A sound card is an expansion port for computers that transmits input and output audio signals. When a sound card is about to die on your laptop, you will notice it immediately. Typical audio playback quality will be affected, and audio might disappear altogether. For laptops, this is an especially troublesome event because you will not want to open your laptop to try and replace the card yourself.
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Some users will find that while playing music a crackling noise becomes evident. This noise will persist for a few seconds then stop, starting up again randomly. This noise can be a sign that your sound card is failing, but you should check for other potential causes first. If you are using headphones or speakers, see if the crackling noise comes out of them all or just a specific one. Also, check the audio format. It is possible that the crackling is limited to a particular format and that you need to update drivers.
Sudden changes in volume, or volume completely cutting out then coming back, can mean that your sound card is no longer properly configured with your software or that it is failing. Many sound issues occur when the sound card does not responding to volume control commands issued from software or hardware. In this case, it may just be that you need to update your software and download new sound card drivers. However, an older sound card might need replacement.
Sound card failure rarely begins with no sound at all. If you are unable to get sound, you may need to update drivers or check the connection settings for your hardware. First, be sure the volume controls are properly working. If you are unable to get any audio output at all, it is possible that your sound card is no longer receiving audio signals from the software.
If input and output audio devices such as speakers, headphones or microphones are no longer registering or recording properly, your sound card might be failing. Sometimes there will be a faint noise, a hiss or static sound, that you can hear while using these devices. If they are all in working order but do not play back sound from the computer, the sound card connectors have likely gone bad.
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