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VLC Media Player WARNING

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Note that this is a Legacy FAQ and contains information that is no longer current. See the Update below for current status.

Dell Tech Support is denying warranty service for speaker damage if the popular VLC Media Player is installed on a Dell laptop. Also we got a report that service was denied because a KMPlayer was installed on a laptop. The warranty remains valid on the other parts of the laptop.

VLC has a feature that can make the audio seem louder than other players. VLC achieves this by using a process that creates hard clipping (see below in this thread for explanation) which can damage small speakers. Dell has tested VLC and verified that the speakers can be damaged after several hours of using VLC. I believe that HP (Hewlett Packard) also says that VLC damage is not covered under its warranty.

If you choose to use the VLC player, it is suggested that you do not set the volume higher than 100% in order to avoid potential damage to the speakers. If you contact Tech Support about a speaker problem, it is suggested that you do not have the player installed.

If you have already been denied warranty service for a speaker problem only because you have the VLC player, please see the next post which is marked "Verified Answer". Send DELL - Terry B a private message. The way to do that is to click on his link, which is his name in blue letters. That will take you to his profile page where you can click on "send a private message" or "add as friend".

UPDATE 1-27-2016

As of 3-3-2014 the exclusion no longer applied to models that have Windows 8 or 8.1. The exclusion still applied to Windows 7 systems that did not have the latest audio driver and BIOS installed.

The current version of the VLC Media Player boosts audio to only 125%, not the 200-400% of earlier versions, so the issue might be moot now anyway. (Note that there might still be a risk if you use software to boost the volume over 100%. Dell recommends to not go over 90%.)

UPDATE 6-16-2017

Within the last year we have received a couple of reports of owners being denied service again. My guess is there are a few service reps out there who didn't get the word that the exclusion no longer is supposed to be enforced. Best advice is to remove all media players except Windows Media Player before seeking warranty service for speakers.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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DellEMC

Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Great Post Jimco

If anyone was refused help by technical support when the only troubleshooting performed was finding VLC player installed please feel free to private message me. Just click on my portrait or the link in my signature and then click start conversation.  In your message please include your contact information, the service tag of the notebook and any case numbers that tech support may have offered. I will be happy to investigate further.

 

<Further edit>

For those of you that have asked for official Dell documentation on the subject please take a look at the following link.

Issue with increased volume while using VLC media player 

When using VLC media player, volume can be increased to max output. This eventually distorts the speaker output. If audio/video playback is continuously done using VLC with max volume (100%) over a period of time then even if the volume is kept at a lower level sound would be distorted. This distortion is permanent. 

Why does this happen? 

Some audio application like VLC player will allow large power output through speaker, approx 200% to 400% of original sound output. In this situation, excessive usage may damage the speaker. 

What is the resolution? 

If you are using VLC or any other amplification software, ensure that both the inbuilt audio output is set to 90% and output volume from amplification software is set to 95%

 

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Wow! Did not know that. You would think that companies would have a buffer to keep that from happening. They can dim a screen to protect your monitor, but no way to keep a speaker from blowing?! Not their fault. I am not throwing blame or anything. But that kind of stinks.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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You would think that companies would have a buffer to keep that from happening. They can dim a screen to protect your monitor, but no way to keep a speaker from blowing?

Probably they don't blow. My guess is that they are burning out or having mechanical failure from the heat produced by unnaturally high average amplitude. I heard that one of the Dell laptop models got a BIOS revision to help protect the speakers from the VLC Player but I don't know how such protection could work except by lowering the overall volume.


I played some short samples of a pop tune with VLC Player and simultaneously recorded them into a graphic audio editor, and made some screen shots of the amplitude waveforms -- just the left channel to keep it simple. These amplitude graphs represent the relative energy of the audio signal. The highest peaks represent the greatest amplitude, which increases as the waveform moves away from the center crossing line in either up or down direction. The center "zero crossing" line represents silence.


