Computer speakers do not work

This document contains information on what to do you if you are not getting any sound out of you computer speakers. These sections should be followed in order because they are written in such a manner that you may identify your issue through the process of elimination.

Volume issues

Speaker volume knobsDesktop 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. Almost every pair of speakers with knobs will increase the volume by turning it left to right, otherwise known as clockwise.

Laptop speakers turned down

Laptop mute buttonIf you are using a laptop computer with no external speakers connected, make sure the volume is turned up by using controls on the keyboard. They may buttons (as shown in the image to the right), or a secondary function of another key; generally indicated with blue text and activated by holding the Fn key at the same time.

Make sure volume in the software is also turned up.

An important aspect of sound on a computer with external speakers, is that it is primarily controlled by software. For example, if the volume is lowered or off in the software settings, it doesn't matter how high the knobs on your 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

Mute symbolAnother common mistake is for users to accidentally press the mute key on their keyboard. To check if mute is turned on, look in the lower right-hand side of your desktop screen for a symbol resembling a speaker with a "no" sign (shown right).

Speakers are not connected properly

Laptop computers

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

External desktop speakers

Line out on the back of sound cardSound devices connected to the computer have different cables and therefore use different ports. First, check that your speaker cable is properly connected to the sound card on the back of the computer. As seen in the picture to the right, the sound card has multiple jacks. Speakers must be plugged into the Line Out connector, which usually indicated by an image of sound waves with an arrow pointing out. The jack itself is usually green in color. If your speakers connect through USB, simply plug them into any of the USB ports.

Tip: Even if your speakers have worked in the past, still check the connection since it is not uncommon for cables to be pulled out of place.

Ensure the power cable is connected 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. One you've turned the speakers on (usually by using a button or by moving the volume knob from left to right), check to see if the light is illuminated. If no LED is present, 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.

Sound card does not work

Like any other hardware component in a computer, the device producing sound can fail. Make sure the computer sound card works properly by connecting either another pair of speakers or a pair of headphones.

Note: Do not test the sound through a game or other program, see if a CD or a sound file works. A program or game may have its own sound related problems that do not relate to a sound card.

If another pair of speakers or headphones also doesn't work, your sound card is likely experiencing issues. See our Missing or lost sound in Windows document for troubleshooting help.

Windows speaker setup

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

  1. Open Control Panel
  2. Select Hardware and sound in the window that appears.
  3. Under Sound click Manage audio devices.
  4. Under the Playback tab, select your speakers and click the Configure button.
  5. If after you've configured and tested your speakers they still don't work, double click them to bring up Speaker Properties.
  6. Verify all settings and then Test under the Advanced tab.
  7. After all changes, click Apply then OK in each of the appropriate windows before closing them.

Bad hardware

Finally, if none of the previous recommendations fix your problem, but connecting a different pair of speakers or set of headphones did work, the speakers are bad. It is recommended that you contact the manufacturer of the speakers or computer for a new replacement if your are still in warranty.

Additional information