Why do my speakers not work?

Volume issues

If you are experiencing problems with the volume of your computer's audio, following these steps may help you fix the problem.

Desktop speakers turned down

This step may seem trivial, but problem-solving works best when you start with the basics. Verify that the volume knob on the speakers is turned up enough to produce a sound. Every pair of speakers with knobs increases the volume by turning it left to right, otherwise known as clockwise.

Laptop speakers turned down

If you are using a laptop computer with no external speakers connected, make sure the volume is turned up with the controls on the keyboard. The volume controls may be buttons, or a secondary function of another key. To activate these keys hold the Fn key and the secondary function key at the same time.

Monitor speakers turned down

Some monitors have speakers built into them. You'll either need to use the buttons on the monitor, adjust the volume in the Windows settings, or use your keyboard. Since all monitor manufacturers have different buttons and controls, please consult the owner's manual for specific steps.

Make sure volume of the software is also turned up

An important aspect of sound on a computer with external speakers is that it's primarily controlled by software. For example, if the volume is lowered or off in the software settings, it won't matter how high the external speakers are turned up. The speakers won't produce sound. Therefore, users should verify the sound settings in the software are properly turned up.

Mute is on

Another common mistake is for the mute to be accidentally activated on the keyboard. To check if mute is turned on, look in the lower right side of the Taskbar for a symbol resembling a speaker with a "no" sign.

Speakers are not connected properly

Some audio problems may be caused by improperly connected speakers. To verify your speakers are connected correctly, follow these steps:

  • Laptop computers

If you are troubleshooting a laptop computer, skip this step since you cannot verify the laptop speaker connections.

  • External desktop speakers

Tip: Even if the speakers worked in the past, check the connection since it's not uncommon for cables to become loose or be pulled out of place.

Ensure the power cable connects to the back of the right speaker, or in some cases, the subwoofer. Most speakers have a small LED (light) indicating if the speaker is on or off. Once you've turned the speakers on (usually with a button or by moving the volume knob from left to right), look for a light. If no LED is visible, or the speakers still don't appear to be getting power, and you've checked the power connections, you may have a faulty power source.

Default playback device in Windows

If your computer has the Windows operating system, make sure the correct playback device is set as the default device for sound output. If the wrong playback device is set as the default device, the sound doesn't come out of the expected device (i.e., speakers or headphones).

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Click or double-click the Hardware and Sound or Sound icon.
  3. In Windows XP and older, click Manage audio devices under Sound.
  4. In the Sound window, on the Playback tab, find the entry for the speakers connected to your computer.
  5. Right-click the speaker's entry and select Set as Default Device.
  6. Click OK at the bottom of the Sound window to save the settings change.

Windows speaker setup

If you are running Microsoft Windows, make sure the speaker setup is correct by following the steps below.

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Select Hardware and sound or Sound in the Control Panel window.
  3. In Windows XP and older, click Manage audio devices under Sound.
  4. On the Playback tab, select your speakers, and click the Configure button.
  5. If the speakers still don't work after configuring and testing them, double-click the speakers on the Playback tab to bring up Speaker Properties.
  6. Verify all settings and then Test on the Advanced tab.
  7. After verifying all settings and making any changes, click Apply then OK in each of the appropriate windows before closing them.

Bad sound card

If the issue is not software related, it is likely a hardware issue. Like any other hardware component in a computer, the device producing sound can fail. Make sure the computer sound card works properly by connecting another pair of speakers or headphones to the computer.

Note: Do not test the sound through a game or another program. Instead, see if a CD or a sound file works. A program or game may have sound-related problems that don't relate to the sound card.

If another pair of speakers or headphones also don't work, your sound card is likely experiencing issues.

Bad speakers

Finally, if none of the recommendations above fix the problem, but connecting a different pair of speakers or headphones did work, the speakers are bad. We recommend you contact the manufacturer of the speakers or computer for a new replacement if they are still under warranty. Otherwise, you can buy a new pair of speakers and connect them to your computer.

Please create a ticket if the above information was not helpful or did not resolve the issue and our team will get back to your shortly.

See other articles in Helpdesk 101, Troubleshooting