How to Fix Sound Keeps Cutting Out on Windows

Last Updated: November 16, 2023By
A Dell laptop open on a table displaying the Windows 10 start screen

Sound issues on a Windows computer can be frustrating and disruptive, especially when the audio intermittently cuts out. This common yet perplexing problem can turn a smooth computing experience into a jarring one, affecting everything from video calls to media consumption.

Fortunately, resolving these sound glitches is often within reach. 

Identifying the Problem

Sound issues on Windows computers can manifest in various forms, but intermittent audio cutouts present a unique challenge. Determining the nature of this problem is crucial for effective troubleshooting.

This part of the guide helps you identify whether the issue is rooted in hardware, software, or external factors.

Differentiating Between Hardware and Software Issues

Hardware Concerns: Hardware issues often result in consistent problems, such as static noise or no sound at all. If the sound cuts out across all applications, it might suggest a problem with the speakers, headphones, or audio ports.

Software Concerns: On the other hand, software issues tend to be more erratic. They might occur only in specific applications or under certain conditions, like during heavy system load or when multiple programs are running.

Recognizing External Influences

Sometimes, the problem isn’t directly related to the computer’s internal hardware or software. External influences, such as electromagnetic interference affecting wireless audio devices, can also cause sound to cut out.

Identifying these factors is essential for troubleshooting.

Assessing the Frequency and Pattern of the Issue

Paying close attention to when and how often the audio cuts out can provide valuable clues. Does it happen only during certain activities, like gaming or streaming videos? Noting these patterns can help pinpoint the underlying cause of the problem.

Basic Troubleshooting Steps

Before diving into complex solutions, addressing basic troubleshooting steps is essential. These initial actions can often resolve simple glitches causing sound cutouts.

Ensuring that the basic hardware and software settings are correct can save time and effort.

Checking Audio Cable and Hardware Connections

Inspect Connections: Ensure that audio cables, if used, are securely connected. Loose or damaged cables can intermittently disrupt sound. For wireless devices, verify that the connection is stable.

Testing Different Ports: Try plugging the audio device into different ports. A faulty port could be the reason for intermittent audio issues.

Verifying Sound Settings

Sound Levels: Check the sound settings to ensure the volume is not muted or too low. Sometimes, individual applications have separate volume controls which should also be checked.

Output Device Selection: In the sound settings, make sure the correct output device is selected. Windows can sometimes default to an unintended device, especially after updates or when new hardware is connected.

Restarting the Computer

Resolving Temporary Glitches: A simple restart can often resolve temporary software issues that might be causing the sound to cut out. This step refreshes the system and can clear up minor software conflicts.

Testing with Different Software

Isolating the Problem: If the issue is specific to one application, try using different software to play audio. This can help determine if the problem is with a specific application or a broader system issue.

Software and Driver Issues

Software and driver problems are common culprits behind audio issues in Windows. Ensuring that your system’s audio drivers are up-to-date and correctly configured is crucial for seamless sound playback.

This section covers how to address these software-related aspects to resolve sound cutouts.

Updating Sound Drivers

Automatic Updates: Use Windows Device Manager to check for the latest driver updates for your sound card or audio device. Windows can often find and install the necessary updates automatically.

Manufacturer’s Website: Sometimes, the most recent drivers are available directly from the device manufacturer’s website. Downloading drivers from there ensures you get the most compatible and up-to-date versions.

Reinstalling Sound Drivers

Removing Outdated Drivers: If updating doesn’t fix the issue, try uninstalling the sound driver and then rebooting the computer. Windows will attempt to reinstall the driver, which can sometimes resolve conflicts.

Manual Installation: For more persistent issues, manually downloading and installing the sound driver from the manufacturer’s website can be more effective.

Checking Windows Updates

System Updates: Apart from drivers, ensuring that your Windows operating system is up-to-date is also essential. Some updates include improvements or fixes that can resolve existing audio problems.

