I Have Low Volume When Playing Through a USB Headset

By Shea Laverty

The USB headsets in your office can add great utility for Voice over IP applications, but only if they're working properly. Poor sound performance from a USB headset might occur for a number of reasons, and some can be easily corrected. To restore a headset to working order, you first must troubleshoot the source of the problem.

Hardware Volume

Begin the troubleshooting process by checking the volume control on the headset itself. If the volume is set below the desired level, then output obviously will be low. Adjust the volume control knob or buttons to boost the sound level. This solution only applies if your USB headset features manual volume control.

Application Volume

Another potential cause of poor sound performance is the application with which you are using the headset. Most media players, VoIP apps and other software that utilize a headset have built-in volume control settings. Check the app's volume setting -- it may be set lower than your system volume or the manual volume on your headset, resulting in diminished playback volume.

Device Audio Level

If the manual volume control and app volume both are set at the desired level but volume is still too low, the problem may be the configured audio levels for your device on your computer. You can check this by opening the Control Panel and selecting the "Hardware and Sound" section. Look under the Sound heading for a "Manage Audio Devices" option. From here, you can see what audio input and output devices are connected to your computer, and you can select which are enabled or disabled. From each device's Properties menu, you can also configure audio levels as well as bass boost, loudness equalization and other options. Changing these settings may enhance the performance of your headset.

Driver Error

If all volume control and audio levels are set as they should be and performance is still lacking, your headset's device drivers may be out-of-date or not working correctly. Drivers must be working properly for your hardware to communicate with the computer, so you'll need to replace or update obsolete drivers. Keeping drivers up-to-date may also prevent or eliminate other performance issues.

Device Failure

If your troubleshooting efforts have not produced the desired sound level, your headset itself may be malfunctioning or damaged. Normal wear and tear as well as flaws in the manufacturing process can adversely affect the performance of your USB headset. If this is the case, you'll need to contact the manufacturer for detailed diagnosis and repair or replace the headset.