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How to Troubleshoot Audio or Sound Playback Issues

Summary: This article provides information about how to troubleshoot and resolve audio playback issues such as no audio, no or low sound, intermittent sound, choppy, jarring, stuttering,See more

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Article Content


Symptoms

If you are experiencing any of the following sound or audio playback symptoms on your Dell computer, follow the steps in this article to troubleshoot and resolve the sound or audio playback issue.

  • Low or no sound or audio during playback.
  • Stuttering, jarring, distorted, crackling, or choppy audio.
  • Playback sound is intermittent.
  • Static, white noise, or hissing.
  • Audio device disappears after a Windows update.

Having trouble with the microphone on your Dell computer? Learn How to Troubleshoot Audio or Sound Recording Issues.

Cause

Audio playback issues can occur due to corrupt audio drivers, speaker or headphone connection, incorrect audio playback settings, and more.

Resolution

Expand the sections below for more information, and follow the troubleshooting steps in a sequence.

Audio ports are exposed to elements that may cause a build-up of dust or even physical damage. Audio performance issues may occur if there is any damage that is caused to the audio cables or the audio ports on the computer.

If you notice that the port or connector has dust or other contaminants, use a can of compressed air to clean the ports.

WARNING: Do not use any type of cleaning solution, water, or even a damp cloth. Turn off the computer, and disconnect the audio and power cable (if any) before using the can of compressed air to clean the ports.

If you notice physical damage, contact Dell Technical Support to learn more about repair options that are available in your region. If there is no damage, go to the next step.

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A simple reboot can resolve many issues almost immediately. Restarting the computer effectively clears the memory (RAM) and ensures that any errant processes and services that start are shut down.

Restarting the computer closes all the applications and software running on the computer. This includes applications running on the taskbar and services that are running in the background.

WARNING: Before restarting the computer, ensure to bookmark open web pages, save any open documents, spreadsheets, or other unsaved work.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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Standard speakers or headphones

Most desktop computers come with 3 or more audio connectors. Most laptops come with one combo connector that supports both headphones and a microphone. Verify that the speaker or soundbar cables are connected properly from the device to the computer. Audio connectors and plugs on the sound card are color-coded on desktops to help with a proper connection (Figure 1).

Illustration of audio ports on a desktop computer
Figure 1: Illustration of audio ports on a desktop computer. To learn what each color code means, see the User Manual of your Dell computer.

NOTE: All Dell laptops have integrated speakers. Use an earphone or headphones to identify if the issue is with the integrated speakers. For Dell monitors with integrated speakers, verify that the HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB-C Thunderbolt 3 cable is connected between the computer and the monitor (these cables support both audio and video on the same cable).
  1. Ensure that the speakers or soundbar is powered using the manufacturer-provided power cable, AC adapter, batteries, or USB cable.
    NOTE: Depending on the type or model, the speaker or soundbar may use an AC adapter, power cable, USB power, or batteries to provide power. See the user manual of the speaker or soundbar to learn more.
  2. Connect the speaker or headphone jack directly into the line-out or speaker-out connector on the computer.
  3. Turn up the volume using the volume knob on the speaker or soundbar. See the user manual of the speaker or soundbar on how to control the volume.
  4. Test the sound playback on the computer.
    • Right-click the Volume or speaker icon in the notification area (bottom-right corner) and select Open sound settings.
    • Under Output, click Manage sound devices.
    • Under Output devices, select the correct speaker, and click Test.
    • You must hear an audio jingle.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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Bluetooth speakers or headphones

  1. Turn on the Bluetooth speaker, and put it into discoverable mode.
    NOTE: To learn how to put the Bluetooth speaker into discoverable mode, see the device's User Manual.
  2. Turn on Bluetooth on the computer.
  3. Pair the Bluetooth speaker with the computer.
    NOTE: Once the Bluetooth speaker and the computer are paired, the devices connect automatically when they are in the range of each other with Bluetooth activated. The range of the Bluetooth signal may vary across different Bluetooth devices.
     
    NOTE: Some Bluetooth speakers may require a passcode to pair and connect, see the User Manual of the Bluetooth speaker for device-specific instructions.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete pairing or connecting the Bluetooth speaker.

Learn How to Pair Dell Bluetooth Devices in Windows 11 and Windows 10. Or learn how to Connect to a Bluetooth Device From Your Dell Computer in Windows 8(8.1).

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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The default audio playback device is Microsoft Windows's device to output (play) sound. You can select which device to use by default when connecting speakers, soundbar, earphones or headphones, Bluetooth headset, or other audio devices to the computer. Windows can play audio through the speaker or line-out port, Bluetooth, HDMI, DisplayPort (DP), or USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. Selecting the correct playback device and checking the volume settings for audio playback to work on the computer is essential.

NOTE: By default, Windows does not show you devices that are disabled or disconnected. If your device is not listed in the playback devices window, right-click anywhere in the blank space and click Show Disabled Devices and Show Disconnected Devices.
 
NOTE: Only one device can be set as a default sound or audio playback device.
To set a default playback device and check volume settings
  1. Right-click the Volume or speaker icon in the notification area (bottom-right corner) and select Open sound settings.
  2. Under Choose your output device, select the speaker or audio device you would like to use.
  3. Click the Volume or speaker icon in the notification area and set the volume to your preference.
    NOTE: Check the volume settings on the application in use. For example, Windows Media Player, VLC player, YouTube video, and more.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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Microsoft Windows includes various troubleshooters that are designed to quickly diagnose and automatically resolve many personal computer problems. Although Windows Troubleshooter cannot fix hardware problems, they are a great place to start if you encounter a problem with the computer. Windows Troubleshooters are built into the Control Panel in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8.

