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Video: Resolving Sound Problems (Windows Vista)

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq desktop PCs that shipped with Microsoft Windows Vista.
As sound hardware and software get more complex, audio issues can arise that are hard to resolve. We have heard from customers that PCs with Windows Vista are having a variety of sound issues. These issues range from low-volume to no sound at all, or even audio device errors. Knowing that customers were struggling with sound, we decided to create a video that describes the main troubleshooting steps to resolve most sound issues. We also give tips along the way to make you more knowledgeable about sound systems, troubleshooting, and how to find additional help.

HP Video: Resolving Sound Problems for Desktop PCs with Windows Vista

Basic steps to troubleshoot sound issues:
The above video discusses all of the following steps in detail. You should check for sound after completing each step.
  1. Make sure you have powered speakers or headphones and that you plug your speakers into the correct ports on the PC. Passive speakers (speakers without a power source) will not work well on PCs running Vista.
  2. Check all volume and mute settings because there is more than one volume control. Start by making sure the volume knob on the monitor or speakers is turned up, and then set the volume in Windows.
  3. Make sure the speakers or connection you want to use are selected as the "default" playback device in the Windows Sound Properties.
  4. Check Device Manager to see if your sound device is enabled and working properly. Re-enable the device as necessary and update the driver while still in Device Manager.
  5. Use HP Application Recovery to re-install the original driver that came with the PC and was designed for your hardware.
  6. Use HP Hardware Diagnostic Tools to test the hardware and software for failures.
  7. Search the Internet for any unique sound issues or symptoms you encounter while troubleshooting.

Tips from customers

NOTE:The following tips from customers are not direct quotes, but were created from feedback responses HP has received about this page.
  • If your sound was working correctly and then suddenly stopped working, use Windows System Restore to roll back your computer settings to a time when the sound was working.
  • Check the BIOS to see if the correct audio device is selected.
  • If you recently changed your operating system (for example, from XP to Vista) and are getting sound errors, install a full-version driver obtained from the original sound device manufacturer. For example, if you have a Realtek sound card, go to the Realtek Web site to get the appropriate driver for your computer.
  • If you are using an HDMI or SPDIF connection for your sound, make sure it is set as the "default device" in the Windows Sound Properties.
The HP Web Support team would like your feedback on this video. You can provide feedback by selecting an answer in the "Help us help you" box on the left of this page. (You might have to scroll down to see it.) Please make your comments as specific as possible so we can improve this video as well as others in the future. Thanks!

Related support

For additional information, read the HP document Resolving Sound Problems in Windows Vista .