Example 1 shows VLC playing the tune normally with its volume set at 100%.


Example 2 is VLC Player playing the tune with the volume set to 200%.


In both examples, the maximum amplitude of the signal is nearly as large as it can get, which is the saturation point of 0 dB (zero decibels). The 2nd example would sound louder because its average amplitude is greater. That is shown in the graph by the increased density of the waveform. A greater proportion of the signal is close to 0 dB.

VLC can't make the laptop's amp produce more wattage than it was made to produce, so where does the increased volume come from? The program seems to increase the signal's amplitude to beyond the 0 dB limit -- super-saturation. That would definitely increase the volume  but the problem is that signal over 0 dB create very blatant digital distortion -- basically a loud noise. To fix that, all of the signal over 0 dB is simply chopped off, or clipped.

Example 2 shows the increased average amplitude but with a form of distortion known as "clipping". It is called "clipping" because of the way the graph looks after parts of the signal have been hacked off. It is a form of distortion because the waveform has been ruined by hacking off parts of it. If you play a song with  VLC Player set to 200% volume you can easily hear the distortion in the audio signal.


Here are very extreme close-ups of examples 1 & 2. The waveform in example 1 resembles a sine wave more or less.


Example 2 is the same slice of music but with VLC Player's volume set to 200%. The maximum amplitude is the same as in example 1, but now there is much more of the signal near maximum so the average amplitude is much greater here. In example 1, the waveform was forming peaks near the maximum. In example 2 the waveform is creating plateaus near the the maximum, which means that it is now starting to look more like a square wave -- typical of hard clipping.


The maker of VCL Player says there is nothing about the player that can cause damage to laptop speakers, and for all I know that may be true. Those guys are smarter than me. However these graphs demonstrate that the player creates hard clipping when the volume level is set to 200% and dramatically increases the average amplitude.

The graphs actually under-represent the increase in the amount of average amplitude between example 1 and 2. That is because the graphs represent amplitude in decibels, which is a logarithmic scale. If the graphs accurately represented the increase in amplitude they would be too big to use. The bottom line is that there is a whole lot of extra energy for the speakers to have to convert into mechanical energy and heat without breaking down.

Wikipedia has an explanation of why hard clipping can damage speakers in its article on audio clipping. It also mentions another problem with hard clipping that can destroy speakers, upper level harmonics, but that is probably not the main concern.


Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Thanks for the info, Jim. Has anyone tried another DVD app that would be supported by Win8 and this Dell computer?

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Sorry for the delay in replying -- been under the weather.

The CyberLink PowerDVD that was included with the laptop should support 8 or should upgrade to a version that supports 8. You should be able to find the software for your laptop at My Dell Downloads.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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DellEMC

Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Great Post Jimco

If anyone was refused help by technical support when the only troubleshooting performed was finding VLC player installed please feel free to private message me. Just click on my portrait or the link in my signature and then click start conversation.  In your message please include your contact information, the service tag of the notebook and any case numbers that tech support may have offered. I will be happy to investigate further.

 

<Further edit>

For those of you that have asked for official Dell documentation on the subject please take a look at the following link.

Issue with increased volume while using VLC media player 

When using VLC media player, volume can be increased to max output. This eventually distorts the speaker output. If audio/video playback is continuously done using VLC with max volume (100%) over a period of time then even if the volume is kept at a lower level sound would be distorted. This distortion is permanent. 

Why does this happen? 

Some audio application like VLC player will allow large power output through speaker, approx 200% to 400% of original sound output. In this situation, excessive usage may damage the speaker. 

What is the resolution? 

If you are using VLC or any other amplification software, ensure that both the inbuilt audio output is set to 90% and output volume from amplification software is set to 95%

 

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Hello Jim,

Are you a representative from Dell, if not can you please let us know do any person from dell has replied on such post?

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Hello Jim, Are you a representative from Dell,

Hello. I am 100% independent of the Dell company and do not represent it.

if not can you please let us know do any person from dell has replied on such post?