How to run the Windows Sound Troubleshooter in Microsoft Windows 11 or Windows 10?

  1. Click Start, and then select Settings (gear icon).
  2. Click Update & Security and select Troubleshoot.
  3. Click Playing Audio and then click Run the troubleshooter.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the troubleshooting process.

How to run the Windows Sound Troubleshooter in Microsoft Windows 8.1 or 8?

  1. Right-click Start, and then select Control Panel.
  2. Under System and Security, click Find and fix problems.
  3. Under Hardware and Sound, click Troubleshoot audio playback.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the troubleshooting process.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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Dell recommends updating the device drivers and BIOS as part of your scheduled update cycle. Device drivers and BIOS updates may contain feature enhancements or changes that help keep your system software current and compatible with other computer modules (hardware and software) as well as increased stability.

It is essential to update the following device drivers for optimal audio or sound playback performance and to resolve common audio or sound playback-related issues:

  • BIOS
  • Chipset
  • Audio driver

Download and install the latest Dell drivers from the Dell.com/support/drivers website.

NOTE: If the BIOS is already updated to the latest version, reset the BIOS to factory defaults. Learn about Dell BIOS Updates.

How to Update your System Setup (BIOS)

Duration: 02:06
Closed captions: Click the CC icon, and then select the preferred language.

NOTE: The primary audio jack detection software is MaxxAudio which is part of the Realtek audio driver package. The MaxxAudio software may fail to install if an anti-virus software blocks the installation or the associated service with the driver. Certain configurations of McAfee anti-virus, for example, can cause this behavior.

Download the Realtek audio driver, and extract the contents to a location on the hard drive. Go to the extracted files and run the MaxxAudio Installer (x64 or x86) to install the software manually.

Once installed, restart the computer and ensure the anti-virus is not blocking the associated service with MaxxAudio, often described as Waves Audio Service in the services menu. The services .exe (WaveSvc64.exe or WavesSysSvc64.exe, for example) may need to be added to the anti-virus exception list to resolve.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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Running a hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware-related problems and provide you with troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue. To determine if your Dell computer is experiencing a hardware problem, it is recommended that you first run a hardware diagnostic test. Dell offers both integrated and online diagnostics.

Running hardware-diagnostic test using Dell SupportAssist

If the computer can boot into Windows and has an active Internet connection, run a hardware diagnostic test on the sound or audio card using Dell SupportAssist.

Running Dell SupportAssist Preboot System Assessment or enhanced Preboot System Assessment (Dell PSA or ePSA)
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, press the F12 key to enter the One-time Boot Menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics and press the Enter key.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
    • If the test passes, go to the next step.
    • If the test fails, ensure to write down the error code and validation code, and contact Dell Technical Support.

ePSA Preboot System Assessment (Official Dell Tech Support on YouTube)

Duration: 02:28
Closed captions: Click the Settings icon, and then click Subtitles/CC, and then select your preferred language or auto-translate.

Performing a Hardware Scan using Dell SupportAssist

Duration: 02:11
Closed captions: Click the CC icon, and then select the preferred language.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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Windows updates can support your Windows operating system in many ways. Windows updates can solve specific problems, provide protection from malicious attacks, or even add new features to the operating system.

How to install Windows Updates in Microsoft Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 8 or 8.1?

  1. Right-click Start and click Settings.
  2. In the Settings panel, click Update & Security.
  3. In the left panel, select Windows Update.
  4. On the right panel, click Check for updates.
  5. Restart the computer after downloading and installing the updates.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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System Restore is an integrated Windows tool that is designed to protect and repair the operating system. When something goes wrong with your computer, System Restore should be used before restoring the computer to factory default settings.

Learn How to Use System Restore in Microsoft Windows.

If the audio playback issue persists, go to the next step.

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If the diagnostic tests on the audio or sound card passed, it is most definitely an issue that is related to software installed on the computer. If the above troubleshooting steps did not resolve the issue, you can try to restore the computer to factory default settings as a last resort.

Dell computers are built with a small amount of hard disk space that is reserved for reinstalling the operating system. This method is the easiest way to restore the computer to factory condition. The restoration process deletes all user data from the computer, so be sure to back up all your files before beginning this process.

WARNING: Restoring the computer to factory defaults or reinstalling the operating system using any recovery media erases all data on the computer. Be sure to back up all important data like documents, spreadsheets, images, and videos before restoring or reinstalling the operating system.

Select the operating system that is installed on your computer to find more information about how to restore the computer to factory default settings:

NOTE: After restoring or reinstalling the operating system, it is recommended that you download and install the latest device drivers from the Dell.com/support/drivers website.

Perform a Reset in Windows 10

Duration: 01:36
Closed captions: Click the CC icon, and then select the preferred language.

If the audio playback issue persists after restoring or reinstalling the operating system, contact Dell Technical Support.

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Additional Information

Troubleshoot Audio Related Issues

Duration: 02:34
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the CC icon, and then select the preferred language.

Troubleshooting Audio Issues in Windows 8 or Windows 10

Duration: 02:26
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the CC icon, and then select the preferred language.

How to Fix Audio Problems (Official Dell Tech Support on YouTube)

Duration: 01:54
Closed captions: Click the Settings icon, and then click Subtitles/CC, and then select your preferred language or auto translate.

 

SLN146399_en_US__13Audio(1) Browse our Audio and Speakers site for more information and support.


Out of Warranty support Out of warranty? No problem. Browse to the Dell.com/support website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.

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Article Properties


Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops, Workstations

Product

Chromebox, Alienware, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

04 May 2022

Version

21

Article Type

Solution