Audio transcript

The following is a transcribed version of the audio portion of the video:
Kevin: Hi. I’m Kevin, and this is Randy.
Randy: Howdy.
Kevin: We work for the HP Customer Care Web Support Team, and we look at our customer comments and forum posts, and we try to listen to whatever our customers are telling us. We’re seeing that customers are experiencing sound issues with Window Vista. We’re seeing where customers are telling us that they have no sound, that they have very low volume coming from the speakers, or that they may be getting “No Audio Device is Installed or Detected” error messages. So we decided to create a video to try to help step through this process of troubleshooting and finding out what’s wrong; and getting your sound back to where it’s in working condition for you.
Resolving Sound Problems for HP desktop computers with Windows Vista
Kevin: Like most troubleshooting, you’ve got to start with the basics. What is your hardware? And then look at your software. So we’re going to start with getting to know the PC connections, and what type of speakers you have. Because your speaker types and the way you connect them has everything to do with getting the type of sound that you expect.
Step one: Know Your Connections From Speakers to the PC
Randy: I’ll start with the speakers. Today’s speakers are powered, meaning they require a separate power supply via, in this case, a power cord. Some have batteries. Some are USB. But the most common have just a regular old power cord that plugs into a power outlet in the wall. The other types of speakers are passive. These are the older types. So you may have gone out and bought a new PC, and opened the box to find that there weren’t speakers in there. So you go to the closet, pull these out, plug them in, and you can barely hear them, or can’t hear them at all. That’s because they require a separate power signal going to them, and today’s PCs don’t do that.
Kevin: So - key difference - use powered speakers for current Vista PCs. If you’re buying Vista, you’re going to want a powered speaker system. With your old PC that you bought years ago, these (passive speakers) will work, but for today, just toss these, they’re not going to help you.
Randy: Another type of passive speaker is headphones. They’re really good for testing. The reason these passive speakers work is that they’ve got little tiny speakers and they’re close to your ear. Another type of speaker that you’ll find today comes in monitors. They’re great for a desktop computing environment because you’re right in front of the thing. But they do tend to have smaller speakers. While they have their own power and they can be fairly loud, they may not be loud enough for watching movies from the couch. With speakers, come connections, you know, your cable types. For powered speakers, typically they have their own stereo cable that runs out the back, and that would plug into the lime green port on the back of your PC. Headphones also have a very similar type of connection. Since it’s not really convenient to plug them into the back, headphones plug into the headphone jack on the front of the PC.
Kevin: And it’s green also.
Randy: Yes, it’s green also. You don’t want to confuse these other audio connections (on the front) if you happen to have them on your PC. These are left and right stereo connectors. Those are related to the TV tuner card and are a video input device that you use for recording videos. This particular monitor is an HDMI monitor, so it gets its audio signal through the HDMI cable - both audio and video - so all you have to do is connect the HDMI cable. There are a few things that we’ll get into later with the Windows settings. You’ll have to make a few extra adjustments in there.
Kevin: So it’s just important to know you have those speaker systems. For the rest of this video, we’re going to be sticking with just basic left and right stereo, into the green output port, because if you get sound there, then you have functioning sound and something else is going on with your system.
Step two: Check All Volume and Mute Settings
Randy: You’re thinking "Volume’s pretty basic – I’ve already tried that." Well, there are many different places where volume can occur. Hardware volume – that’s your speakers. Make sure they’re turned on. For these speakers that we’re using, a blue light comes on telling us that it has power. Turn the volume up to about 75%. If you’re trying to use the speakers on your monitor, there’s usually a separate adjustment. In this case, right here. We’re going to turn this up. Oh, the audio was set at zero, so that could have been the problem.
Kevin: So make sure that wherever your audio source is coming from, you turn it up there. OK. Our speakers are turned up. Now it’s the PC we have to focus on.
Randy: That’s right. So the next step is Windows volume. There’s a separate volume control in Windows. So we go over here. In your System Tray, next to the time, there’s a little volume icon. Ah, but look here, we have a problem.
Kevin: Wait a minute. Normally though, if the speakers were working, what would we see there. There would normally just be a speaker icon, right?
Randy: Well, you would have a little volume level adjustment screen pop up and you could go into mixer devices and adjust the volumes and mute settings.
Kevin: Make sure you don’t have it muted. If it’s muted, you won’t hear anything, so you’ll need to remove any mute check boxes, if that were the case. And that might be the problem, too.
Randy: Right. And we’ll get into this a little bit later, if you want to hang with us. If one of these connections was the problem, then you may actually see a speaker icon there without a little red circle. That means that everything’s OK as far as volume, and that Windows is finding an audio device.
Step two a: Check Window Sound Properties. If Vista recognizes the audio device and you still don’t have sound…
Kevin: If you have a functioning volume icon at this point, but still don’t have sound, you need to ensure that the sound properties are set properly in Windows Vista. Click Start, and then Control Panel. And then you select Hardware and Sound, and then select Sound. And when you come in here, depending on the speakers that you have and the system that you have, you’ll have different default settings. For us, we’re looking to use the speakers as default, for our troubleshooting purposes, so select that. And then check your Properties to ensure that the levels and other settings are correct, and set all volumes to an appropriate level. And then click OK.
Randy: But for us, in this particular case, we have no audio output devices installed. Windows is telling us there is a problem. It cannot find and plug into the hardware.
Kevin: So now we’ve got to figure out why the PC is not recognizing an audio device. We’re plugged into the back, there is an audio device, so why doesn’t it see it.
Randy: Well, the key word there is audio device.
Step three. Check Device Manager. Update devices as necessary.
