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No Computer Sound

Today's computer equipped with a sound card is capable of generating sound from many different sound and music format files. Formats include WAV, MIDI, MP3, and many more.

Conversion of these sound format files to actual audio relies on several layers of software and hardware. The most basic sound format file compatible with the Windows operating system is the WAV file format. Before troubleshooting any of the more complex formats, make sure that your system is capable of playing WAV files.

The Windows operating system has a built-in program called Sound Recorder to record and play WAV files. To open Sound Recorder, select Start | Programs | Accessories | Entertainment and click on Sound Recorder. In the Sound Recorder program, select File | Open. In the Open dialog box, navigate to C:\Windows\Media and select one of the WAV files to play. Click the Open button and then the Play button (right arrow).

If you hear the WAV file play, then your basic sound configuration is working properly. If you did not hear the WAV file play, continue reading (troubleshooting problems with the more complex sound file formats will be covered in future article).

The first thing you should do is eliminate the obvious possibilities. Many speakers have a volume control on one of the speakers. Many times I have thought that the sound was not working in one of my programs, only to find that someone turned the volume control all the way down.

You can test your speakers by plugging them into the headphone jack on your CD-ROM drive and playing a music CD. This bypasses the sound card.

Check the Windows Volume Control by right-clicking on the speaker icon in the Task Bar and Selecting "Open Volume Contols" in the popup menu that appears.

Open the Multimedia utility in Control Panel (Start | Settings | Control Panel) and select the Audio tab. Make sure that your soundcardís Playback device is selected in the Playback section.

If that looks correct, open the System utility in Control Panel and select the Device Manager tab. In Device Manager, open the Sound video and game controllers branch. Click on the name of your sound card to select it, then click on the Properties button. In the Sound Card Properties dialog box, select the General tab and verify that Disable in this hardware profile is not checked. Select the Driver tab and make sure that a driver is selected. Click on the Resources tab and make sure there is no conflicts.

Resource conflicts related to sound cards are usually caused by sharing an IRQ (Interrupt Request). The default setting for a sound card is usually IRQ 5. The sound card should not share an IRQ with any other device.

If you canít determine the reason why the sound card does not work, or you canít solve a resource conflict, you may need to uninstall and re-install the sound card.

To uninstall the sound card, open the Add/Remove Programs utility in Control Panel. Scroll through the list of installed software and select any programs related to your sound card. Click on the Add/Remove button to uninstall the program.

Open the System utility in Control Panel and select the Device Manager tab. In Device Manager open the Sound video and game controllers branch. Click on the name of your sound card and then click on the Remove button.

After removing the sound card's software and drivers, turn off the computer and physically remove the sound card. I like to restart the computer without the sound card to make sure Windows plug-an-play canít find any of the software components of the sound card. Then turn off the computer and re-install the sound card in a different slot. You may have to switch slots with another card.

If your computer can play WAV files, then that verifies that your sound card has been installed properly and your speakers are working. Playing more complex sound file formats like MIDI or MP3 requires more layers of software. We will cover how to troubleshoot those in future articles.

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