How to Fix Computer Speakers

Three Methods:General ChecksHeadphones Work, Speakers Don'tHeadphones Don't Work Either

Whoa! Who killed the music? If you are having problems with your computer speakers, you may be able to avoid costly repair charges with a little basic troubleshooting and some driver updates. We'll show you how.

Method 1
General Checks

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    Understand the system. To know how to troubleshoot speaker problems, it's a good idea to know how it all works, at least at a basic level.
    • Sound signals generated inside your computer are sent to the speaker port (usually green) on your computer.
    • You plug your speakers into that port, and the sound continues down the wire into the little amplifier built into the speakers. This is just like how your stereo is wired, only smaller!
    • The output of the amplifier is wired to the speakers.
    • Power from the wall enables the amplifier to boost the tiny signal coming from your computer into something strong enough to wiggle the magnets in the speakers, vibrating the speaker cone, which in turn vibrates the air, which vibrates your eardrums.
    • Any failure in that little chain of events will stop all that vibration from happening. No vibration = silence.
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    Plug headphones into the speaker port. This will tell you the one big thing right away: is your computer sending sound out of the port. If you hear sound, then everything inside the computer is hunky-dory, and your problem is with the speakers. If you don't hear sound, then don't worry about the speakers—find out what's wrong with your sound card.
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    Check obvious things.
    • Is the volume turned up or right down?
    • Are the speakers plugged in?

Method 2
Headphones Work, Speakers Don't

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    It's not your computer. Armed with that knowledge, let's look at troubleshooting speaker problems.
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    Make sure the speakers are plugged in. Yes, that seems obvious, but maybe the dog knocked the cable out while chasing the cat, or maybe your daughter's missing gerbil chewed through the speaker wire.
    • Check the power cord. If your speakers use a "wall wart" (that black box, the power adapter that plugs into the wall), check to see if it's warm. If so, it's probably working. If it's cool or room temperature, it may be that it has ceased working. This is common with wall warts, and replacements are not hard to find. Go to Radio Shack with your power adapter and cable and they'll be able to test it and recommend a replacement, warts and all.
    • Check the connectivity to the computer's speaker ports. This connection is usually made with thin wires connected to little plugs, and those little hummers are subject to wear and tear. Look especially around the joint between the plug and the wires, and see if the cable is split or torn. If you can see copper or silver, it's a good bet that is your problem. If you're handy with a soldering iron, it's an easy fix: cut off the old plug, get a matching one from Radio Shack (or your favorite electronics store), and solder the leads from the speakers to the new plug.
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    It still doesn't work? If you've got a good connection to the computer on one end, and have verified that there's power getting to the speakers on the other, than the last problem point in this chain is the speakers themselves. It's pretty hard to destroy speakers sealed in plastic cases, so there are two final points to check:
    • Open your speakers up, if you can, and make sure the wire leads coming from the amp are wired to the backs of the speakers. It might be that they took a tumble, and the wires came loose.
    • Check all the wires inside the speaker. Do they all appear to be secure? If you see solder joints (silver blobs on the wires where they connect), is the solder shiny and smooth, or dull and pebbly? If it's dull and pebbly, you may just have what's called a "cold solder joint," which doesn't conduct electricity very well.
    • If all looks well, and nothing is loose, then you're down to one source: the amplifier inside the speaker. If that's toast, you can try to have it repaired, but it's probably more cost-effective to recycle them, and go buy a new pair of speakers.

Method 3
Headphones Don't Work Either

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    It's Captain Obvious time again! Make sure the volume is turned up and that the output is enabled on your music playback software. I know it's like asking "is it plugged in," but very often, it's something that simple that's the root of the problem.
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    Try hooking up the speakers to another computer. If they work on a totally different computer, that's another way to verify that there's nothing wrong with the speakers themselves. Time to check the drivers!
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    On a PC, open Control Panel. From the Start menu, click Control Panel, then System and Security, and then under System, click Device Manager.
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    Double-click Sound, Video and Game Controllers. If a sound card is listed, your drivers are present. If your audio device drivers are not present, try installing the appropriate drivers. There are a few ways to do this.
    • Use Windows Update. Run Windows Update and have it download and install recommended updates. Doing so can update system features and other software that might help to fix your sound problems.
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    On a Mac, run Software Update... From the Apple menu, select Software update... It will check for updates on all system and built-in sound card software.
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    Install software from your sound card's manufacturer. For example, if your device came with a disc, that might have the software you need. Run the installer, and it will install or update your sound card driver.
    • Get the latest version from the Internet. Go to your speaker manufacturer's website, locate the driver there. Look under Drivers, Downloads, or Support—that's where they usually hide those things. Download the latest version, and install it.
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    Still not working? Troubleshoot. If you still have problems after all that, check any other sound port on your computer. If there are front ports and back ports, try the one you don't normally use.
    • Also check the sound card connection inside the computer, and make sure it's secure. Look for the same thing you looked for inside the speakers: loose wires, cold solder joints, or anything that looks out of place.
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    If that doesn't solve the problem, haul that beast down to you local repair store, and have them take a look at it, knowing you did everything you could do before you resorted to that. Good luck and happy listening!


  • If you're having problems with speakers emitting a static or crackling noise, it may be caused by a high-speed internet box or cell phone. Cell phones with GSM technology will also make regular chattering noises. Putting some distance between the speakers and the box or phone may help if this is the case.
  • In some cases, you will be receiving high amounts of static from the CD Player or Line In channels. This can be corrected simply by lowering the volume or muting these channels in Volume control. (Start>All programs>Accessories>Entertainment>Volume control)
  • If your sound card is built into the motherboard do not try to remove it. Your entire motherboard will be need to be replaced if the sound card is the problem. Another option in that case is to buy a separate sound card and install it.


  • Be sure to discharge static electricity from your body before opening up the CPU case. Static electricity can cause severe damage to your computer's inner parts.
  • Always make sure your computer is completely unplugged before opening the case.

Article Info

Categories: Hardware Maintenance and Repair