My Speakers Won't Work

by Jason Artman

Sound is an integral part of the experience of using a computer. Whether you use your computer to listen to music, play games or watch videos online, it is immediately noticeable if your computer's speakers are not working properly. Thankfully, most problems that occur with computer speakers are resolved with little effort.

Computer with screen monitor turned off to restart

Restart your computer and test the sound. Running old, incompatible or poorly written software can cause a number of transient issues that are resolved by restarting Windows.

Sound board on an Apple notebook computer

Test your computer's sound using different programs to confirm that a change or update made in one program is not preventing only that one program from producing sound.

Insert CD into computer to test sound

Click the speaker-shaped icon in the lower-right corner of the screen, and then use the slider bar that appears to adjust the volume to a reasonable listening level. If the icon had a superimposed red circle before you performed this step, the sound should now be fixed. Test your speakers again before continuing.

Pair of computer speakers

Look for an indicator light on the front of your speakers and verify that it is lit. Most computer speakers require power from an external source in order to amplify sound. If the indicator light is on, skip the next step and go to the following one.

Power cables to connect speakers to computer

Look for a power cable connection on the back of one of the speakers. If you see a power connection, verify that the power cable is connected and plugged into a working power outlet. If the speakers are connected to a power outlet, look for a power button or switch to turn the speakers on. Batteries can also power some smaller speakers. If this is the case with your speakers, replace the batteries with new ones to determine whether the problem is caused by dead batteries.

Close up of lap top sound board

Check the connection from the speakers to the computer. If you have a laptop, the speaker connector usually has an icon shaped like a pair of headphones. If you have a desktop or tower computer, the speaker connector is generally on the back and usually color-coded green. If you have a set of surround speakers with multiple audio cables, consult the instruction manual for the correct installation procedure.

Man using headphones with laptop

Connect a pair of known-good headphones to the speaker jack if you are still unable to hear sound from the speakers. If you hear sound, the speakers are most likely faulty and need replacement. If you do not hear sound, continue to the next section.

Attempting to reboot device

Press the Windows logo and "R" keys on the keyboard simultaneously to open the "Run" dialog box. Type "devmgmt.msc" in the box and then press "Enter." The Device Manager appears.

Sound key installed on laptop

Double-click "Sound, video and game controllers." This expands the multimedia category of the Device Manager. If you have a sound device installed, it is displayed. If you do not know the type of audio device installed in your computer, look for something with "Audio" or "Sound" in the title, such as "Sound Blaster Audigy" or "SigmaTel High Definition Audio."

Young man listening to music

Right-click the audio device, and then click "Properties." If your sound device is installed correctly, the message displayed in this window is "This device is working properly." If you see this message and have followed all of the steps in Section 1, contact your computer or sound device manufacturer for further support. If you do not see this message or no sound device is shown in the Device Manager, continue to the next step.

Reinstalling computer drive

Download and reinstall the driver for your sound device. The driver is available from the computer manufacturer's website. If you assembled your own computer or it has a sound card rather than a built-in sound chip, download the driver from the motherboard or sound card manufacturer's website. The support pages for several sound card manufacturers are under "Resources."

About the Author

Jason Artman has been a technical writer since entering the field in 1999 while attending Michigan State University. Artman has published numerous articles for various websites, covering a diverse array of computer-related topics including hardware, software, games and gadgets.

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