Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why don't my speakers work?


Leo, my PC is an XP. The sound is disappeared even though when I go into the
Control Panel, it says that sound is on and the arrows are up high. I’m

In this excerpt from
Answercast #95
I look at a case where speakers have suddenly stopped


Speakers don’t work

Well, you know, you certainly checked the software side of things. In other words:

  • You made sure that the output is set to the correct device, and it’s not muted;

  • That the volume settings are appropriate – in other words, not zero; they’re up high enough that you should be able to hear them if things are working.

Check the wires

You know what I always look at in a case like this? It’s going to sound really silly but it happens more often than you think.

Are the speakers still plugged in? By that I mean – is the cable from the speakers still plugged into your PC? Is the other end of that cable still properly plugged into the speakers?

You would be surprised at how often this happens (especially if you have pets) that a cable will just somehow, at some point, get yanked out and the speakers are simply not connected.

Speaker hardware

Now the other side of this, of course, is that the speakers could be broken. There could be a problem especially if you’re running through something other than simple speakers. If you’re running through some kind of device (maybe an amplifier, or some other kind of powered speaker situation) make sure that’s all working as well.

A quick way to tell, by the way, is to unplug your speakers from the computer and plug them into something else that provides output. It could be an mp3 player; it could be your phone; it doesn’t really matter.

That’s a quick way to test to make sure that the speakers themselves are actually working. My guess is speakers are working fine; computer’s are working fine; there’s just an unplugged connection between the two.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

11 comments on “Why don't my speakers work?”

  1. If your speakers work on a different system, and the wiring is correct, you might want to reverify that the operating system is indeed generating sounds. You can do this with a set of headphones. Plug in the headphones, and generate sounds (Go to Control Panel:Sound, select a sound

    Sometimes the OS thinks you have more than one sound output device, and sends the sounds to the wrong device. If you can’t get a test sound on speaker or headphones, then you need to
    Ask Leo how to fix that, if it is not obvious.

  2. Some speakers get power from a wall-wart or internal batteries. Check these. Make sure everything is plugged in and working. Or, as a last resort, ask a 12 year old.

  3. Have you brought up you Volume Mixer? Sometimes you will find that even though your speakers are cranked all the way up, one or more of you applications could be cranked all the way down. You can set the volume at different levels for (like John said) – different devices – but you can also set them to different levels for different Applications. Open the Volume Mixer and check that out. One way of opening the Mixer is by clicking on the window Start Icon – then typing “Adjust System Volume” in the [Search programs and files] area.

  4. Hmmm… my latest challenge is that when I view a video on YouTube, there is no sound from the headphones. But if I save the video, then play it back, the headphones work fine.

    It’s a mystery.

  5. My daughter’s computer had no sound on it. It took me some time to figure it out. I booted to Ubuntu from a live disk. There was sound. That made me suspect a missing driver. Since it was a Dell, I went to the Dell download site after identifying the exact sound card installed. Downloaded and installed the drivers and now had sound. Seems some two-legged creature had mucked it up.:-)

  6. Robin, see Dan’s “mixer” comments. Could be the volume for your browser is turned down or muted. (provided you don’t hear youtube sound through the speakers either).

  7. I had a situation where an application (Audacity) I was using changed the default playback device. Try right clicking on the speaker icon, select playback devices and make sure the correct device (speakers) is the default.

  8. As well as those other helpful suggestions, check the video monitor itself.

    If it has on-board speakers – it may also have Mute and Volume facilities locally on it.

  9. I lost my audio, but only on You Tube videos. Since the volume worked for everything else, I knew it wasn’t the speakers. The mute button on YouTube was checked. When I clicked on that little x to unmute it, the x would not go away. I pleaded with more computer savvy friends for months, but none of them could help, received no help from anyone on the You Tube site. Finally my son came over and fixed it in half a second. Turns out that there is a volume control bar on You Tube itself (in addition to the Mute buttons on both the computer and on YT, and the volume control bar on the computer. If that YT volume control bar is set all the way to the left (zero) the mute button stays on. Unfortuntely, that bar was below the bottom of my visual screen, so I never saw it and didn’t know (or remember) that it was there. It must have been visible at one time, since I had been able to hear YT videos in the past. :

  10. Hey, Jacqui !

    Is your son the 12-year-old Snert (above) recommended ?

    I did what you did – and Voila !

    Thank you. And thanks, too, to everyone else !

    Hey, Leo ! That includes you ! Even if you’re out of town ;-)


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.