Article ID: 307918 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q307918
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This article describes how to troubleshoot common sound problems in Windows XP. This article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user.


You may experience any of the following symptoms on your Windows XP-based computer:
  • You do not hear sound from the computer's speakers or headphones.
  • A sound seems to be played, but you do not hear anything.
  • A sound is played, but it stops suddenly.
  • The sound skips or misses in some areas.
  • The sound is distorted or scratchy.
  • The computer stops responding when a sound is played.
  • The computer restarts when a sound is played.
  • You receive an error message when you try to play sound. Error messages could include the following:
    • MIDI output error detected.
    • No wave device that can play files in the current format is installed.
    • The CD Audio device is in use by another application.
    • WAV sound playback error detected.
    • Your audio hardware cannot play files like the current file.


This article presents three methods to help you resolve sound issues. Try the methods in the order in which they are presented. If one does not work, try the next. After you try each method, determine whether you can hear sound. To do this, play an audio file by using a program such as Windows Media Player.

Note Make sure that the output device (speakers or headphones) are plugged in and turned on. Also, make sure that the output device is not on mute and that the volume on the output device and on the program volume control is set high enough so that you can hear sound.

Method 1: Use the Windows XP Sound Troubleshooter

How to fix it automatically

To fix this problem automatically,  click the Run Now button. Then, follow the steps in the Fix It wizard.
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The Automatically diagnose and fix Windows audio playback problems troubleshooter may automatically fix the problem described in this article.
This troubleshooter fixes many problems.learn morerun now
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Note This wizard may be in English only. However, the automatic fix works for all language versions of Windows.

How to fix it manually

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Windows XP includes a troubleshooting program that can help you resolve your sound issues. Start the Windows XP Sound Troubleshooter automatically or manually, and then answer each question on-screen to try to find a resolution.

Step 1: Start the Sound Troubleshooter

If you are already familiar with Windows XP Help and Support Center, click the following link to start the Sound Troubleshooter:
Alternatively, start the Sound Troubleshooter manually. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Help and Support.
  2. Under Pick a Help Topic, click Fixing a problem.
  3. In the navigation pane on the left, click Games, sound, and video problems.
  4. In the topic pane, on the right side, click Sound Troubleshooter.
Step 2: Use the Sound Troubleshooter
  1. Click the option that describes the problem that is occurring, and then click Next.
  2. Repeat step 1 until your problem is resolved or until you have reached the end of the troubleshooting path.

    Note You can click Back at any time to repeat the last step, or you can click Start Over to start the Sound Troubleshooter again.
Determine whether you can now hear sound. If you can hear sound, the issue is resolved. If you cannot hear sound, try method 2.
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Method 2: Update sound drivers

Out-of-date sound drivers may cause sound problems. Check whether an updated sound driver is available. You can use Microsoft Update to help you determine your current sound driver and if an update is available. Then contact the sound driver hardware or the computer manufacturer to request an updated sound driver.

To find out whether applicable driver updates are available, visit the following Microsoft Windows Update website: If the sound driver is out-of-date, follow these steps to find the name and provider of your sound driver:
  1. Click Start and then click Run.
  2. Type dxdiag in the Open box, and then click OK.
  3. Click the Sound tab.
  4. Under Device, look for Name, and under Driver, look for Provider.
  5. Click Exit.
Contact the manufacturer of the sound driver to request an updated sound driver.

For information about your hardware manufacturer, go to the following Microsoft website: Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

Method 3: Update your Media Player software

If the sound problem that you are experiencing occurs when you use a media player such as Microsoft Windows Media Player, try updating your media player software. To obtain the latest version of the Windows Media Player, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Note The latest version working on Windows XP is Windows Media Player 11.
Determine whether you can now hear sound. If you can hear sound, the issue is resolved.

Method 4: Try another sound device

If possible, plug a different output device into the computer. For example, if you have been using speakers, try a different pair of speakers or a set of headphones to make sure that the problem is not related to the device itself.

Determine whether you can hear sound. If you can hear sound, there is a problem with the original output device and the issue is resolved.


If these methods did not work for you, you can use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions to your problem. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web sites provide include the following:
  • No sound in Windows: This tutorial is designed to help you identify and fix common sound problems in Windows.
  • Searchable Knowledge Base: Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Microsoft Product Support Newsgroups: Contact counterparts, peers, and Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs).
  • Other Support Options: Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have sound problems, you might want to contact Support:

More information

For more information about how to troubleshoot sound issues in Windows XP, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
279819 ISA non-plug and play sound cards are not detected
306317 Troubleshooting playback in Windows Media Player for Windows XP
236396 Windows Media Player cannot play back the audio stream
812394 How to troubleshoot sound-related issues in Microsoft games


Article ID: 307918 - Last Review: August 1, 2013 - Revision: 22.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
kbresolve kbenv kbinfo kbtshoot kbsound kbmatsfixme kbcip KB307918

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