See the post above yours from Dell - Terry B. Terry B is a Dell liaison.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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DellEMC

Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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MobinKhan

I have replied to your original post

en.community.dell.com/.../19493758.aspx

I would check to see if the distorted sound is present regardless what player that you are using.  I also suggest testing with a head set or external speakers and see if you notice distorted sound then.

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Running your new speakers at MAX volume right out of the box is bad for them. Just like any other item that has moving parts, you got to break them in... I have yet to hear anyone said that VLC broke their speakers on their laptop or desktop...

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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merci pour le  conseille

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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The VLC player has a

capacity to boost the volume upto 200-400%. The speakers installed on HP

notebooks are of 4 Ohms speakers and can take volume only upto 100%. In

case there is any rise in volume above 100%, the brass caps on the speakers

are burnt which in turn damages the speakers. Hence, it is not covered

under warranty

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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i wonder how warranty void if you install any software ? 😮 please some one explain it 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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i wonder how warranty void if you install any software ?

Good question.  Looking at the Dell Limited Hardware Warranty it says that the warranty "covers defects in materials and workmanship". So if Dell sells a customer a laptop with non-defective speakers and the customer ruins the speakers by using software that pushes them beyond their parameters, I can see how that would not be covered under the warranty, because the failure is not caused by a defect but by the software.

-- BUT --

On the other hand we have received reports that tech support has been denying service for speakers if they do a scan and find the VLC player on the laptop, I don't see in the warranty where such a denial of service is explained. The warranty has a section entitled "What is not covered by this limited hardware warranty?". That section does not say that installing any software can cause partial loss of warranty. It is like there is both an official written warranty and a secret unwritten one that they only disclose to folks who call for service.

[Note: if you were refused service by tech support when the only troubleshooting performed was finding VLC player installed, please go back through this thread and read the post from Terry_B that is marked "Verified Answer".]


Edited by jimco  3-17-13

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Is the same thing to say MSI Afterburner broken the video card? Everybody knows that this software used incorrect form can break the video card.

Oh wait!! The warranty take of care this.

Dell Vostro 3550 - i5 - 2410M - AMD Radeon HD 7650M - 8GB DD3 RAM - 500GB 7200 RPM - Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit

I can fly with this model.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Is nothing new.

Installing any overclocking utility for example void many warranty - at CPU and GPU products.

Installing a NOS system in your brand-new car will void also the warranty.

Breaking nuts with a microscope will probably void the warranty.

The manufactures don't have to cover any defects resulted by misuse of their products.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Cheers Jimco

You have to wonder though when do people take heed of warnings such as volume capable of being set at over 100% and the orange to red indicator as a visual warning.  Speakers are always a hard thing to dispute when it comes down to what is covered under warranty.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Hi  all

Has anybody told VLC of this problem ?

Thank you Dennis Friedman

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Has anybody told VLC of this problem ?

Dennis, they know all about it. There are some discussions on the VideoLan forum on this topic. Here  is one.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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HI ,

I am also having the same problem with speakers. But representatives said it is because of VLC. They are not replacing the speakers under warranty.

Kindly help

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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I am also having the same problem with speakers. But representatives said it is because of VLC. They are not replacing the speakers under warranty. Kindly help

Hello. Return to the beginning of this thread (page 1) and read the post marked " Verified Answer". Do what it says in that post.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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This does not surprise me Dell has one rule for their customers and one rule for themselves.....needless to say Dell always looks after itself. They will use anything to wriggle out of it.

If they agree to service the hardware they should make hardware that works with all software.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Peed off again,

If you have had an issue with not receiving a service with a dell notebook because of a failure due to VLC player please private message me. Just click on the link in my signature and click start conversation.  In the message please include the service tag of the notebook and any case numbers that you may have received from tech support.  I will be happy to investigate.

