Error message when you try to play a video file that contains audio in Windows Media Player: "Cannot play back the audio stream: no audio hardware is available"

Symptoms

When you try to play a video file that contains audio in Windows Media Player, you may receive one of the following error messages:

  • Cannot play back the audio stream: no audio hardware is available (Error=40258)
  • Cannot play back the audio stream: no audio hardware is available, or the hardware is not responding (Error= 80040256)

Cause

This issue may occur if either of the following conditions is true:

  • Your computer does not have a sound card, or your sound card is not working correctly.
  • Another program is currently using your sound card, so it is not available for Windows Media Player to use.

    Note This cause is specific to Microsoft Windows NT-based or Microsoft Windows 95-based computers.
  • The hardware acceleration is set to too high.

Resolution

To resolve this issue, use the appropriate method.


No sound card is installed

Method 1: Install sound card

If you do not have a sound card installed, obtain and install one.

Method 2: Check the default devices

To do this in Windows XP, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Sound and Audio Devices, and then click Audio.
  3. Make sure that the default devices are listed here.
To do this in Windows Vista, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Sound, and then click Playback.
  3. Make sure that the default devices are listed here.

The sound card is not working correctly

Use one of the following methods.

Method 1: Test whether the sound is working correctly by using another program

Use another program different from Windows Media Player to see whether the sound card is working correctly. For example, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click Entertainment, and then click Sound Recorder.

Method 2: Test whether the sound card drivers are working correctly

To do this in Windows XP, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click System, click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  3. Under Sound, video and games controller, make sure that the sound card is listed.
  4. Right-click the sound card, and then click Update Driver to install the latest driver.
  5. Visit the Web site of the sound card manufacturer to determine whether a newer version of the driver is available to download.
To do this in Windows Vista, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click System, and then click Device Manager under Tasks.
  3. When you receive a prompt together with a User Account Control dialog box, click Continue.
  4. Under Sound, video and games controller, make sure that the sound card is listed.
  5. Right-click the sound card, and then click Update Driver Software to install the latest driver.
  6. Visit the Web site of the sound card manufacturer to determine whether a newer version of the driver is available to download.

Another program is using your sound card

If you have a sound card in your Windows NT-based or Windows 95-based computer, verify that no other programs that need your sound card are running. If such programs are running, exit those programs.


Hardware Acceleration Slider Is Set too High

If the Hardware acceleration slider is not set to None, move the Hardware acceleration slider to a notch closer to None.

To do this in Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices (or, in Classic View, click only Sound and Audio Devices).
  3. Click the Audio tab, and then click the Advanced button under Sound Playback.
  4. Click the Performance tab, and then move the Hardware acceleration slider to a notch closer to None.
  5. Click OK, and then click OK again.
  6. Click Yes if you are prompted to restart your computer.
To do this in Windows Millennium Edition and in Windows 2000, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Double-click Sounds and Multimedia.
  3. Click the Audio tab, and then click the Advanced button under Sound Playback.
  4. Click the Performance tab, and then move the Hardware acceleration slider to a notch closer to None.
  5. Click OK, and then click OK again.
  6. Click Yes if you are prompted to restart your computer.
To do this in Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Multimedia.
  2. Click the Audio tab, and then click the Advanced Properties button under Playback.
  3. Move the Hardware acceleration slider to a notch closer to None in the Performance section.
  4. Click OK, and then click OK again.
  5. Click Yes if you are prompted to restart your computer.
Note If you still have problems with Windows Media Player, you might want to ask someone for help or contact support. For information about how to contact support, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

More Information

To make sure that you have the latest information to troubleshoot issues with Microsoft Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista, Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP, Windows Media Player 10, and earlier versions of Windows Media Player, we recommend that you visit one of the following Microsoft Web sites.

Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista

For information about how to troubleshoot Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista issues, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP

For information about how to troubleshoot Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP issues, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

Windows Media Player 10

For information about how to troubleshoot Windows Media Player 10 issues, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

Earlier versions of Windows Media Player

For information about how to troubleshoot issues with earlier versions of Windows Media Player, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Properties

Article ID: 236396 - Last Review: Feb 12, 2014 - Revision: 1

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