Not a single beep will come out of your speakers without the proper audio driver installed. If you have audio issues, such as crackling music or games missing their sound effects, or if your Windows computer emits no sound at all, then it’s time to look at updating drivers. In this article, we show you how to update audio drivers both manually and automatically.
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The manual methods described below are quite involved. Expect to do lots of clicking and hunting for drivers or their INF files. Even geeks can get quite tired of that.
A much easier solution is to use driver updating software. Of course we’re partial to Avast Driver Updater, which scans your entire computer top to bottom, finds newer drivers for you, and -- if you wish -- keeps them updated automatically.
The tool checks for the most common brands, and works on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. Even better, you can try it for free.
Before diving into the more complex methods, let’s try the simplest route: Windows Update. Let your operating system get things in sync!Windows Update offers many official and certified drivers. While these usually aren’t the very latest drivers, they tend to be stable and should work well with your computer’s audio card or chip.
Both Windows 7 and 10 offer audio drivers via their built-in Windows Update utility. Here’s how to check for sound drivers using Windows Update:
Click on the Start menu and select Control Panel.
Click on System and Security and Windows Update.
Choose the Check for Updates link.
Wait for the results. Look for audio drivers either in the main view or under the Optional Updates category.
Click the Install button! That should be it.
Click on the Start button in the lower left and choose Settings.
Next, click on Windows Update & Security. You can check for updates here.
If any audio drivers are found, they will be installed automatically.
If Windows Update found files to update, and if you now hear music, you’re good to go. But if you still don’t hear sound, it’s likely that Windows Update couldn’t find the right driver.
In such circumstances, you’ll need to find them manually. That generally means you’ll have to hunt for sound drivers. Below we show you how to do this on Windows 7 and Windows 10 using Device Manager.
Right-click on Computer and select Properties. Click on Device Manager.
Go to Audio, Video and Game Controller and look for the name of your sound card. It might include one of the popular sound, video, or game controllers visible in the screenshot below, or it may have another name entirely:
If no drivers are detected, it might look like this:
Double-click on the name of your audio card. Then, switch over to the Driver tab. Next, click on Update Driver.
Select Search automatically for updated driver software. If that doesn’t find anything, repeat these steps and select Browse my computer for driver software.
Now, before you install driver software, you first need to download it. Jump to the “Where do I find audio drivers?” section of this article to learn how to hunt for those drivers.
Found the right file? Sometimes the driver doesn’t come with an installer. If that’s the case, then remember where you downloaded it (for example, your Downloads folder) and extract that folder. In the Update Driver Software dialog, choose Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.
Click Have Disk and then Browse. Navigate to the folder that contains the new driver. You need to look for a file ending in “.inf”. These files include all information necessary for updating drivers.
Click on Next to install the driver. A few seconds later, you should see something like this:
Click on the Start menu and type in Device Manager. Click on the Device Manager entry of the search results:
Search for Sound, video and game controllers. Windows will show you the hardware associated with your computer’s audio chip. If it’s not detected, you will see an entry that looks something like this:
Double-click on the audio entry and switch over to the Driver tab. From here, click on Update Driver.
Select Search automatically for updated driver software.
If the Windows search doesn’t find anything, return to Update Driver and select Browse my computer for driver software.
Now, before you install driver software, you first need to download it. Jump to the “Where do I find audio drivers?” section of this article to learn how to get those drivers.
The driver you download may come with an installer. If not, navigate to your Downloads directory and extract the driver file (it almost certainly ends in .inf). Then, from the Update Drivers dialog box, click on Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.
Click Have Disk and then Browse. Browse to the folder that contains the driver you just downloaded. These files include all information necessary for updating drivers.
Click Next to install the driver. In a few seconds, you should see something like this:
Success! Your audio drivers are now finally up-to-date.
If Windows can’t find any audio drivers, you’ll need to hunt for them yourself. There are a few ways to get your hands on the latest sound drivers:
To find out who made the audio chip in your computer, use the Device Manager method described above. Among the most common manufacturers are Realtek, Creative Labs, Intel HD Graphics and Audio, AMD (High Definition Audio Device), or NVIDIA (High Definition Audio Device) -- though of course there are quite a few more. Each manufacturer will at least provide basic drivers that work with their audio hardware.
Once you’ve identified the manufacturer, visit their website, where it should be possible for you to find and download the driver. You may have to search their support pages, but since this is a common request, it usually is easy to find.
For example, let’s say you have a Creative Labs sound card. Visit https://support.creative.com/ and select your sound card to download its latest drivers.Note that the audio chip often is part of the graphics card. As a result, as weird as it sounds, you might need to download new graphics drivers to get audio drivers. That’s not a bad thing, because it means that both components are up-to-date.
Chances are that your PC is made by a well-known manufacturer such as Dell, HP, or Lenovo. The manufacturer knows which audio hardware is included in each model, which means it may be easiest to find drivers for your audio chip on their websites.
For example, if you have a Dell desktop PC, you can visit Dell’s website to look for the exact model you own. Then, you can get the appropriate drivers, which have typically been tested on the exact same hardware as yours.Look for the Audio section. It’s easy to find an audio driver:
No matter where you get the drivers, you’ll end up either with a setup program, which installs drivers automatically, or with an archive file. This archive needs to be extracted using a program like WinRAR before the driver can be installed using the Device Manager method described above.
If your sound is working perfectly, there’s little urgency to update your audio drivers. But updating drivers can help you in a few situations:
No sound: If you turn on your computer for the first time and hear no sound, or if your speakers suddenly stop producing sound, this could mean the driver is missing, defective, or out of date.
Crackling/drop-outs: If sound cuts out while you’re watching a movie on Netflix, or when you’re playing a game like GTA V, Minecraft, or PUBG, it might not be the fault of the movie or game, but an issue stemming from an outdated driver. In many cases, newer drivers fix the bugs that cause such interruptions.
To get more features: Sometimes, newer audio driver packages give you extra features. They might enable new sound effects or give you more control over your speakers, such as adding levels for rear audio speakers.
To enhance performance: Updating your sound drivers may improve performance in certain games or applications. However, if you’re looking to improve overall Windows system performance, you should check out these tips.
And once your audio drivers are in good shape, you might want to consider updating all your PC drivers.
Avast Driver Updater is the quickest, easiest way to update your Windows drivers without needing to go through a lengthy manual process. Give it a try!