Fixing the ‘No Playback Devices’ or ‘No audio devices are installed’ Issue in Your Windows

Fix & Repair Solved issue

Question asked by:

Karin I.

Issue:

No playback devices available (although installed)

Hello there!

Windows Audio tells me there are 'No Playback Devices'—talk about a disappointment. Even though both speakers and my headphones are connected.
If you've faced this issue and know a fix,

I'd love your advice!
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Probably as a student, business professional, or even stay-at-home parent, the odds are that you use your PC to listen to music videos and virtual meetings. 

However, at some stage in your Windows laptop or desktop computer user’s life, you may have faced a surprising and annoying problem – the ‘no playback devices’ message. Even though you have some headphones or speakers connected.

This issue can be disruptive to your audio experience and affect the ability to do things efficiently on your device.
Fortunately, there are some effective ways to fix this common problem and enhance your overall audio performance.
In this guide, we’ll dig into real-life advice and solutions so you can get your sound back on track effortlessly.

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No Playback Devices Issue

4 Common Reasons Why “No audio devices are installed” Appears?

The “No playback devices” or “No audio devices installed” error in Windows often occurs due to several common reasons:

  1. Outdated Drivers1: The current version of Windows may not properly work its audio drivers if they have been produced by previous releases.
  2. Incorrect Audio Settings: This is due to the lack of recognition by the system with incorrect settings when it comes to audio configurations and playback devices.
  3. Hardware Issues: This problem may be caused by issues with the hardware itself in terms of audio, such as detached or faulty speakers or headphones.
  4. Windows Updates Affecting Audio: There might be cases when the audio drivers or settings do not work well with Windows updates recently installed.

Note: these issues might also cause audio equalization errors. We have a fix for loudness equalization / audio equalizer here. Make sure to check it out if you experience that as well.

These are the main issues that need to be addressed during problem-solving on this error.
And now we’ll take a look at some of them!

TL;DR: Quick and Easy Fixes to Solve Missing Audio/Playback Devices in Windows

To effectively tackle the “No Playback Devices” issue in Windows, here are some expanded easy fixes:

1. Restart the Computer: Restarting the system by reboot will reset any of those conditions, and temporarily resolve conflicts and errors that can affect audio devices. What seems like a complicated issue sometimes can be resolved through this fundamental step in troubleshooting.

2. Check and Reconnect Audio Devices: Inspect your audio connections. Common culprits include loose or improper connections.
Disconnect and reattach your speakers or earphones, ensuring they fit snugly and properly into the correct port. Sometimes this simple action can solve audio problems.

3. Run Windows Troubleshooter: Use the Windows Troubleshooter for audio problems. This tool automatically detects and rectifies various types of common sound issues.
To do so, open Settings > Update & Security> Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters> Playing Audio and run the tool. It’s a good way to let Windows work out the problem-resolving issue.

4. Update Windows: Compatibility issues with audio drivers can result from outdated Windows versions. So, checking for and installing Windows updates regularly can prevent or resolve these issues.
Go to Settings > Update & Security> Windows Update, and choose ‘Check for updates’. Thus, installing the latest updates contributes to better Windows stability and general operation of a system including playing audio.

6 Expert Techniques to Fix ‘No Playback Devices’ Error in Windows (Implementation Time: ~10-20 mins)

Here are some advanced ways you can try to implement in order to solve the missing playback devices issue.

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#1: Updating Audio Drivers Manually

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  • Open “Device Manager”.
Right-click Start button and select Device Manager
  • Expand “Sound video and game controllers”, right-click the audio device, and click on “Update driver“.
  • Select “Browse my computer for driver software” then the option is “Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer”.
Update Driver for Sound
Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer
  • In the left pane, pick “Microsoft”, uncheck the “Show compatible hardware” checkbox, and then select “High Definition Audio Device”.
Select High Definition Audio Device

Resolving playback issues usually requires updating drivers and sometimes involves a switch to generic ones such as the High Definition Audio Device when specific ones turn out problematic.

