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by Ray DeCosta

Q. The sound on my computer just quit on me. How can I fix this problem?

A. Computer sound goes through many different groups of settings and controls before it eventually emerges from your speakers or headphones. Some of these trouble points are well-hidden from the casual computer user. As a result, it's very easy for sound to run into a dead end along the way.

Obviously, the first step is to see that all wires are plugged in properly and are in good condition. Pets can chew through wires or knock something loose while frolicking underneath your desk. Wires can also get caught under furniture where they may be cut in a non-obvious manner. Depending on their size, desktop speakers may need to be plugged into the wall AC circuit.

The next place to check is in Control Panel -- Sounds and Audio Devices. This section can be quite confusing in that there are many different settings here, only some of which will be pertinent to your "no sound" condition. It's best to check ALL settings in this area to make sure that Mute boxes which deal with sound output have not been checked inappropriately. Depending on your audio workflow, you may want some particular sources muted for your own convenience.

Also check to see if any appropriate sliders have been set to their lowest volume and crank them all the way up. Some of these changes can happen seemingly at random without your ever having mistakenly changed a setting.

If you still don't have sound coming from your computer, there is one more item to look for. Many computers, depending on their sound card, will also include an additional sound mixer somewhere along the line. This mixer may or may not work independently from the Windows sound system. While every computer is different, the best place to look for this feature is in the Control Panel (try to find a separate panel relating to sound settings) and in All Programs -- Accessories. You should look for terms such as "Sound Mixer", "Audio Effects" or a brand name such as "Audigy", "Creative" or "Xonar."

Published: Courier 2/2/14 - Page 3C