Adjusting Audio Settings

Sound Control Panel: Windows offers various settings in the Sound Control Panel that can affect audio performance. Adjusting these settings, such as the default format and bitrate, can sometimes enhance sound quality and stability.

Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

Microsoft Surface laptop on a wooden table

When basic troubleshooting and software updates don’t resolve the audio issues, it’s time to explore advanced techniques. These steps delve deeper into system settings and configurations, offering solutions for more complex problems that could be causing sound to cut out.

Utilizing Windows Troubleshooter

Running the Audio Troubleshooter: Windows provides a built-in troubleshooter specifically for resolving audio problems. Accessible through the Settings app, this tool can automatically identify and fix common sound issues.

Interpreting Troubleshooter Results: Understanding the feedback from the troubleshooter is key. It can provide insights into what the problem might be, even if it doesn’t fix the issue directly.

Disabling Audio Enhancements

Audio Processing Features: Some advanced audio processing features, while designed to improve sound quality, can introduce instability. Disabling these features can help stabilize audio playback.

Accessing Enhancement Settings: These settings are usually found in the Sound Control Panel, under the properties of the playback device.

Checking for Software Conflicts

Background Applications: Certain applications running in the background can interfere with audio playback. Identifying and closing these can sometimes resolve sound issues.

Device Conflicts: In Device Manager, look for any conflicts indicated by yellow exclamation marks. Resolving these conflicts can often improve overall system stability, including audio performance.

Exploring System Logs

Event Viewer: The Windows Event Viewer can provide clues about system issues that might be affecting audio. Look for warning or error messages around the times when the audio issues occur.

Analyzing Log Data: Understanding these logs can be complex, but they can offer valuable insights into deeper system problems that might be causing the audio to cut out.

External Factors and Interference

In some cases, the cause of sound issues in Windows may stem from external factors rather than the system itself. Interference from other devices or environmental factors can disrupt audio performance.

Understanding and mitigating these external influences can be key to resolving sound cutouts.

Impact of External Devices

Connected Peripherals: Other connected devices, such as USB peripherals or external hard drives, can sometimes conflict with audio hardware. Experimenting with disconnecting these devices can help identify any external sources of interference.

Wireless Device Interference: For wireless audio devices like Bluetooth headsets or speakers, interference from other wireless signals can cause disruptions. Ensuring minimal distance between the device and the computer, and reducing the number of active wireless devices, can improve stability.

Environmental Interferences

Electromagnetic Interference: Common household electronics, such as microwaves or wireless routers, can produce electromagnetic interference that affects audio devices, especially those that are wireless.

Physical Barriers: Physical obstructions can also impact wireless audio quality. Removing barriers or repositioning the computer and audio device can enhance signal strength and stability.

Checking for Wireless Interference

Bluetooth and WiFi Interference: Since both Bluetooth and WiFi can operate on similar frequencies, using them in close proximity can sometimes cause interference. Temporarily disabling WiFi on the computer can help determine if this is the issue.

Signal Strength and Quality: Assessing the signal strength and quality of wireless audio devices can provide insights into potential interference issues. Moving closer to the device or eliminating sources of interference can often improve audio performance.

By addressing these external factors and interference, users can often significantly improve their audio experience on Windows systems.


Resolving sound issues in Windows, particularly when audio intermittently cuts out, can be achieved through a systematic approach to troubleshooting. This guide has outlined a range of solutions, from basic checks of hardware connections and sound settings to more advanced techniques involving driver updates, system tools, and understanding external factors.

By methodically working through these steps, users can identify and address the root cause of their audio problems. Remember, the key is patience and attention to detail; sometimes, even small adjustments can make a significant difference.

Whether the issue lies within software configurations, driver incompatibilities, or external interferences, there’s often a solution at hand. With these insights and strategies, restoring seamless audio on a Windows system becomes a practical and achievable goal.