Troubleshooting Lack of Sound on Windows 8 Computers
Configuring sound has always been my Achilles’ heel, this why I feel qualified to describe the most basic pitfalls that prevent a computer playing music, speaking to you, or just giving a squawk.
Methods for Troubleshooting Windows 8 Audio Problems
- Try 3 Different Sound Sources
- Volume Control – Muted or Set to Zero
- Try Sound on Another Machine
- Check the Windows 8 Volume Control Settings
- Guy Is Wrong! Call for the Device Manager
- Audio Service Error 1293
The whole rationale of this page is there is a simple explanation for why your computer is silent. If you try 3 different types of sound media then miraculously one may suddenly work, and even if all are silent, you may get a clue as to what’s wrong with your system.
For instance, my internet Radio 365 was not working, I could see the music bars but I could hear no sound. Then I spotted what was wrong, the app’s own volume controller was on zero.
I challenge you try these 3 sound sources.
My lowest ebb with computer sound systems was trying to troubleshoot a Window 95 machine; after 30 minutes of fiddling I realized the problem was that the system’s volume control was muted.
Fortunately, I remembered that hard lesson when my Windows 8 laptop would not play music. Consequently, I went straight to the volume control (bottom right of desktop), where I could see that Mr Nobody had set the level to zero, see far screenshot.
My next challenge for you is to find the speaker controller; one way is via Control Panel, ‘Hardware and Sound’. Compare your Windows 8 computer with the screenshot to the right. a) Check that your speaker doesn’t have a red no entry sign, b) humor me and set your slider to 50.
In the case of laptops, check that some fiend hasn’t turned off sound at the external volume switch / button. Or in the case of using a server as a desktop, check the that the Windows Audio service is set to ‘Start’ and not ‘Manual’.
If you are using headphones, check to hear if they work on another machine. Or if you are trying to play one particular CD/DVD, don’t get frustrated by trying the same old thing, narrow down the fault by playing it on another machine.
An obvious variation is to swap your speakers, or headphones, with ones that are known to work on another machine. As you try these swapping experiments take note of the symbols on the sockets; color coding has reduced problems with faulty hardware connections, but the black male speaker plugs won’t work if you put them into the pink microphone socket.
I believe that checking what works on a second machine is an underestimated troubleshooting technique. It can be infuriating going around in circles trying the same thing that keep failing. Thus getting a small success, such as audio working on a second machine, helps to put me in a positive ‘can do’ mood.
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More Ideas for No Sound on a Windows 8 Laptop
One side-effect of the blame culture is that people no longer admit – even to themselves, that they have made a mistake. My contention is that your problem is not with the sound card’s driver, but with some simple setting that is preventing your Windows 8 machine from producing a noise.
I also want to protect you from wasting money. When my friend ‘Barking’ Eddie could not get his computer to play music; for no logical reason, he blamed the sound card. Eddie was not happy when his newly purchased sound card fared no better, and tore his hair out when his 10-year old nephew spotted that the real problem was that Eddie had put the speaker lead in the microphone socket.
My next troubleshooting method is to check Microsoft’s built-in Volume Control Settings: make sure that ‘All devices currently playing sound’.
Right-click your Windows 8 sound device, for example headphones, click on the ‘Sound’ tab and ‘Test’ the audio settings.
Ok, I admit it, if you have got this far then I am wrong; the probability now is that the fault is with the sound card’s driver. Let us troubleshoot the audio device driver:
- Call for the Device Manager
(Control Panel, System and Security, System: See top left menu.)
- Scroll down to ‘Sound’
- Seek the ‘Driver’ tab.
- Don’t be fooled with: ‘This device is working properly’. Sometimes even Windows 8 lies!
- Experts tell you to ‘Update driver’ at this point. However, as with all driver problems, I have had more success with technique of: ‘Uninstall’, then ‘Reinstall’. In the case of sound cards, after uninstalling I right-click at the root of the device manager and select: ‘Scan for hardware changes’ and then install the device the troubleshooter offers.
Disabled Audio Device
Observe the device manager carefully, could it be that your sound card has been disabled? Right-click the Audio Device and select enable, if there is no ‘Enable’ on the short cut menu, then your device is already enabled. Another clue that your Audio device is disabled is the down arrow, see screenshot above.
If there are no Sound devices, but there is an ‘Unknown device’ see if you can uninstall / reinstall its driver because that may just be your sound controller. Another good move is to research what sort of device you are dealing, try ‘Googling’ the name supplied in the ‘Details tab’.
No audio devices in the device manager is bad news, but it does point the finger of suspicion at the driver.
Perhaps it’s time to get out the aptly named screwdriver, after you remove the system’s metal case, try repositioning the sound card in a different slot. Also take the opportunity to get the name of the sound card so that you can Google its driver.
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Specific Windows 8 Driver Research
Research your computer / sound card driver at the manufacturer’s website. Google your sound card plus operating systems specifications, and then download the suggested Windows 8 (or Windows 7) driver.
Another strategy is to see how many other users have the same predicament, so register at a forum such as Superuser.com. Hopefully one of the posts will have a resolution to your Windows 8 sound problem. If not post details of your situation, I bet someone will answer within 24 hours.
Error 1293 is an obscure problem caused by the ‘Local Service’ not having the User Rights Assignment to ‘Create global objects’. This bug is likely to be restricted to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and will be fixed in the final RTM version.
The solution to Audio service error 1293 begins with launching gpedit.msc (Remember that .msc). Navigate to:
- Computer Configuration, Security Settings, Local Policies, User Rights Assignments.
- Add Local Service to the ‘Create global objects’ group policy. (See screenshot above.)
- Restart your Windows 8 computer.
- Check that the Windows Audio service is running.
- An alternative is to run this command:
secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\inf\defltbase.inf /db defltbase.sdb /verbose
- Again, restart your machine.
- Has your Windows 8 laptop ever produced sound?
- When was the last time your computer played a DVD?
- What has changed on your system recently?
- Check the event logs, especially the Windows –> Application log.
- Try the Windows 8 built-in Troubleshooters
Search for ‘Fix audio’. See screenshot.
- Remember that a reboot cures 33% of all known computer problems!
Summary of Windows 8 Sound Problems
Microsoft has perfected plug-and-play in Windows 8,. Furthermore, Windows 7 drivers generally work with Windows 8, thus it’s my theory that if your computer is not producing sound there is a simple explanation. Therefore my advice is to go back to basics before you chase down another device driver, or install a new sound card.
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