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Avast Academy Performance Drivers How to Update Audio Drivers on a Windows PC

How to Update Audio Drivers on a Windows PC

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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Manually updating your audio drivers can be tedious, even for advanced computer users. To help guide you, we provide step-by-step instructions for several methods below. 

But before you go through these steps, first check that you haven’t accidentally muted your speakers. And then, consider automating the process.

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This article contains:

    How do I update my drivers automatically?

    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.

    Avast Driver updater screen

    Use Windows Update to update audio drivers

    Before diving into the more complex methods, let’s try the simplest route: Windows Update. Let your operating system get things in sync!Missing sound driverWindows 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:

    How to use Windows Update on Windows 7

    1. Click on the Start menu and select Control Panel.

    2. Click on System and Security and Windows Update.Windows Update in Control Panel

    3. Choose the Check for Updates link.

    4. Wait for the results. Look for audio drivers either in the main view or under the Optional Updates category.

    5. Click the Install button! That should be it.

    How to use Windows Update on Windows 10

    1. Click on the Start button in the lower left and choose Settings.Settings on your start menu

    2. Next, click on Windows Update & Security. You can check for updates here.

    3. If any audio drivers are found, they will be installed automatically.

    Update audio drivers using Device Manager

    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.

    Update audio drivers on Windows 7

    1. Right-click on Computer and select Properties. Click on Device Manager.

    2. 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:

      Device Manager showing audio driversIf no drivers are detected, it might look like this:

    Device manager showing missing drivers

    1. Double-click on the name of your audio card. Then, switch over to the Driver tab. Next, click on Update Driver.

    1. Select Search automatically for updated driver software. If that doesn’t find anything, repeat these steps and select Browse my computer for driver software.Updating drivers

    1. 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.

    1. 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.Updating drivers manually

    2. 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.

    1. Click on Next to install the driver. A few seconds later, you should see something like this:Successful driver update

    Update audio drivers on Windows 10

    1. Click on the Start menu and type in Device Manager. Click on the Device Manager entry of the search results:Opening Device Manager under Windows 10

    2. 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:Finding missing drivers on Windows 10

    3. Double-click on the audio entry and switch over to the Driver tab. From here, click on Update Driver.

    4. Select Search automatically for updated driver software.

    5. If the Windows search doesn’t find anything, return to Update Driver and select Browse my computer for driver software.Browse for audio drivers

    6. 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.

    7. 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.Searching for audio drivers in Windows 10

    8. 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.

    9. Click Next to install the driver. In a few seconds, you should see something like this:Update Drivers - Cirrus Logic

      Success! Your audio drivers are now finally up-to-date.

    Where do I find audio drivers?

    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:

    Look for drivers on the manufacturer’s website

    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.Update Soundblaster driversNote 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.

    Look for drivers on the PC manufacturer’s website

    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.Dell driver update pageLook for the Audio section. It’s easy to find an audio driver:Dell audio driver download

    Find drivers on a third-party site

    If the manufacturers’ websites don’t have new drivers, you can also look on third-party sites such as forums.laptopvideo2go.com or StationDrivers, which offer both unreleased and brand-new drivers.

    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.

    Why should I upgrade my sound drivers?

    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.

    Want to make updating drivers easy?

    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!

     

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