ComputerBill's Computer Repair

Orange Park: (904)

Sound system failure has a number of possible causes because there are a couple of components to check. I usually start by dividing the problem in half, i.e., try to determine whether the problem exists between the sound output jack on the back of the computer and the speakers or whether the problem exists between the sound output jack and the "inside" of the computer.

A set of earphones used on the portable radio/tape/CD players can be plugged into the back of the computer to check the speakers. Just replace the speaker connection with the connection to the earphones, select Start->Settings->Control Panel->Sounds, highlight the name of a sound with a yellow speaker icon to the left of it and select the black triangle to play that sound. Note that if the triangle is gray instead of black or if you hear no sound and you are certain that the plug has not been accidentally inserted into the wrong jack (the microphone input jack is notorious for not outputting sound) the problem is with the sound card so see the information below. If you can hear the sound through the earphones the trouble is with the speakers and or speaker cables. If your speakers are powered, a light should be illuminated on the front of a speaker. If the light is not illuminated make sure that the speaker is turned on and the volume control is high enough. You may be running off battery power or off household AC current through a small transformer plugged into the wall. For the former, try replacing the batteries and for the latter try plugging the transformer into a different wall outlet. If this fails to correct the problem you probably need to replace the speakers.

Problems with the sound card can be caused by either software or hardware. To check the software begin by looking at the volume setting which is often called up by double clicking on the yellow speaker icon on the bottom of the screen. Make sure no one has accidentally checked the "Mute all" box. If this is ok get back to the desktop, right-click on "My Computer" select "Properties" and "Device Manager". Scroll down to "Sound, Video and Game Controllers", click on the "+" to the left and find the audio device listing. Click once on the sound card and select the "Properties" button on the lower left of the window. Information listed under "Device status" can give a clue to what is going on. If the message recommends loading the drivers do this with either the drivers provided with the sound card or, better, by first downloading the most recent drivers from the web site of the sound card manufacturer. If the message indicates that the device is not present, not working properly, or has a problem click on the "Resources" tab to see if any conflicts exist. If a conflict exists see the Glossery for further information.

If your problem has not been covered please e-mail specific questions to me at

ComputerBill's Computer Repair. All rights reserved. Last reviewed: 21 June 2001