Thursday, July 2, 2015

Windows XP troubleshooting: No sound from the speakers

If your Windows XP computer suddenly stopped playing any sounds or music, there could be a number of different reasons.  This article will guide you through troubleshooting and fixing the problem.

First, check the Windows volume settings.  Windows XP has a master volume control that allows you to mute all sounds.  The volume may have gotten muted by accident, or maybe someone else muted it if you are using a shared computer.

If the volume icon is showing in the system tray on the right hand side of the taskbar (it looks like a round gray megaphone) you can tell right away if the volume is muted; there will be a small red circle with a line through it on the megaphone.  If you see this red circle, then your volume has been muted.  To restore sound, right click on this icon, select "Open Volume Control," and uncheck all of the boxes marked "Mute all" or "Mute."

If you don't see the volume icon in the system tray, you can get to the volume properties through the Control Panel.  Click on the Start button and then select Control Panel from the Start menu.  (If the Control Panel option isn't there, type "control" into the Run bar.)  In the Control Panel, double click on Sounds and Audio Devices, then in the window that appears uncheck the box marked "Mute" and click OK.

After ruling out the volume control, check the speakers.  Make sure your speakers are turned on and plugged in correctly -- check the audio wire that leads from the speakers to the audio out port on your computer, the wire that connects both speakers, and the power cable for the speakers (if applicable).  If your speakers have a light that comes on when they are turned on, make sure this light comes on.  Also check the speaker volume to make sure it's not turned down or muted.  If you have another computer (or another device) that you can plug the speakers into, try that to see if the speakers work with that device.  If so, you can rule out the speakers as the source of the problem.  If they don't work on the other device either, then you'll likely need a new set of speakers.

On many computers, there is a different port for the speakers and for headphones.  Plug in a pair of headphones and see if they play any sound.  If they do, it may be the audio out port that is bad.

If you are using a sound card in your computer that is not part of the motherboard, plug the speakers into the motherboard's audio out port.  If you get sound now, the sound card itself may be bad.  (You can check it in the Device Manager to see if it shows any problems, or if it somehow got disabled.)

If your computer is a desktop that has audio ports on both the front and the back, try plugging the speakers into the other port.  If they work from the back but not from the front, there may be a bad connection from the front port to the motherboard.

Once you've done all of these steps, if you still have no sound you can reasonably suspect the motherboard as the source of the problem.  Replacing a motherboard is expensive (and time-intensive, if you do it yourself) so rather than purchasing a whole new motherboard, you may want to consider buying a cheap sound card and installing that in your computer to handle speaker output.  It will likely be much cheaper and easier than replacing the motherboard.

(Originally published on, March 2012)

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