Dave, I’m going a bit bonkers. Every time I try to play a CD or watch a DVD on my WinXP system in Windows Media Player, the sound fades out and I’m left without any audio track. I’ve tried jiggling my speaker cables, reseating my sound card, restarting Windows Media Player (or even my PC), and even sacrificing an old Abba CD to the Microsoft Gods, but nothing helps. How do I fix this sort of sound device problems?
First off, sacrificing an Abba CD is always a good idea whenever you have any problems with Windows Media Player! In fact, even when you don’t have any problems… (I’m kidding, I actually like the perpetually perky Swedish foursome)
As you suspected from your attempted fixes, it really sounds like Windows Media Player doesn’t like your sound card or controller.
I checked at the Microsoft tech support site and here’s what they suggest as ways to fix this frustrating problem:
- Make sure that a sound device is installed on your computer; if one isn’t, just install one. In most cases, Windows will automatically detect the new hardware and install the necessary software drivers. If Windows does not automatically install the software drivers, run the Add Hardware Wizard to install them yourself (click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Add Hardware).
- Another program is using the sound device, and preventing the Player from accessing it. Close all other programs so that the Player is the only program running, and then try to play the file again.
- The software drivers for your sound device may be missing or corrupted. Try reinstalling the most recent software drivers for your sound device by scanning for updates on the Windows Update Web site or by going to your sound device manufacturer’s Web site.
- The Player may be using a version of Microsoft DirectX that is incompatible with the hardware features on your sound device. (This may explain why you can hear sound when you use some software programs, but not when you use the Player.) Install the most current version of DirectX by going to the DirectX Web page.
If you’re still hosed, then run the Sound Device Troubleshooter by choosing Tools -> Options within Windows Media Player, then click “Speakers” on the Devices tab, then click Advanced (still with me?) then choose the Hardware tab and choose Troubleshooting after you’ve selected your own particular hardware.
Still no joy? Check out the Web site for the manufacturer of your sound device, perhaps they have some tech note that’ll help clarify things? Or, failing that, pull out your sound card or other third-party device and see if things work without it. I’ve had that problem myself with an eMachines unit…
Want to read more about this? Microsoft has lots of troubleshooting information on Windows Media Player at the Windows Media Player Help Center.