Randy: Let’s go into Device Manager. Click Start, right-click Computer, go to Properties, click Device Manager, and we see a listing of all the devices on the system. Under Sound, Video, and Game Controllers, we have two items. We have the Win TV, that’s our TV tuner card – we don’t want that. And we have Realtek High Definition Audio. That one we do want because that’s our main audio. Look for any sort of symbols like exclamation marks, red marks, triangles - anything like that.
Kevin: So if the device is here and it’s just disabled or not working properly, then you can right-click on it.
Randy: Right. And then you have more options. If you go to Properties, it should tell us more. "This device is disabled - code 22. Click enable device to enable this device." So Windows is actually telling us the fix. You may have another code. It may be code 39 or something else. But you can at least have more information. If we can’t solve it here in this video, you can at least go out and do more research on the Internet and find a solution for this error code in Device Manager. But in this case, we simply want to enable the device. We can either enable it here, or we’ll go back and right-click on the device, and select Enable. So Windows takes a second to enable the device. Now notice down here, the volume icon no longer has that little red circle. So supposedly we have audio. Also, while you’re in Device Manager is a good time to get any updated drivers from Microsoft.
Kevin: Right.
Randy: And an easy way to do that is to right-click on Realtek High Definition Audio or Creative Audio, (if you have Creative), and select update driver software. Just make sure you’re connected to the Internet when you do it. So we’ve enabled the device and everything looks good. We can exit out of Device Manager.
Kevin: So in this scenario, if it were disabled, we would now have sound, right? So I click on that. (Chime sound) OK, we’re hearing sound again. What if that Realtek High Definition sound does not appear in Device Manager?
Randy: Either A: you don’t have a sound card installed, B: it’s not enabled in the BIOS, or C: you don’t have a device driver installed.
Kevin: So then what?
Randy: Well, it is were me, I would suspect the software - that there’s something wrong with the software on the system. Windows tried to install it and there’s a problem.
Kevin: Now there’s something else wrong.
Randy: Right. You’re going to have to put the software back to the way it was.
Step four: Reinstall device using HP Application Recovery
Randy: So the number one thing you can do if you have an HP PC and you haven’t changed the operating system - you haven’t upgraded to Windows Vista, you can go through HP’s application recovery program. Click Start, All Programs, PC Help & Tools, and there’s a program in there called Recovery Manager. Click that. A UAC message comes up – that's User Account Control. Click Continue, and you should go into Recovery Manager. Click the Advanced Options button, and select Reinstall Hardware Drivers That Came With Your Computer. Click Next, click Next again, scroll down the list, and find the audio driver that came with your PC.
Kevin: It will say audio.
Randy: In this case, Realtek High Definition Audio. Select it. Click Next and it reinstalls your driver.
Kevin: So this would be putting it back and saying, “OK, we know the hardware works. Now we’re putting in the original audio driver."
Randy: Right. A driver isn’t just one software file; it’s many different software files. And if for some reason one of those little software files is corrupted or something’s wrong, and Windows can’t plug into it, this puts everything back to the way it was. It forces Window to look at things and get plugged back in. Normally this gets it.
Kevin: What happens if I don’t have the Recovery Manager? What if I deleted my partition or I don’t have Recovery Manager. What if it wasn’t there?
Randy: You have to get the drivers to reinstall them. You would have to go to HP.com. If you’ve changed the operating system, HP may not have the drivers out there. Or you can get them from the sound card manufacturer's website.
Step five : Check for failed hardware
Kevin: It’s hard to imagine, but what if it’s still not working.
Randy: If we’ve done all these things and we still don’t have sound, then I’d start suspecting that we probably have a hardware problem.
Kevin: So what can we do to test to see if it’s the hardware?
Randy: You can open up a program HP has called HP Hardware Diagnostic.
Kevin: So HP has a diagnostic program on here to check the hardware.
Randy: Yes, under Help & Support.
Kevin: Under Help and Support. So Start, Help and Support…
Randy: Go to Troubleshooting Tools.
Kevin: You can see that there’s actually quite a bit of information out here in this tool. Click Troubleshooting Tools.
Randy: Click Hardware diagnostic tools to test computer hardware devices.
Kevin: OK. So we’re going to click Continue from there. And we’re going to the Hardware Diagnostic tool.
Randy: There’s the audio test.
Kevin: Look at right there. Audio: Test your microphone or Sound Card. We want to test the sound card.
Randy: The sound card in this case also equals onboard sound.
Kevin: So here it’s got different tools. Do we want to test the volume?
Randy: You want to Run test.
Kevin: OK.
Randy: We’ve already done all these other things: Control Panel, Device Manager.
Kevin: So it comes up and says "Do you wish to continue?" and we’re just going to say Yes. In this scenario, we have the default set to the speakers, so we would select our speakers since that’s our default, right?
Randy: Yes, just for basic testing, for no sound, let’s select speakers, and click test. (Chime sound) We have sound. But if you don’t have sound, this is yet another indication that there’s a problem.
Kevin: Right. If you didn’t hear sound in these and you tried your output devices and heard nothing, you have buttons down here. One is for passing. If you did hear sound, you click Pass. If it’s not giving you sound, you click Fail, and it’s going to give you some other information to try.
Randy: It will give you some more options. It’s going to recommend that you run a full system test. But if these tests fail, it could indicate that there’s a real hardware problem. You could hook another pair of speakers up to the back. A different pair, like headphones.
Kevin: Right, but you could also open the machine and go in and reseat the sound card or test it. If you have one sound card, pull out the old one, put in a new one, and see if that’s it. But if you’ve gone through all this and you still don’t have sound, and you want instructions that you can read along so you don’t have to try to follow the video all the way through, go to HPs website at hp.com. Select Support and Troubleshooting, put in your model number, and it will take you to your product page. From there, you’ll have all kinds of documentation for almost every issue out there, software, and drivers, and instructions on all of this.
Randy: We hope we fixed you. We hope that you have sound now.
Kevin: Yes. And if you still have feedback you want to give us, keep giving us feedback, because that’s what inspires us to keep creating this.
Randy: Yes.
Kevin: We take your feedback seriously.
Randy: Bye.
Kevin: Bye.
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