Troubleshooting Sound Problems
arrrggggg... computers are so nice when they work, and so frustrating when they don't.......
This is a very basic troubleshooting guide for those encountering problems listening to wma or mp3 sound files on this web site.
First, we'll start off with two common issues:
And then we'll move on to these specific issues:
Microsoft and Apple each have their own proprietary versions of sound file formats, often making it difficult for Mac and PC users to exchange sound files. Fortunately, Microsoft offers a free version of their Media Player components which allows Mac QuickTime to play Windows wma media files:
Many of the most common Windows sound problems are resolved simply by downloading the latest version of the Windows Media Player and/or Internet Explorer directly from Microsoft to use as a baseline test.
If you are using Microsoft Media Player, it may be useful to check for any recent updates. To do that, just start the Media Player (click the Windows Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player), click on "Help", then click on "Check for Player Updates..", and your media player will automatically download any updates.
Or, you can simply download the latest Microsoft Windows Media Player for PC for free from:
Also, since old versions of web browsers may have limitations or problems, check for any web browser updates, and upgrade to the latest version of your web browser. For Microsoft products, the current status of your software can be verified by the Windows Update web site at:
Detailed Troubleshooting Tips:
If you've never heard any sort of sound other than a beep from your computer, perhaps you need a computer service person to take a look and see what you need in order to play sound files.
If you have previously heard music played on your computer, then please carefully check the simple things first:
As another simple check, click the following link to play the a test wav file, and then go to the appropriate paragraphs depending on whether you do or do not hear the test wav file:
If you were not able to hear the test wav file:
Or, if you did hear the test wav file:
If you want to play the sound files instantly, or if you want to play them frequently, it may be best to save the files on your computer hard drive rather than repeatedly downloading them via the internet.
When the audio files are stored on your hard drive, you can play them instantly, without any download, and without even being on-line.
One way to save the audio files to your hard drive, is before downloading the file, you can point your mouse at the desired sound file on a web page, right click the mouse, and select "Save Target As...". In this manner, you can make your own collection of sound files that are stored on your own computer.
If you have already downloaded the audio file to your player, and want to save the file to your hard drive, many players offer a menu choice for saving the file. For example, in Windows Media Player, just click on File, then Save Media As.
Many of the older audio players have the annoying characteristic that they will often try to play the sound while it is still in the process of being downloaded. So, the sound plays for just a moment and then it stops for a moment while it downloads more of the sound file and then plays another tiny bit and stops again. This makes a very choppy, interrupted sound during the download. Very annoying.
After the first bit of audio starts you can hit the stop button (the square symbol) on the player to tell it to shut up until the file is completely downloaded. When the download is finally completed, you can hit the play button (the triangle symbol) and it should then play the complete file without any hesitations.
This annoyance has generally been solved with current versions of media players such as Winamp and Windows Media Player version 11.
You can get mp3 and wma players for free from many sources. Many of them are fine products, but some may cause problems.
If you are having any sort of sound problems in Windows, I recommend downloading the latest version of the Windows Media Player, directly from Microsoft to use as a baseline test. After you get everything working with Windows Media Player, then you can move on to testing other mp3 players.
If you are using Microsoft Windows and have sound player problems, you should download and install the latest version of the Windows Media Player. That is often the simplest way to resolve sound problems.
You can get the latest Microsoft Windows Media Player for PC for free from:
The Media Player has fully adjustable surround sound enhancements as well as a graphic equalizer, so you can easily customize the sound to suit you.
The most recent versions of the Windows Media Player has some really great features, such as:
For troubleshooting on Windows computers, using Microsoft's own Windows Media Player is the safest place to start. But, once you are successfully playing audio with Windows Media Player, you may also enjoy some specific features of other popular media players such as:
Windows has a number of audio-related controls and options that are all available by selecting "Sounds and Audio Devices" from the Windows Control Panel. (To open the audio controls, simply left click on Windows Start button, then choose Settings, next click Control Panel, and finally click on Sounds and Audio Devices.)
A new window should pop open.
There are five tabs available, and first we should check that there is a valid audio playback device selected.
Click on the Audio tab, and you should see something like this:
If you do not know for certain what sound devices are available on your computer, click the Default device pulldown arrow (which looks like ) and see what devices you have available.
Checking Audio Device status:
To check the operational status of any of your sound devices, click on the Hardware tab, and another window will pop open, looking something like:
Select the device that you want to know about (in the image above I've selected SB Audigy), and click the Properties button. Another window will pop open:
This popup window says that the SB Audigy device is working properly (so I'll leave it selected as my Default device... but if your Device status indicates any sort of problems, the problems must be fixed before that sound device will work properly.)
Click OK for each of the two Hardware popup windows, and return to the Default device selection window.
When you have selected the appropriate sound playback Default
device, then click OK to save your choice
Now, click on the first tab, which is called "Volume". At this point, you should see something like this:
(if you get an error message about missing sndvol32.exe, see
Microsoft's solution on their web site at:
in order to fix that problem before proceeding any further.)
There are two major sections to this window: Device Volume and
In the Device Volume section, make certain that the Mute box is not checked.
Then click on the Advanced... button. Another window should now pop open, looking something like this. (Your popup window may be somewhat different, depending upon the specific features of your computer's sound card. For example, some sound cards do not have balance controls on all the channels.)
First, make certain that this new window is called Playback Control and also make certain that you see a button labeled Advanced under the Playback heading, as shown above.
In order to see all of your sound card's available audio channels, click on Options, Properties, and then put check marks in all of the available Volume Controls, otherwise you may miss some important options.
Now, make certain that in the Playback Control window the slider volume controls for at least Playback and Wave are at least half way up. Then, make certain that the Mute All is not checked, and that the Mute under the Wave heading is not checked either. (Any control sliders that are all the way at the bottom will cut off the audio sound, and any Mute boxes that are checked will also cut off the audio.)
Similarly, make certain that the sliders are at least half way up, and not muted, for any other audio features that you want to be able to use.
With the sliders at least half way up, and the audio not muted,
you can exit that window (either click on the X in the upper right
corner, or choose Options, Exit).
In the Speaker Settings portion of the Sounds and Audio Devices window, click on Speaker Volume, and make certain that both channels are at least half-way. I like to set mine at full volume, as shown below:
Then click OK to close that window.
Then, in the Speaker Settings portion of the Sounds and Audio Devices window, click on the Advanced... button. A new window should pop open that looks something like this:
Note that there are two tabs, Speakers and Performance. First click on the Speakers tab, and make certain the choice of speakers matches the type of speakers you are using (in my case, I'm using desktop stereo speakers).
Then click on the Performance tab, and you should see something like this:
Click on Reset Defaults, and then click on OK.
That should return you to the Sounds and Audio Devices window. Click OK to save your changes (which will also close the Sounds and Audio Devices window).
In some cases it may be necessary to reboot the computer before your configuration changes will take effect. So, just to make certain that your computer is properly updated, go ahead and reboot your computer, then return to this page to test your results using the following audio links: