I have Windows XP, SP3. Recently, voice audio (not music) comes out garbled
i.e. “You’ve Got Mail” and YouTube vocals. There’s no driver update. I guess
there is no sound card and instead, it uses Realtek High Definition Audio. In
troubleshooting this, I’ve wanted to uninstall the program and reinstall, but I
decided not to until I seek your advice. I’ve run my anti-virus program,
thinking it might be a virus. Nothing shows up. Even disabled it to test to see
if it was interfering but still the same. Any help you can give would be
In this excerpt from
Answercast #50, I look at a computer that is struggling as it plays audio.
It could be a driver or simply overloaded.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
You have a sound card!
Well, first of all, I do want to be very clear. You do have a sound card
because you have sound. A sound card (even though it may not necessarily be a
separate card) refers to the hardware in your computer – that is what gets
connected to your speaker. It’s the interface between your computer and
whatever it is that lets you hear sound.
So, you definitely have one:
And Realtek High Definition Audio is not a program – that is the
That’s actually the chipset that is used to generate the audio from your
Now, when you say there’s no driver update? I mean… the drivers would be
for this “Realtek audio” hardware. There may very well be drivers for it.
What I would suggest you do to begin with is to:
Go to the manufacturer’s website of whatever computer manufacturer you’ve
got this from;
And double-check them specifically for up-to-date drivers for this
Now, the other thing that can often interfere with sound and the ability to
produce it properly is in fact the other software running on your
Some computers simply are overloaded enough;
They’re trying to do so much at the same time;
That the sound card simply can’t keep up;
And very often, that manifests as a kind-of choppy sound.
That article will show you how to run Process Explorer and see if there’s a
program running at the time you are trying to play your audio that is
The computer itself
Now, if the audio program itself is using up all your CPU, then you may have
a problem where your computer just isn’t powerful enough anymore to do some
of the things that you’re trying to do.
You haven’t indicated exactly how old this machine is. Given that it’s
running Windows XP, it may be fairly old. New software, new drivers, new
versions of the operating system (including SP3) all have very slowly increased
in their requirements on hardware.
A machine that five years ago was running Windows XP just fine, may be
struggling right now, if the machine was marginal to begin with.
Steps to take
So, those are the things I would look at:
Go to the manufacturer’s website. Look for updated drivers there.
Check to see what other software is running on your machine at the time
you’re having this problem.
Use Process Explorer to see if one of those pieces of software may be
hogging the CPU and preventing the audio from playing smoothly.
Next from Answercast 50 – Chkdsk
is stuck after 48 hours. Is this a problem?