Do you rely on your PC for all of your video needs? Is it central to your music entertainment? Then you and I are in the same boat. Have you also experienced sound issues like out-of-sync audio and video, mono sound instead of the full surround sound experience, too low volume, or no sound at all? Luckily, I found three great ways to help fix many audio playback problems.
MatrixMixer was initially designed to upmix stereo sources to multiple speakers, but I’ve used it many times to troubleshoot audio playback issues. For example, on my laptop, DVDs played with no sound at all, yet MP3s and Windows sounds worked like normal. By just enabling the MatrixMixer filter, DVDs started playing as usual with surround sound.
If the volume of your movie is still too low (and all of the levels are cranked up both in Windows and in the media player application), MatrixMixer can get up to 20 dB more out of your sound card. Simply use the “Gains” column and gradually turn up the volume. Or, go to the “Gains” category to crank up individual sound channels.
If you’re suffering from out-of-sync audio, then head over to “Systems” and experiment with the “Audio/Video sync” slider. It may take a while for you to get the right timing, but in the end, you’ll be able to make sure that Star Trek’s Captain Kirk screams his famous “Khaaaaan!” when he’s supposed to—and not a second too early or too late!
As the author of MatrixMixer notes, these settings work fine on some sound cards, but not on all of them.
Shark007 codec pack
Still plagued by audio problems? Then, it’s time for my cure-it-all solution: Shark007, the codec pack for Windows 7. It’s designed to replace existing Windows 7 audio/video codecs and add all of the missing ones (e.g. the codec for FLAC playback). Here’s how it works:
Download the Windows 7 Codecs pack. (If you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows 7, you need to download and install the x64 components on top of the aforementioned pack.) Go to your start menu, head over to “All Programs” and run the “Settings Application” (or “Settings Application x64″). First, check the “Shark007 SUGGESTED settings”, restart your machine, and see if your audio problems still exist.
This recommendation sets the codecs and settings that are most commonly used and that tend to work for the broad masses. If that’s still not working, you should go to the “Audio” tab and play with the “set AC3Filter to use S/PDIF”. Also try the “use pass-through Digital Audio” settings if you’re using a digital coax cable (S/PDIF) to hook your PC up to your home stereo. In some cases, it may even help to “disable auto speaker configuration” and let the individual player do its audio work.
Depending on the video format you’re trying to watch (AVI, MKV, MP4, etc.), it might be helpful to jump into the different tabs in Shark007 and select different filters.
If the codecs and settings mentioned in the last tip didn’t work, then your next, and probably last, option to resolving this issue is to go to the Windows audio settings dialogue. It’s where all of your audio devices and outputs are listed (you probably have more than you might think!) and where all of their settings are located.
You’ll find it under “Control Panel”, “Hardware and Sound”, and “Sound”. Make sure that the sound chip your speakers or home stereo is connected to is set as the default playback device. For example, my external USB sound card has two outputs: one analog and one digital (SPDIF-Out). Since my home stereo is equipped with an SPDIF-Out, this is my preferred method. Still, by default, Windows chooses the regular analog output instead. The result? Some applications put their audio through to the SPDIF-Out jack, while others go with the analog output. If that’s the case, right-click on your preferred audio output or sound card, and choose “Set as Default Device”.
Here you’ll also find a small, hidden tweak that helps you avoid stuttering or other audio issues when running multiple audio applications (for example a game and TeamSpeak) at the same time. Stop these issues: Simply right-click on your device (as shown above), but choose “Properties” instead. Head on over to “Advanced” and uncheck both “Allow applications to take exclusive control over this device” and “Give exclusive mode applications priority”. Voilà! Your gaming issues should be resolved.
Still no luck?
I’ve tried three very different ways to cure audio woes. But, there’s so much more you can do—what about updating your sound drivers or changing settings in your media player application? Have you ever had any sound issues at all? Let us know how you resolved them!