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Fix PC Sound Problems

If the sound on your PC isn't working properly, don't suffer in silence. Let's reveals nine easy solutions to common audio problems.

I can't hear any sound from my PC

First, make sure your speakers are correctly connected to your computer, that they're switched on and that their volume isn't turned right down. Next, check the sound on your PC by clicking the speaker icon in your System Tray and making sure the volume isn't muted. Double-click the icon to open the Master Volume (in Windows XP) or left-click it and choose Mixer (in Windows 7 and Vista) to adjust the sound level of specific audio settings, such as your media player.

Also check that your sound card is working properly. Open Device Manager by going to Control Panel, System (in Windows XP) or 'System and Security' (in Windows 7 and Vista), then click the plus sign next to 'Sound, video and game controllers'. A yellow exclamation or question mark next to your sound card's name means you should visit the manufacturer's site to download the latest driver for the device, then right-click its name and choose 'Update driver'.

The sound from my speakers is distorted

This problem may be caused by an outdated audio driver (see advice in previous tip), so check if an update is available for your sound card.

Distortion can also occur if you have speaker effects called 'enhancements' turned on in Windows 7 or Vista. To disable enhancement s, go to Control Panel, 'Hardware and Sound' and click Sound. On the Playback tab, click Speakers, choose Properties, then click the Enhancements tab and select 'Disable all enhancement s'.

There's no sound when I play YouTube videos

If you're only experiencing audio problems when playing YouTube videos and other Flash content, Adobe Flash Player is probably to blame. Make sure you have the latest version of the plug-in installed by visiting Adobe's help page 'Check for Flash Player version'.

Next, try clearing your stored cookies and temporary internet files in case a corrupt download is the cause of the problem. A free clean-up tool such as CCleaner will perform this task for you, or you can delete the files through your browser history or privacy settings.

Finally, there's a Registry edit that may solve the issue. Launch the Registry Editor by going to Start and typing regedit (Start, Run in XP). Navigate to the key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Drivers32 and look for an entry on the right called 'wavemapper'. Double-click this and set the value data to 'msacm32.drv'. If the entry doesn't exist, right-click, choose New, String Value and create a value with that name and data.

Some videos on my PC don't have any sound

This is likely to be a codec problem. Codecs are used to encode and decode the digital data streams in media files. If you don't have the right one installed, Windows won't be able to play certain songs and videos. To solve the problem, you just need to download a pack that contains the most commonly used codecs. The best of these is K-Lite Codec Pack, which offers several free versions, including Basic, Standard and Full, depending on how many features you need. Associate the codecs with your default media player during installation or use Media Player Classic, which comes with the pack and you shouldn't have any further playback problems.

My MP3s are either too quiet or too loud

Most digital music libraries contain songs from a variety of sources, which can lead to loud volume jumps and quiet dips between t racks. You can solve this problem in iTunes by going to Edit, Preferences, Playback and selecting Sound Check. This feature will adjust the volume of all the songs in your collection, and any new t racks you add, to roughly the same level, without changing the original audio files.

Alternatively, you can download the free tool MP3Gain, which makes equalizing sound levels incredibly easy. Add or drag files and folders to the software, set a target volume and click Track Gain to increase or decrease the tracks' decibel level.

My PC won't recognize my microphone

If you're using an external microphone, first c heck that it's plugged into the correct port on your PC (not the headphone socket) and that the sound isn't muted in the Master Volume or Mixer. Next, in Windows XP, go to Control Panel, 'Sounds and Audio Devices' and click the Audio tab. Make sure your microphone is selected as the default 'Sound recording' device, then click the Voice tab and do the same for the 'Voice recording' device.

In Windows 7 and Vista, go to Control Panel, 'Hardware and Sound', Sound, then click the Recording tab. Select the name of your microphone and click Set Default. Click the Properties button to adjust the recording volume.

I can't record the sound from a video file

There are several free programs that let you extract the audio from videos you watch online, download to your PC or play from DVDs. Our favorite is the wonder fully easy-to-use Freemake Video Converter. Simply paste the URL of a video into the program, select one from your hard disk or insert a DVD, and then choose 'to MP3' from the options along the bottom of the window. You can set the bit rate and export the audio files directly to iTunes. Just make sure you choose the option 'Parameters settings' when installing Freemake Video Converter to get the version without adverts and the Bing Bar tool bar.

Some of my MP3s won't play in iTunes

If your media player won't recognize an MP3, it may be because the audio file is corrupt. Fortunately, this problem can usually be fixed with the free program MP3 Repair Tool.

This works by removing audio frames of around 26 milliseconds from the beginning or end of the track, which is often the cause of the corruption. The software lets you repair multiple files at the same time, and claims to fix 87 per cent of unplayable MP3s.

I can't hear any sound through my headphones

First confirm that your headphones are properly plugged into your PC and the sound isn't muted. Then, in Windows XP, go to Control Panel, 'Sounds and Audio Devices', Volume and click the Advanced button in the 'Speaker settings' section. On the Speakers tab, choose 'Stereo headphones' from the drop-down menu and click Apply. In Windows 7 or Vista, try going to Control Panel, 'Hardware and Sound', Sound, then click the Playback tab. Right-click in the window, choose Show Disabled Devices and if your headphones appear in the list, right-click them and choose Enable. Right-click them again and select 'Set as Default Device'.