#2: Rolling Back Drivers

To roll back drivers in Windows:

  • Open the “Windows+S” to bring up your search bar, locate “Device Manager”.
Type device manager
  • Locate and right-click on the not listed in the playback device, and land pick “Properties”.
  • For the toolbar at “Properties”, go into its driver tab and choose to “Roll back driver”.
  • Select a reason for rolling back the drivers, and click on “Yes”.
  • Restart your computer to make sure that changes become effective.

#3: Restart the Audio Service

The Windows Audio service can be restarted by doing this:

  • Click on ‘Windows’, and press the ‘R’ key to open “Run”, type in “services.msc” then ‘Enter’ it You can also perform this by pressing ‘Windows+R’ together.
Type services.msc
  • Right-click on the service, “Windows Audio”, and select “Properties” from the menu.
  • Click “Stop”, followed by “OK”, after choosing “Disabled” under the “Startup” type.
  • Restart your computer, open the “Windows Audio” properties again, and select “Automatic” in the “Startup” type statements then press “Start” followed by “OK”.

Restarting the Windows Audio service in case there are no sound devices identified within a Windows OS can often cause this problem rectified.

#4: Modifying the Registry

To adjust Registry settings for audio devices:

  • Press ‘Windows+R’, type “regedit”.
Type regedit
  • Paste the following path in the address bar and hit ‘Enter’:
    Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations
  • Double-click the “ConsoleSecurity” DWORD.
  • Compare and readjust the items with those of a healthy PC, and save the changes.
ConsoleSecurity DWORD

#5: Uninstalling Problematic Windows Updates

This is only needed to be performed if the error started appearing straight after updating Windows.

To uninstall recent Windows updates:

  • Press ‘Windows + I’ to open “Settings”, and scroll down “Update & Security”.
Choose Update & Security
  • Based on the “Windows Update” tab, click “View update history”.
  • Choose “Uninstall updates”. Uninstall the update that started from the error.
  • Uninstall the system and restart your PC to update it.
Uninstall Update for Microsoft Windows

#6 Displaying Hidden Devices and Installing Other Audio Drivers

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Many users said that they solved the problem by installing High Definition Audio Device driver instead of such drivers as IDT High Definition Sound or Realtek; et cetera. Their sound quality is rather similar. The only control panel that you will notice to be lost is by Realtek; otherwise, nothing of functionality will be lost.

Firstly, download the driver you HAVEN’T used up until now:
Download High Definition Audio Device driver here.
Download IDT High Definition Sound driver here.
Download Realtek* High Definition Audio Driver (most users use this so it might not be the 1st choice).

  • Now open Windows + X open the quick start menu and then choose “Device Manager” from all of the selectable items in the above processes.
Right-click Start button and select Device Manager
  • Go to the “Views” tab and select “Show hidden devices” from the drop-down menu.
Show hidden devices in Device Manager
  • With the “Device Manager” on, open the “Sound video and game controllers” category.
  • Go to the sound device of your computer by right-clicking on it. You will find an option and prompt whether you want these drivers installed automatically or manually, select “Browse my computer for driver software”.
  • Lastly, just select the driver you weren’t using up until now.
Update Driver for Sound

Final Words

We at WindowsGuided have thoroughly tested each solution provided in this guide to address Windows’s “No Playback Devices” issue.
We sincerely hope that these methods have been effective for you. If you’re still facing challenges, remember that professional support is always a viable option.

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If your Playback devices errors are still not fixed — feel free to reach out to us via email and share your problem.

  1. What is an audio driver? — via Reddit.com []
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About the author
Ross Zilbert - Expert Author

Ross is an avid author on WindowsGuided.com. He’s been working in the field of software and networks as a technician for more than 6 years.

Now he’s sharing his expertise and awesome guides with the broad public.