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Reference Guides to Help Setup and Troubleshoot Windows Audio and Sound Cards

By LookinAround
Aug 25, 2010
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  1. Reference Guide to Help Setup and Troubleshoot Windows Audio and Sound Cards

    Reference Guide to Help Setup and Troubleshoot Windows Audio and Sound Cards
    Updated October, 2010

    Understanding "How sound works" and fixing your sound when it doesn't, can sometimes be a challenge! So.... I thought i'd share and summarize some of my favorite "Best of" links about sound :)
    Note: If you're here troubleshooting a sound problem, be sure to scroll down to see both the Troubleshooting section and my footnotes below​

    Note about the links below:
    > Some links are from vendors like HP, Gateway and Intel
    > But even if your computer (or motherboard) is from a different vendor you'll still find much of HP's, Gateway's, etc. info and guidance still applies

    General Guides (about Audio setup, Installation and "How things work")
    Troubleshooting Windows Audio

    If you're running XP

    If you're running Vista

    If you're running Windows 7
    Footnotes - (tips and tricks!)
    1. Don't confuse simple beep tones with sounds from a sound card
      Windows doesn't need a sound card to create simple beep tones. You can test for simple beep tones with the Beepex tool. Download and run it. If your computer has internal speakers, Windows should be able to generate tones even without a working sound card

    2. Is Windows failing to detect your sound card hardware?
      Here's a few tricks that sometimes help
      • Check your BIOS to see if there's a setting for Onboard Audio
        If you're using onboard audio (and the setting appears in BIOS) it should typically be set to something like Automatic or Enabled
        > Also, try toggling the Onboard Audio setting off then back on and rebooting each time can SOMETIMES help Windows redetect a missing sound card

      • Are you trying to get sound over an HDMI cable? Is the HDMI cable connected to an addon graphics card?
        Check if sound drivers are installed for your add on graphics card. Addon graphics cards with HDMI often need the audio driver the vendor before it will output audio over HDMI

      • Does your computer support Hi Def Audio (vs. the older AC97 standard. AC97 is not Hi Def audio)
        If your machine supports Hi Def Audio then, by definition, your computer has both an audio controller chip PLUS a sound card which connect to each other like this:
        Windows <==> Hi Def Audio Bus Controller <==> Hi Def Sound Card
        Reinstalling the driver for your audio bus controller will make it search for your Sound Card again (which SOMETIMES helps it get redetected)
        • Open Device Manager. Look under System Devices for your audio bus controller:
          > For XP, look for Microsoft UAA Bus Driver for High Definition Audio
          > For Vista and Windows 7, it'll probably be listed as Hi Def Audio Controller (or something similar)
        • Rt click the audio controller, select Uninstall. Then reboot
        • On reboot, Windows automatically reinstalls the driver and then looks for a sound card. Check if your Sound Card now gets listed under Sound Devices in Device Manager

    3. Test your Windows sounds
      When testing for sound card problems, I've sometimes found it easiest and best to first verify that your Windows sounds will play
      => If your Windows sounds play OK but other sound doesn't, your sound card is probably OK. Check for missing audio codecs
      • Click Control Panel->Sound, select the Sounds tab. Select a Windows sound
      • Click the triangular button to play the sound. Can you hear it?
        ==> Also note, if you find the selections are "dimmed" it means Windows can't find a working sound card on your machine
        ==> Windows must be able to both detect your sound card hardware AND install its drivers before the sound card can work
      [​IMG]
    4. Be sure to check your default playback device
      If your computer can playback on multiple devices, verify your default Sound playback device is set correctly
      > Click Control Panel->Sound, select the Audio tab
      > In my example below, note, in my case, i have multiple playback devices to choose from
      ==> Also note, if you find the selections are "dimmed" it means Windows can't find a working sound card on your machine
      ==> Windows must be able to both detect your sound card hardware AND install its drivers before the sound card can work
      [​IMG]


    5. Reinstalling the audio drivers
      When you try a clean reinstall of the audio drivers don't trust the new driver to always uninstall the old one correctly
      • Download and SAVE the latest version of the audio drivers on your Desktop (you can usually find the latest drivers on the system or motherboard provider's driver/download support website - e.g Dell, HP, Foxconn, etc)
      • Check if your current audio driver package is listed. Look in: (For XP) CtlPnl->Add/Remove Programs or (For Vista and Win7) CtlPnl->Programs and Features) and if so, first uninstall it from there
      • After you see its uninstalled from Add/Remove or Programs and Features, try the reinstall
     

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