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Dell WOULD.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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I agree that just voiding the warranty because you have VLC installed is wrong, unless Dell can prove damage caused by VLC.  I only have the small Logitech X140 speakers on my Inspiron 660S, but they're fine just for listening to songs I've downloaded while I'm surfing the net.  I use QuickTime and Real Player rather than VLC.  If I really want to crank it up, I have a Sony Sound bar and wireless sub woofer hooked up to my HDTV and Blu Ray and I've got my songs on a flash drive that I can play through the Blu Ray.

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DellEMC

Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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I agree with you mesa_jake and again I would like to invite again any one that has spoke to tech support with a sound issue that has been refused for service to contact me.  Shoot me a private message and include the service tag of the system, any case notes given by tech support and we can go from there.

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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if the speakers in a laptop didn't suck so much we wouldn't need to use vlc player to have any decent volume levels

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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i love this brand..

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Hi ,

I faced this issue. I have my laptop inspiron 3420 service tag <Admin Note: removed per privacy policy~RK>. 

I am facing Sound issue from one week before I raised complain to Dell Customer care. The service request number is <Admin Note: removed per privacy policy~RK>

During the call they asked what are the media player installed on your Laptop I told them i have Widnows 8 VLC and media player. And they eventuallu said you installed VLC so warranty cannot be provided.  I raised complain on 20th Of May 2013. and in my laptop Installation date of VLC is 19 may 2013..

I used the  VLC only  once since I have to give a client presentation. Also my VLC support only 200% amplification.

I explained this to customer care also but neither they respond not send any technical man to check that the Speaker are damange by VLC.

How in one night Speaker get damaged. It simply put a question mark on quality of product.

Please look into this.

waiting for your response. 

Thanks

Ashutosh

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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hi

i have recently purchaged dell vastro 2520. Now my left side speaker is not working and dell is saying "we cant cover this type of damage.it is due to VLC player(third party application).So now can u help me plz.

contact info

Mr kartik v

Phone:<TOU Violation>

E mail: <TOU Violation>

Service tag:<TOU Violation>

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VLC player

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but dell have never give this type of explaination with dell systen in company worranty card at time of sellof laptop.

so how can customer know that they should never use VLC player.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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kartikvora,

I will send you a friend request shortly so that we may discuss the difficulties the sound issue that you have experienced with your Vostro.  

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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This is, of course, complete nonsense.

VLC uses software amplification, so at worse, you clip everything. It's like saying that you should not listen to metal or experimental music because it is more saturated and might destroy your speakers. The software cannot make the difference.

VLC only uses the normal system APIs, so at worse, it will have a fully saturated output, that could be caused by the input OR the software amplification. If the laptop speakers cannot hold what the audio card is outputting, the issue is in the drivers.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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yes ,

i was denied replacement of  my laptop speakers by dell as vlcc has been installed on the system

My case number is:-<Admin Note: removed per privacy policy~RK>dated:-11/07/2013,dell express service code:-<Admin Note: removed per privacy policy~RK>

please do something as my laptop is under warranty ,

From,

vivek kamboj(<Admin Note: removed per privacy policy~RK>)

C/o. Thinksoft Computer Solutions

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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please do something

Several times in this thread Terry_B has said to send him a private message if you find yourself in this situation, so your best bet is to do that. Click on his name -- in any of his posts up above -- to get to his personal page, then "Start Conversation".

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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i did not installed VLC media player but dell has refused to replace my speaker.

      i was using those app only gave me dealer at the time of purchase.

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Re: VLC player

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i in same situation

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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i am in same situation please help

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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i am in same situation please help

Several times in this thread Terry_B has said to send him a private message if you find yourself in this situation, so your best bet is to do that. Click on his name -- in any of his posts up above -- to get to his personal page, then "Start Conversation".

I can't make it any clearer than that.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Thanks Jimco,

My inbox gets pretty crowded and it can take a little while for me to reach out to everyone, but I will do my best to do so.  If any of you have had a issue where tech support has refused service simply because VLC was found installed on your system please shoot me a private message. In the message include your full name, service tag of the system, and any case numbers provided by tech support.

