Windows 10 sound volume is low: SOLVED

I like Windows 10, although as with any new operating system, it’s going to be glitchy until lots of bugs are patched through Windows Update. As operating systems mature, they tend to become pretty solid (think Windows XP SP2). One of the key annoyances for me is that the sound volume is very low even when it’s set to 100 and with external speakers plugged in. I know these speakers can go quite loud, yet they’ve been frustratingly quiet.

I had to try a lot of different tricks before I found what worked for my computer, so I’ll walk you through what *should* work, including what actually worked for me. All of the screenshots in this post can be enlarged for clearer viewing by clicking on them.

Throughout the various steps, you’ll want to test if what you’ve just changed has had any effect (hopefully a positive one). To test this out, I’ve chosen the music video for Magnets by Disclosure, featuring Lorde. My neighbours have probably heard random segments of this song at different volume levels throughout the day.

 

Before we get started

Check for any Windows Updates in case this problem has already been properly fixed for your setup (Windows [Start] button > Settings > Update & Security > Check for updates [or restart to install any that are pending]).

If that didn’t solve the problem, check that your sound card drivers are up-to-date.

Device Manager 01

  • In the search bar on the bottom left of your screen, type ‘Device Manager’. Click on the top option for it. The Device Manager will then come up, which will look something like the below, although the options within it will be different for each computer.

Device Manager 02

  • Expand the section for ‘Sound, video and game controllers’ by clicking the ‘>‘ symbol to the left of this.
  • You may have one or more options in here, and again, may be completely different to the options displayed from my PC.
  • Starting from the top of the expanded options, and in the case of the above, ‘Conexant SmartAudio HD’, right click it and select ‘Update Driver Software…’.
  • On the screen that comes up which asks ‘How do you want to search for driver software?’, select ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’ (assuming you are connected to the Internet). Windows will then try and find a newer driver and install it if available.
  • Repeat this step for any additional items under the ‘Sound, video and game controllers’ sub-menu. In this case, you would then perform the same staps on ‘NVIDIA Virtual Audio (Wave Extensible) (WDM)’.
  • Once you have completed these steps, you may close the Device Manager.

 

Lets get started.

Win10-Sound-01

  • Right click the Speakers icon in the system tray (bottom right corner, near the clock).
  • Select Playback devices.

 

Win10-Sound-02-Comms-dn

  • Select the Communications tab up the top.
    By default ‘when windows detects communications activity’ is set to ‘Reduce the volume of other sounds by 80%’.
  • Change this to ‘Do nothing’.
  • Press OK.

Side note: To explain the purpose of this feature in Windows, if you were to receive a call on Skype or some other Voice over IP (VoIP) system, Windows will lower the volume of other sounds such as music or from videos by 80% (or other selected value) so that you can hear your caller. Some communications programs have reportedly triggered this feature by mistake, always lowering your volume. If you disable this by selecting ‘Do nothing’, this feature will obviously no longer work. Your choice. You could also troubleshoot the problem from within any communications programs you are running.

At this point the problem SHOULD be fixed. restart or refresh the YouTube video and test if out. Did it work? If so, great! If not, read on. You still have a few more tricks up your sleeve.

Repeat the first step from above:

  • Right click the Speakers icon in the system tray (bottom right corner, near the clock).
  • Select Playback devices.

Win10-Sound-03-pb-sp-prop

  • This time from the Playback tab up the top.
  • Double click on Speakers from the main list (or highlight it and press Properties).

Win10-Sound-04-sp-adv-untickexcl

  • Press the Advanced tab at the top.
  • Untick the box for ‘Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device’.
  • Press OK.
  • Test out your music video (or other audio source) to see if it’s fixed.

Side note: This setting does exactly what it says – allows a program to take complete control of your speakers and do whatever it wants with them, potentially causing unexpected results. By deselecting this feature you are denying any programs from taking exclusive control, allowing your settings to take precedence over anything else.

Did this work? No…? Continue on then. The following steps are what finally worked for me.

Win10-Sound-03-pb-sp-prop

  • Right click the Speakers icon in the system tray (bottom right corner, near the clock).
  • Select Playback devices.
  • On the Sounds screen, again select the Playback tab at the top.
  • Double click on Speakers from the main list (or highlight it and press Properties).
  • Select the Advanced tab on the screen that comes up (pictured below)

Speaker Properties - Advanced - Format

In my case, my sample rate and bit depth is set by default to ’24 bit, 48000 Hz (Studio Quality)’. As it turns out, that was what was causing my problem.

  • Try moving your Default Format setting up or down a notch. Basically, the higher the number, the higher the quality (i.e. 24 bit is better than 16 bit, and 48000 Hz is better than 44100 Hz.
  • For each change you make, windows will alert you that:

Device is being used - Audio

  • Select ‘Yes’.
  • Switch back to your YouTube video (or other audio source) and refresh the browser window. If you don’t refresh the browser you will not hear ANY audio at all.
  • Press play and test if your sound levels can go any louder that before.
  • You may need to try a few different settings before you find what works for your PC.

If you really wanted to, you could go back and set Windows to ‘Reduce the volume of other sounds by 80%’ when it detects communication activity, but I prefer to handle that manually.

Hopefully this post helps with your Windows 10 volume issue. If not, I’m all out of tricks. Good luck!

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2 responses to “Windows 10 sound volume is low: SOLVED

  1. Still does not work. Tests of the speakers independently sound very good, but it does not change anything. The sound seems to come from the center, instead of the speakers

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