Whenever you update to the latest version of Windows 10, you'll find cool new features and fixes. Unfortunately, major updates can introduce new issues, and some of the most common ones affect audio. Because of these issues, people may not be able to play videos, use certain apps, or hear nothing through their speakers at all.
This isn't fun, especially if you are familiar with the new features of the operating system. So let's do some troubleshooting. Here are the ways you can fix Windows 10 audio problems to get rid of the dreaded sound of silence.
Run the audio troubleshooter
Windows 10 now has a full audio troubleshooter that you can use to examine your sound system for signs of problems and recommend solutions. Because this troubleshooter can automatically find and fix some of the issues discussed below, this is a great time-saver and should probably be your first stop.
Step 1: Use the search box on your system tray and look for "troubleshooting". You should see an option in the results labeled Troubleshooting Settings. Choose this.
step 2: In the windows that follow, in the Get Up and Run section, find and select the Play Audio option. Then select Run Troubleshooter.
step 3: A new troubleshooting icon will open in your system tray. Select it to open the new window. You now have the option to troubleshoot different types of connected speakers, including built-in speakers and headphones. In most cases, you'll want to choose your default speakers, but you can customize them to suit your device. Select Next when you're done.
Step 4: Run the troubleshooter and then see what it has to say. The troubleshooter may offer advice on how to improve your sound quality or identify problems with your drivers that need fixing. Try what it suggests to see if that helps fix your problem!
Check the volume controls and make sure your system is completely updated
So far, the 2020 updates for Windows 10 have caused a variety of sound issues including audio that just doesn't work and third-party app audio that is too low to be used properly.
If any of your recent Windows updates caused sound problems like these, the first thing to do is check your volume mixer and see if anything has changed. Take a look at your system tray and you should see a speaker icon on the right. Right click on it and select "Open Volume Mixer". Check your sliders, especially third-party apps, and make sure they look normal. Some of the sliders may have been set particularly low and need to be adjusted to correct the volume.
Unfortunately, other current sound issues have proven more difficult to troubleshoot. If you have a systematic volume bug due to a recent update, even rolling back those updates has rarely proven itself successful in fixing sound issues. The best thing to do is to check for new updates and apply them quickly so you know when Microsoft is fixing the problem.
Check your output device
If you have no sound at all, it can be so simple that Windows is trying to play sound on an old device, e.g. For example, some headphones that you forgot to be plugged in, or a Bluetooth speaker that is not turned on. To make sure Windows is trying to send sound to the correct device, you need to check your output.
Step 1: Click the little up arrow in the lower right corner of your screen next to the clock and calendar.
Step 2: Right click on the small speaker icon and select Open Sound Settings.
Step 3: In the Settings menu, look for the top entry that says Choose your output device. Use the drop-down menu to make sure your correct device is selected, whether it's your speakers or connected headphones. During your stay, check that the volume is not zero.
Update your sound card drivers
One of the most common causes of sound problems is poor communication between Windows 10 and the sound card or chip of your choice. This often results in your sound not working at all. Fortunately, there are ways to make Windows 10 and your sound hardware compatible. All you need to do is find the right updates for the job.
Step 1: Open the Start menu and search for "Device Manager". Click on the appropriate result.
Step 2: A list of icon options appears in Device Manager. Choose Sound, Video, and Game Controllers. If you have a sound card, it will be shown there.
Step 3: Open the sound card by double-clicking it. Then go to the Driver tab and look for the option to update the driver. This will start an automatic Windows search to find and download driver updates.
Step 4: Once the update is complete, restart and see if your audio is working now.
There are a few additional points to note here.
- Windows doesn't always find the right audio drivers. If the search doesn't work, visit your sound card manufacturer's website and check your sound card for a manual method of downloading the appropriate updates.
- Your driver may just need a kick in the bytes. If the update doesn't work, open Device Manager, locate your sound card again and right click on the icon. Choose Uninstall. This will remove your driver, but don't panic. Restart your computer and Windows will try to reinstall the driver. If you allow this, you may find that your sound is back on.
