How can I get my laptop to recognize that it does, in fact, have an audio output device installed?
September 21, 2009 9:28 AM   Subscribe

How can I make my laptop (Toshiba Satellite U305-S5097, running Vista 32-bit Home Premium) and its Audio Output Device (Realtek High Definition Audio Driver) play nicely together again?

My laptop has been having a persistent, recurring issue with the Realtek audio driver. Periodically, the laptop starts up and a red "x" appears over the speaker symbol, and the message "No Audio Output Device Is Installed" appears when you float the cursor over it. No driver appears in the device manager, but the Realtek Driver still shows up in "Programs and Features." And I have no sound.

In the past, a restart has generally fixed the problem; I've also downloaded the most recent Realtek driver available from Toshiba and successfully reinstalled it, which has provided at least a temporary fix. For the past two days, however, nothing is working to fix this--I've uninstalled, reinstalled, tried a system restore, and it still won't recognize the driver. I've installed a driver directly from Realtek. I've unsuccessfully searched online for answers (other users seem to be having the same problem, but I haven't found solutions beyond what I've already tried). I've called Toshiba tech support, and their opinion was that it's a hardware problem and that I should pay them $35 to help me "dig deeper."

So I've now reached a level of frustration that has me writing my first AskMe question ever, and it doesn't even get to be about whether I should DTMFA, or eat something gross, or try to self-treat an amputated limb. I'm not sure whether to be a little bit sad or a little bit proud.

Has anyone had this issue and successfully fixed it? If so, how?
posted by paleography to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Just out of curiosity, does it happen reliably every time, or more randomly..? Many years ago I had a PC that had wonky problems like that in a random fashion, and quite by accident, I discovered that the problems didn't happen if I let the PC sit at the login screen for a couple minutes before logging on. I always chalked it up to thinking Windoze needed more time to initialize hardware, load drivers, and whatever else.
posted by Jinkeez at 3:09 PM on September 21, 2009

Ok, this is kind of dated (because this used to happen more in XP, and pre-XP), but you might as well give it a shot - boot into Safe Mode, and then take a look in the Device Manager to see if for some reason either 1) there are any other audio devices installed for some reason - (don't ask me why this might happen, but i have no idea what you may or may not have tried plugging into your computer ever, or what sw, and plug n Pray, as they used to call it, is not an exact science, still) 2) duplicate instances of your audio driver. If there are either of those, you can delete any instances you don't want. Should you reboot and find they reappear for some reason, you can also right-click on said unwanted device and "disable" it.

Finally, you could boot into the bios to make sure the audio device still shows as "active", and if you have the diagnostic disk for your system, you could see if it is able to make the audio card make noise - in which case it is likely (but not 100% necessarily) a Windows-only problem.
posted by bitterkitten at 3:20 PM on September 21, 2009

Response by poster: The Imp of the Laptop Perverse strikes again! After I posted the question, I went to a seminar, took it out of hibernation, and--of course!--the damned thing is working now. Jinkeez, it's random, as far as I can tell; I've been trying to figure out some kind of pattern but haven't hit upon anything yet. Bitterkitten, thanks for the suggestions! As soon as it happens again, I'll try the Safe Mode thing and then the bios thing, and then post back with an update.
posted by paleography at 5:46 PM on September 21, 2009

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