Fix common audio problems in Windows 11/10

Audio problems on Windows can be the result of a hardware related issue such as a damaged sound card or a software related issue such as a corrupted driver. Microsoft regularly rolls out updates to fix many of the software-related issues, but you can also fix these issues yourself. If you are using Windows 10 or 11 and experiencing audio problems, this guide will help you find a solution.

Try restarting your PC before troubleshooting. In some cases, a reboot will solve your problem without having to tinker with any settings on your Windows PC. For example, a Windows update may have put the audio drivers on standby until you reboot. If rebooting doesn’t work, try the following solutions.

Check cables or wireless connections

Before changing any settings on your Windows PC, make sure the audio cables are properly plugged into the PC. It is best to disconnect and reconnect all devices to make sure there are no loose connections. While you’re at it, check your cable for physical damage as well. If the cable is damaged, you may need to replace it.

If you are using a Bluetooth headset, external speakers, or any other wireless audio device, make sure it is properly connected to the PC. Press Win + I and select Bluetooth and devices

Make sure your device is properly paired with your PC. When in doubt, remove the device and pair it again. You can delete the device by selecting the vertical ellipse to the right of a device and Remove device

Then pair your audio device again and see if that solves the sound problem.

Check the volume mixer

Windows allows you to adjust the volume app-wise. While the sound icon in your taskbar may not show the mute icon, you may have knowingly or unknowingly changed the volume for a particular app.

You can check the audio output level of a particular app through the volume mixer. To open the volume mixer, right click on the speaker icon on the right side of the taskbar and select Open Volume Mixer

Doing so will take you to the Settings app. You can adjust the volume for all apps via the apps section.

If the volume for any of those apps is closer to 0, turn the mute on again. Bring it up to 100 to test it and see if that fixes the sound problem.

Check the active output device

If you have more than one audio device connected to your PC, the sound may be playing on a different device than the one you’re using. This can especially be the case if you connected the audio device with a USB or HDMI cable, as you have to set these devices as the default yourself.

You can change the audio device through the sound settings. To open the sound settings, right click on the speaker icon on the right side of the taskbar and select Sound settings

At the top of the window you will see an option to Choose where to play sound† Select the correct default audio device and check if that resolves the audio issues on your PC. However, you can also play sound on multiple devices at the same time.

You can also test the audio when you set the default device by selecting the relevant audio device and the To test button on the next screen.

Alternatively, you can also choose a different playback device by going to Control panelHardware and SoundSound† Switch to the Play tab, select a device and select the Set default button from the bottom.

Using the built-in audio troubleshooter

Windows has several built-in troubleshooters, including an audio troubleshooter that can automatically determine and fix the problem. The built-in troubleshooters aren’t always effective, but it’s a good option to try before trying more intrusive solutions.

You can find the built-in troubleshooter in the Settings app. Press Win + I to launch the Settings app and navigate to System Resolving problems Other troubleshooters† In the list of troubleshooters, look for an entry called Play audio and select the Run button next to it.

Follow the on-screen instructions and let Windows try to find and fix problems.

Update, Reinstall, or Roll Back Audio Drivers

If your sound drivers are outdated, corrupted or removed, you may not be able to get audio output. You can fix audio problems caused by a driver by simply updating or reinstalling them. Even without an audio issue, it’s best to update drivers every now and then.

To update or reinstall a driver, you need to use the Device Manager. Press Win + Rtype devmgmt.mscand press Enter to start Device Manager. Look for a category called Sound, video and game controllers and select the small arrow to its left to expand the list.

Locate the driver for the relevant device, right click on it and select Remove device

In many cases you will see a Realtek audio driver, but other devices may be listed separately. You can remove all devices one by one and then select: Action from the ribbon at the top and select Scan for hardware changes

Doing so will reinstall the new drivers for all the devices you removed. Alternatively, if you downloaded the drivers from the manufacturer’s website, right click on the device and select: Update driver

Select Browse my computer for drivers and select the driver files on your PC.

However, in some cases, a driver update may be faulty. If your playback device was working fine until you updated the device driver, you can roll back the driver and use the previously installed device driver. Note that you only have this option if the driver has been updated at least once and Windows still has the older driver it can revert to.

To roll back drivers, right click on the device, select Propertiesswitch to the Driver tab and select Roll back driver

Disable Windows Audio Enhancements

Windows Audio Enhancements is a built-in feature that can improve sound quality on Windows PCs. However, they can also cause sound problems on some PCs. Usually the solution is to simply disable improvements.

You can disable enhancements from the Settings app. Press Win + I to launch the Settings app and navigate to System Sound All sound devices† Select the appropriate audio device and turn the knob next to Improve audio from. Doing this will disable all enhancements.

Restart the Windows Audio service

If you are still trying to restore sound on your Windows 11 or 10, it may be worth restarting the Windows Audio and Windows Audio Endpoint Builder services. The services may also have turned themselves off automatically in some cases, leaving you with no sound.

Press Win + Rtype services.mscand press Enter to launch the Services to console. Search the list for a service called Windows audio† You can do this by pressing Ctrl + Ftyping windows audio in the search box and press Enter

Double click on the service once you find it. As the Service status appears as stoppedjust select the Get started knob.

If the service is already running, select the Stop button and then the Get started button to restart it.

Also check the Startup type† If it is set to something other than automaticallychange it to automatically† When you’re done, select Okay† Repeat the same process for the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder maintenance.

Windows audio issues resolved

Hopefully one of these solutions worked for you and the audio works fine on your PC. If not, however, you may want to consider a system restore. If you are also experiencing some other issues, resetting Windows can be another viable option. Be sure to back up your PC before using any of these options.

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