxxLeveler. Solution 2d: Disable MaxxAudio and enable Equalizer.
Solution 3: one owner had muffled audio only when streaming. He or she bought a USB wireless adapter on Amazon, disabled the on board wireless adapter and added the USB one. After that, no more audio issues. Solution 4: Download Realtek driver from Realtek website and install with Windows 8.1 compatibility settings (right click exe file and troubleshoot compatibility, then select windows 8.1).
Issue 3: the volume control is frozen at the top-left corner screen, so cannot adjust the volume at all, both on the keyboard and on the touch screen. Solution: a cable inside the case is being pinched by a screw. This thread has details of the issue and a picture of the pinched cable. Shifting the cable a bit can fix the issue, or have the motherboard replaced.
Inspiron 13" 5368:
Issue 1: when battery is down to around 50%, audio through speakers fades out over a period of 10-20 seconds, Need to close the media and reopen it to restore audio. Not an issue when using headphones. Solution: Right click the battery icon, go to Dell Extended Battery Life Options, and make sure it is DISABLED. After doing that, issue will not return until the batter is less than 15% or so.
Issue 2: the audio begins normal volume, then over 5-10 secs fades to soft, even when not using battery power. Solution 1: go to Advanced tab of Dell Audio and click on Restore Defaults. Solution 2: at least two owners got a fix by downloading the Realtek R2.81 driver directly from the Realtek site. Click on the link, then click on "High Definition Audio Codecs". Check "I accept", and then "next". Solution 3: change the bit depth from 24 to 16 bits (on the Windows Sound dialog, open the Playback tab, right click on Speakers and open Properties, select the Advanced tab.)
Inspiron 13" 5378: when headphones are plugged in, sound continues to come through speakers, and the popup dialog does not appear. Solution: enable Waves MaxxAudio Service in the startup tab of Task Manager (in Windows 10), then restart the laptop. The issue might return after hibernating the laptop.
Inspiron 13" 7347 : crackling noise from the speakers. Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Inspiron 13" 7348: vibrato-like sound effect even with effects turned off. Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Inspiron 13" 7353: Issue with BIOS version 1.10, A08: no audio after restarting laptop (but works okay after a full shutdown). Confirmed Solution: "roll back" the BIOS from A08 to the 1.06 (A05) version. Solution 2: go into the UEFI bios, turn off Fast Boot, then turn on the Legacy Boot Rom. This will allow you stay on the latest BIOS A08 version. [This worked for some who tried it, not for others.]
Inspiron 13" 7359
Issue 1: No sound from the speakers with BIOS A06 thru A08. Confirmed Solution: downgrade the BIOS to 01.06, A05.
Issue 2: The included equalizer and other enhancement options work perfectly fine without headphones plugged in, but the moment you plug in a pair of headphones and have them detected as such, none of the enhancement options nor equalizer have any effect. Solution: The temporary work-around is to change the detected jack information from "Headset / Headphones" to "Speaker Out". This should allow all enhancement options to function properly with the headphones.
Inspiron 13" 7368
Issue 1: when the laptop starts playing an audio or video file, there is a loud click and then the sound starts without the first second. Solution: update to Realtek audio driver 184.108.40.20608.
Issue 2: when powered speakers are connected to the laptop's audio port, works okay while the audio is playing, but 5 seconds after the audio stops a loud noise comes though the powered speakers, and continues until audio is shut down. Solution: an owner reported that the issue persisted even after Dell replaced the motherboard -- might be a grounding problem with the audio port. Owner bought a usb audio jack to avoid using the integrated jack, and now has no problem using powered speakers.
Inspiron 15" 5559: After updating to Windows 10 AU (anniversary update), audio is not working after turning on laptop, but works okay after restarting. Solution: uncheck "Turn on fast startup" in power management. The path is:
Control Panel>Hardware & Sound>Power Options>System Settings>Shutdown Settings>Turn on fast startup
Inspiron 15" 5545: sound quality is "awful". Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Inspiron 15" 5567:
Issue 1: crackling noise from the speakers.Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Issue 2: no audio through headphones and no popup window. Solution: press plug into jack extra firmly.
Inspiron 15" 7537: no bass in the audio. Solution: switch from the Realtek audio driver to the Windows native audio driver. (Start a new thread if need instructions.)
Inspiron 15" 7559:
Issue 1: static-y pop noise coming from the speakers when launching some programs. Solution: there are about 10 solutions listed in the Choppy/Skipping Audio FAQ. Scroll down just past the links at the top of the FAQ, to the 7559 section.
Issue 2: faint static-y hissing noise coming from speakers.. This seems to be different from the pop noise above. Solution 1: go to the Enhancements tab of the Speaker properties and uncheck all boxes. Solution 2: update to the latest BIOS (version 1.2.1).
