Computer audio output devices usually come pre-built into a laptop or desktop
computer. What, if any, software is required for them depends on the
device itself. Many devices do not require software but many require drivers
An audio output device is an internal or external sound card, or similar device, that is connected to a computer system.
Most of these are "plug and play," which means that they do not require
additional software. In some cases, listening devices such as speakers
or headsets may be referred to as output devices but these take their
signal from the sound card and are not directly controlled by software.
In some cases it may be necessary to select an audio output device. In
the Windows Control Panel or the Macintosh System Preferences, an audio
panel will allow users to choose the audio output device they would
like to use. This is especially common where there are multiple output
In most cases no special software is required for an audio output
device. Some devices do have software available that is meant to
enhance the output signal and some devices require the installation,
and sometimes updating, of drivers to function properly. The website of
the device manufacturer will usually have up to date information on
How to Enable an Audio Output Device
There are several places where a speaker may have been disabled in Windows 7 and BIOS.
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you received the error message stating "no audio output device is
enabled" or "no audio output device is installed," the problem could be
simply that the device is temporarily disabled. There is a multitude of
reasons that a device could have been disabled. The installation of an
unrelated program could have caused the problem, or someone might have
accidentally clicked something to disable it. To enable the audio
output, there are a few places you can check.
on your Windows Taskbar, next to the system clock, for a small speaker
icon. Right-click this icon and select "Playback devices." Look for
"Speakers" under the "Playback" tab. If you do not see this,
right-click the body of the window and click "Show disabled devices."
This will add a check mark next to the text, which signifies disabled
devices are being shown. Right-click the "Speakers" icon, or whatever
audio output device you are using, and click "Enable." If "Speakers" is
already present and has a green check next to it, Windows already has
your audio playback software, such as Windows Media Player, and look
for a mute button. Usually, there is a speaker icon with a slash
through it, if the program is muted. Click the icon to enable sound.
Reboot your system and enter into BIOS or setup. The method varies between computers,
but try continuously pressing "Delete," "F1," "F2," "F8," "F10" or
"Esc" while the system is booting up. You will eventually enter the
setup. Look for a tab which says "Hardware," "Devices" or
"Enable/Disable." Locate your sound card, which may be integrated into
the motherboard or installed as a separate card, and enable it. Do this
by navigating with your arrow keys until it is highlighted, pressing
"Enter" and selecting "Enable." Press "F10" to save and exit BIOS.
How to Repair an Intermittent Audio Device
Exclusive mode can even prevent the operating system from playing back system sounds.
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7 allows applications to take exclusive control of an audio device.
When enabled, Windows 7 will playback sound in only one application,
rendering other applications unable to output sound through the audio
device. Sound playback may appear intermittent -- sometimes working,
and sometimes not -- when in reality the audio device is playing back
sound correctly and consistently based on its settings. Disabling
exclusive mode will restore audio playback abilities to all of the
applications on your computer.
the Windows logo located on the left-hand side of the taskbar. Click
"Control Panel." Type "sound" into the search box. Select "Sound" from
Select your playback device from the options on the "General' tab. Click "Properties."
Click "Advanced." Uncheck "Allow Applications to Take Exclusive Control of this Device." Click "OK." Click "OK" again.
Tips & Warnings
connections can also cause audio to play back intermittently. Confirm
your speakers or headphones are plugged in securely to the correct
audio jacks on your computer. Check the wires for damage or fraying.
7 can cause intermittent audio glitches when playing WAV files or
streaming content in Windows Media Player. Microsoft is currently
working to resolve this issue.