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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so it doesn't means that laptop will be damaged in 1 or 2 days...!!  u can't void warrenty...!! 

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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thanx for answering JIMCO.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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If your warranty could be voided by using a program in my eyes that would be a dark Day at Dell.. and the first of its kind.. and some how I dont by it would ever be so..

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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In my laptop left side speaker is not working. I purchase just before 1 month. I noticed this problem 2 days before as I am normally using external speakers. I called technical support but they told me that as vlc is installed your computer it will not cover under warranty. actually while purchasing nobody told anything about this and also not gave any written documents regarding warranty lapse. Actually I need information regarding any written document of this warranty lapse. Right now I am forced to go for Consumer court.

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Re: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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I called technical support but they told me that as vlc is installed your computer it will not cover under warranty. actually while purchasing nobody told anything about this and also not gave any written documents regarding warranty lapse.

Hello. Several times in this thread Dell_Terry B has said to send him a private message if you find yourself in this situation, so your best bet is to do that. Click on his name (in blue)  to get to his personal page, then "Start Conversation".

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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RE: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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My name is Someshwar Upare from Gurgaon and I get the same problem with VLC player maximum voice. My service Tag is <Admin Note: removed per privacy policy~RK>. I have used Inspiron  15 R  & warranty period has been expired.My Laptop right side speaker gets damage.Voice is very clumsy from that speaker. Any software solution on the same or provide me service center list in sector 15 Gurgaon Haryana.

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RE: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Hello. Because you are out of warranty, you can go to any competent computer repair shop. The Dell carry-in service center is

Gurgaon Nm-15, 1st Floor, Old DLF Colony, Sector-14, Gurgaon - 122 002, Haryana. (Landmark:  Near Kalyani Hospital) 0124-4047625 Sunday 9:30AM - 6:30PM

If you need the Service Manual for your Inspiron 15R N5110, it is here. Click on the "more languages" button to have the manual in the language of your choice. The Service Manual shows you how to dis-assemble the laptop and how to replace the speakers. It is a simple process for a person experienced with working in laptop computers, but not brief because most of the laptop must be dis-assembled in order to get to the speakers. You can buy replacement speakers from a variety of sources. This is an example.

As far as software solutions, you said that the speaker "gets damage". If you mean that the speaker is physically damaged then there is not a software solution. You should connect headphones to the headphone jack and listen. Lower the volume of the VLC player to 100% or lower. Do not exceed 100%.  If the sound coming through the headphones is normal but is distorted when you listen to the speakers, then most probably a speaker is damaged.

A suggestion: you could set your balance control so that sound only comes out of the left speaker, but if you do that then you will not hear the right channel of stereo content. [To change the balance: right click on the audio icon on the taskbar. Select Playback devices. Select "Speakers/Headphones". Click the "Properties" button. Select the "Levels" tab. Click the "Balance" button and slide the sliders.]

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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RE: WARNING !!! installing VLC Media Player could void your warranty!

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Hi Terry,

I have shoot you a private message. Please help me in getting this resolved.

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RE: WARNING! installing VLC Media Player voids your speaker warranty!!!

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sir i have the same problem that i am not getting servicing from dell due to vlc player installed on my notebook....instead i didn't used it anyways...so please sir kindly help me so that i can get my speakers replaced......i will be highly thankful to you....!!!!!!!!!

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RE: WARNING! installing VLC Media Player voids your speaker warranty!!!

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.so please sir kindly help me so that i can get my speakers replaced

Hello nehalirshad.

Send DELL - Terry B a private message. The way to do that is to click on his name in the blue letters. That will take you to his profile page where you can click on "send a private message" or "add as friend".

In your message include your contact information, the service tag of the notebook and any case numbers that tech support may have offered. Terry B will investigate further.

Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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