How to Troubleshoot Audio on Windows

When troubleshooting Windows audio, first make sure to properly connect your speakers or headphones. Carefully inspect the hardware connections and verify that the audio device is powered on.

Encountering audio issues on your Windows device can be frustrating. Learning how to troubleshoot audio on Windows is easy if you know where to look.

Below, we’ve outlined solutions to quickly diagnose and resolve common sound issues on your PC like persistent humming, sudden silences, or erratic sound behavior.

Remember, rebooting is a fundamental step in troubleshooting! Always restart your device before exploring more complex options.

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting:

Basic Audio Checks

When troubleshooting Windows audio, first make sure to properly connect your speakers or headphones. Carefully inspect the hardware connections and verify that the audio device is powered on.

Ensure your device is not muted. Check the taskbar, located in the lower right corner of the screen, to access basic settings. The taskbar is pictured below, note in this example, the sound icon displays a speaker with an “X” next to it. This indicates the audio is muted.

Image of the  task bar showing the speaker with an x over it directly indicating the sound is muted on your windows laptop/pc

Clicking this icon will unmute the sound.

Adjust the volume level, using the slider in the ‘Quick Settings’ shown below.

The 'Quick Settings' menu, being used in furtherance of troubleshooting windows audio, showing the 'Speaker' icon with an x over it, indicating it is muted.

The ‘Quick Settings’ menu in Windows provides fast access to commonly used settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, and Audio Controls. Open it by clicking the ‘Network’, ‘Sound’ or ‘Battery’ icons on your task bar (shown above). This will allow for quick adjustments without navigating through the full ‘Settings’ app.

Once you are in the Windows settings, you can adjust volume on both your external devices (if applicable), and internal devices.

Click on the two audio jack symbols to the right of the speaker volume bar. This will display a menu, allowing you to choose between audio outputs that are available.

Here, we have selected the ‘Speakers (Realtek(R) Audio)’ audio output, indicated by the vertical blue line. Sometimes toggling between devices may be enough to resolve the issue. If not, then proceed to the next step in the troubleshooting process.

Screenshot of the Windows SOund Output menu displaying the output devices available on the device.

Update Your Audio Drivers

Drivers are essential software that enables your system to communicate with hardware devices. When troubleshooting Windows audio, updating the drivers can often resolve issues.

An image of the device manager for windows from the windows start menu, used in furtherance of troubleshooting windows audio.

The Windows Device Manager organizes your PC’s hardware into a list format, which simplifies the process of updating drivers and troubleshooting.

To open Device Manager, you can either search from the start menu or use the Windows Key + X shortcut. Select Device Manager from the list of actions and click ‘Open’..

To update your audio drivers using the Device Manager, scroll down to ‘Sound, video and game controllers’, and then click on the tab to expand it.

Under the expanded tab, shown below, the drivers are listed in alphabetical order. The main audio device typically has a brand name, such as Realtek or Intel, which may or may not include ‘Audio’. To update the driver, right-click the audio device and select ‘Update Driver’.

A picture of the Device Manager in windows with the Sound, Video and game controller tab open. Highlighted device indicates a potential audio issue for troubleshooting.

In the above example, “Realtek (R) Audio” is the internal speaker of the laptop.

Select ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’. Windows will check to see if there are any potential driver updates that have been missed.

If all drivers are correct and up to date but there’s still no sound, the next step should be fully restarting the audio services.

Restart Your Audio Services

To restart audio services in Windows, use the ‘Windows Audio Endpoint Builder’. The Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service is like a behind-the-scenes helper that makes sure your computer’s sound system is set up correctly for playing and recording sounds.

The endpoint rebuilder is located in ‘Services’. Services organize the background programs and processes that handle the functions or daily tasks of the computer.

Press the Windows key + R, and then type services.msc, and hit enter, or select it from the start menu like the previous troubleshooting step.

A screenshot of the windows "Run" client, where you may find "Services" to access the Windows Audio Endpoint Rebuilder

Locate ‘Windows Audio’ and ‘Windows Audio Endpoint Builder’ services.

A screenshot of the services client with the Windows Audio Endpoint Highlighted, featuring the description of service with the stop and restart options visible

Right-click and select ‘Restart’ for both services. Run the Windows Audio Troubleshooter

The built-in Windows Audio Troubleshooter automatically diagnoses and fixes common sound problems. You can access it through the “System” section within the Settings menu, where it helps identify and resolve audio issues with minimal user intervention.

Go to Settings > System > Troubleshoot > Select “Other troubleshooters”

Screenshot of the Windows 'Other troubleshooters' menu showing various options including 'Audio' with a 'Run" button next to it.

Select ‘Audio’ and click ‘Run the troubleshooter’.

Windows will ask for your consent to run automated diagnostics on your computer to try and troubleshoot and resolve your audio issues.

Screenshot of a Windows support page with an option to 'Run Windows Audio Troubleshooter'.  The search bar suggests typing in the problem for personalized help. Below is a highlighted 'Contact SUpport' Button, providing users with additional assistance options.

Restore Your System

If all else fails, consider using a system restore to return your computer to a previous point when the audio was functioning.

By successfully following this guide, you should be able to troubleshoot and resolve your Windows audio issues. However, if challenges persist, it may be beneficial to consult a professional or explore hardware replacement options.

Link to Microsoft’s Support Page

Microsoft Support-Fix Audio or Sound Problems

If you have questions about troubleshooting Windows audio, or our services, just call or email. We’re happy to assist you! Feel free to use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!

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