Issue 3: when stereo mix is selected as the recording source, only the low frequencies are recorded. Solution: disable Realtek HD and Waves MaxxAudio from Startup. An owner posted the workaround solution here.
Issue 4: reverb is present when making voice calls with a headset. Solution: disabling the MaxxAudio Pro settings removes the reverb, but it returns whenever the headset is re-connected, or when Dell Audio is opened. This permanent solution was posted by MrBraydogg:
1. Open up Dell Audio Sound Manager.
2. Click on Speaker/Microphone on the top bar, and then MAXX AUDIO PRO on the left side bar.
3. Un-check every check box on that page.
4. Next to "Preset" near the top of the menu, click the save icon (floppy disk to the right of the trash can icon).
5. Name the new preset "Off".
6. Close the program, and now you should have no issues swapping between your headset and laptop speakers.
Inspiron 17" 7779: echo in the headphones, caused by MaxxAudio Pro "dimension" being always on, even after turning it off. Solution 1: in the popup that appears after plugging in headphones, select "external speakers". But doing so will disable the mic on a headset. Solution 2: open Device Manager and uninstall the Realtek audio driver, then download and install a fresh copy of it.
Latitude E7270: brand new, with no audio right out of the box. Solution: go into BIOS and find the switch named "Enable Audio", under Configurations-Audio. Tick on the switch.
Latitude E7440 w/Win10: After stop listening music, can still hear a little noise for around 10 seconds and then it disappears. After start listening again, no sound from headphones for around 4 seconds. [This issue has been reported by 5 people.] Solution: switch to native audio driver.
Issue 1: headphone jack is not working. Solution: start the Task Manager. Go to the Startup tab. Make sure all audio related tasks are enabled (especially Realtek Audio Manager). Restart. After that, open the Dell Audio control panel again. Reset defaults. Popup should appear again when plugging in headset.
Issue 2: static after Win10 AU (anniversary update). Solution 1: re-install Windows "from scratch". Solution 2: remove Dell SupportAssist/Agent. Details of this issue are in Section 5 of the Choppy/Skipping Audio FAQ.
Issue 3: intermittent no sound, red x by audio after re-booting. Issue occurs in all operating systems, Win 8.1, 10, and Ubuntu. Solution 1: update to BIOS A07 (note: there is now a newer BIOS, A09, so might have to downgrade). Solution 2: "At start up - press F2 - In Bios - choose "POST Behavior" - "Fastboot" - This must be set to "Thorough" (NOT minimal or auto)." (posted by maxavior). Solution 3: "Shut down the laptop. Boot the laptop and hit F12 key and select Diagnostics. After a minute or so you can hit the ESC key to abort the tests and do a quick audio test. Once you hear it beeping, reboot the laptop and reinstall the Realtek driver. Do a reboot, it installs, do another reboot. If you do one reboot audio works but headphones don't. Second reboot back to normal." (posted by kustodian, who said to not close the laptop lid, or will have to do it all over again.) Solution 4: one poster wrote that Dell exchanged the laptop for another unit, same model. Poster installed same backup image as used with the defective unit, and now no problems. Solution 5: on models with Win 8.1, use the Windows 7 audio driver (Realtek version: 7422.118.0). Solution 6: right click on muted speaker icon, then click on Volume Control Options. Check the boxes. Solution 7: disable audio in bios, start windows, restart, re-enable audio. Solution 8:on units with Win 10, disable automatic updates and install previous version of driver (Realtek 6.4.10041.125). Solution 9: on units with dual boot, boot "Ubuntu twice in a row (not restart, a full shutdown+start, x2). Once sound is working in Ubuntu, great! Never switch back to Windows! You can even put the computer to sleep (closing the lid) and the sound comes back when waken up again. Same story in kernel pre-4.2 and post-4.2 when the default audio mode changed from HDA to I2C. If you MUST switch to Windows, for the love of God, don't ever close the lid or let the computer go to sleep. If you do, you will lose sound and will have to go through the process of two consecutive cold boots of Ubuntu and then another boot back into Windows." (posted by tz_md)
Issue 4: the sound card driver uses 30% CPU constantly when more than 1 user is logged in. Solution: Open Task Manager (Right-click start menu), open the Start-Up tab, right click on Waves MaxxAudio Service Application and select to disable.
Issue 5: the sound becomes a bit distorted, both through the headphones and speakers. Solution: No solution, but disabling and re-enabling the audio hardware makes the distortion stop for a while.This thread has a script to do that quickly. See jrbedford's post, the 7th in the thread.
XPS 9350 & 9550.