Restart Audio Services
Is your standard audio refusing to work at all, or are there serious setup issues that can't be fixed? The main problem could be problems with Windows running certain services. Here's how to quickly restart these processes.
Step 1: Search for "Services" in the search field and select the Services app.
step 2: The new window shows a long list of services under Windows 10. Scroll down to find Windows Audio specifically. Right click Windows Audio and choose Restart from the options available.
step 3: After the restart is complete, run the services again. Do the same for Windows Audio Endpoint Builder and Remote Procedure Call. Restarting these three together can help fix any issues your audio may have encountered.
Use a generic HD audio device driver
If working on your sound card software doesn't affect it, you should try switching to the generic audio driver that Windows 10 offers. This can often work around compatibility issues and restore the sound capabilities of Windows activities.
Step 1: Open Device Manager again and find your audio driver as if you were updating it.
Step 2: Right click the driver and choose Update Driver.
Step 3: This time, however, instead of letting Windows search for it automatically, choose to automatically scan Windows for driver software.
Step 4: Then select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer. A list of high resolution audio devices is displayed. This is the generic Windows 10 driver. Select it and install it to see if that restores your sound.
Fixed Cortana and microphone issues
The Cortana singing assistant integrated in Windows 10 can only receive all possible commands via language. However, this is not a good thing if your audio is not working properly. If Cortana isn't responding to you as hoped, there may be a problem with your microphone – or it's missing.
First, make sure your computer has a microphone so that Cortana can hear you. A microphone is a standard feature on many of today's laptops and desktops but cannot be guaranteed. Without a built-in microphone, you'll need to use your microphone jack and an external device instead. These are the best headsets with built-in microphones that you can buy right now.
If you have a microphone, let's double-check that your Cortana settings are correct.
Step 1: Open Cortana by clicking the appropriate icon in your Windows search bar and then selecting the Settings Gear icon in the lower left corner.
Step 2: This gives you a number of toggle options that you can use to control what the voice assistant can do. Make sure that Cortana is enabled to wait for Hey Cortana commands. If she's not listening, your voice commands won't work.
If you have a microphone and Cortana's settings are fine but the Smart Assistant still doesn't seem to hear you, then you should check your recording device settings.
Step 1: To do this, click the up arrow in the lower right corner of your screen next to Clock and Date.
Step 2: Right-click the audio icon (it looks like a speaker with sound waves) and select Open Sound Settings.
Step 3: In the Input section of the Settings page, make sure the microphone you selected is selected.
Step 4: Check the volume settings by clicking Device Properties and going to the Layers tab. They should be set to at least 50, but anything from there up to 100 is fine.
Keep checking your updates
As with all modern operating systems, Windows 10 is constantly updated with new fixes and improvements – especially if you're part of the Insider program. While the solution is often a driver update, it doesn't always happen immediately. It may take some time before the correct update for your driver is displayed. Because of this, it is important to wait for it.
Some driver updates are included in general Windows 10 updates, others are available independently from creators such as Realtek. If your sound problem has still not been resolved, visit both your sound card manufacturer and the Windows update icon on a regular basis and check for the latest updates. If you see a new update it could be the solution to your problems. Otherwise, consider buying a new computer with compatible drivers – especially if your current computer is quickly becoming outdated.
Notice to users of Conexant and Synaptics audio drivers
Since the October 2020 update for Windows 10, Microsoft has determined that a fatal bug for users of Conexant or Synaptics audio drivers is resulting in shutdown and blue screen of death. Microsoft has updated Windows with a block that prevents devices with compromised speakers from downloading the new update. However, if you've already downloaded the update (often when your updates are set to automatic), you might encounter catastrophic crashes like these. If so, go to the Recovery section under Updates & Security in Windows 10 and roll back to an earlier version of Windows to fix this error! There is no up-to-date schedule for permanent correction.