Issue 1: After a full shutdown then boot, video & audio are not playing and it keeps loading. It will resolve once the system is restarted. Happens with Realtek audio driver (V220.127.116.1129, but not with HD Audio Device default driver. Downgrading to previous (March) driver does not fix it. Solution: as a temporary fix after login in, open the Task Manager [CTRL+ALT+ESC], select Details tab, and kill (End task) the audiodg.exe. It will start again by itself and you should have audio back.
Issue 2: On booting the PC without any headphones, the speakers work. However headphones do not work if inserted. On removing the headphones, the speakers then cease to work. However if booting the PC with headphones inserted, the headphones do work. On removing them, the speakers do not work. The headphones do not work if reinserted. Both these scenarios are fixed by rebooting the PC. Confirmed Solution: get Dell tech support to replace the sound daughter board. Solution 2: 1. Update audio drivers to latest (Audio_Driver_37Y88_WN32_18.104.22.16828_A03.EXE) 2. Update BIOS to latest (XPS_9550_1.1.19.exe) 3. Restart. 4. Open the Task Manager, navigate to startup tab. 5. Disable "HD Audio Background Process" and "Waves MAXXaudio Service Application". 6. Enable "Realtek HD Audio Manager" if not already enabled. 7. Restart. Solution 3: Uninstall the current driver (A03) and install the older (A01) driver. [The newest driver is A05]
Issue 3 (9350): static in speakers after Window AU (anniversary update) build 1607. Solution 1: reinstall Win10 and let it "find" older Realtek driver 22.214.171.12454. Solution 2: remove the current Realtek driver and re-download it from the Dell site.
Issue 4 (9350)): lost audio on Oct 6, and red x is by audio icon. Solution 1: re-download & install the Realtek driver, 126.96.36.19929. Solution 2: 1. In Device Manager, right click the Intel High Definition Audio device. 2. Select "Update driver software..." 3. Browse my computer, or choose driver from PC... 4. Let me pick from a list... 5. Show all manufacturers". 6. Then from the left list, select Realtek . 7. Install it.
Issue 5 (9350): If running Linux Mint, if you install the TLP power management tool, could get popping noise when audio starts and stops.Solution: This thread has instructions for editing the tool settings, to eliminate the issue.
Issue 1: if there are no sounds played for 30 or seconds or so, the next sound is delayed by about 2 seconds. Solution: update Google Chrome to the "Canary build".
Issue 2: During audio communication (for example Skype calls or game chatting), Waves MaxxAudio Service consumes 30% of CPU while on Internal speakers. The issue does not occur if headphones are plugged into the jack. Solution 1 (this worked for 2 people who tried it): disable Realtek HD Audio Manager and Waves in the start-up list. Keep HD Audio Background Process enabled. The drawback is that the selection popup will no longer appear when plugging in a headset, so cannot use the headset's mic, only the internal mic. Solution 2 (this worked for 1 owner, but not for another who tried it): remove all versions of Realtek driver via Device Manager. Turn off Cortana. Download latest driver directly from Realtek's site. Disconnect from the internet, then install the Realtek driver.
Issue 3: Plug in a headset and it is recognized and Maxx Wave asks what it is. Headphones work but there is no mic input. Installing Realtek driver from Dell's site does not help. Solution: install the driver that is available on the Realtek site (go to http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/ "High Definition Audio Codecs", then on the next page check "I accept" and then click "next"). After the driver is installed, might have to adjust the microphone volume and boost levels in the Windows Sound control applet.
XPS 9530: (not 9350): with Win10 and Skype, the external headset microphone volume is very low when using any of the Dell-supplied Realtek drivers. Solution 1: switch from the Realtek driver to the Windows native audio driver (start a new thread if need instructions). The drawback with doing this is that the playback sound is not as good. Solution 2: install the driver that is available on the Realtek site (go to http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/ "High Definition Audio Codecs", then on the next page check "I accept" and then click "next". )
XPS 9560: The Intel audio display driver is causing a dramatic slow down of "devices and printers" in Win10. Solution: download the Intel Chipset_10.1.1.42_Public.zip on Intel's download center website.
Alienware 17 R3: jittery sound and lagging video. Solution: an owner installed a Samsung Pro 950 256 GB SSD hard drive put the operating system on it, while keeping the original hard drive for storage. After that, there were no more problems with audio and video.
Vostro 3650: crackles & pops in the audio while streaming video. Solution: go to Control panel > Intel Rapid(R) Storage Technology > Performance > LIink Power Management. Set to "disabled" and restart laptop.
Unknown model: (poster did respond to request to supply a model number): static or crackling. Solution: on the Enhancements tab, uncheck all boxes.
Please do not reply in this thread, which is a FAQ.
If you have comments or questions please start a new thread, or post in an existing thread. I will add additional issues & solutions here, after they are posted in the Laptop Audio discussions.