What's wrong with my laptop speakers?
January 4, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

My laptop speakers aren't working, but the sound is fine with headphones. What does this mean and how can I fix it? A few details inside.

It's a 3 year old Gateway 17" laptop running Windows 7. If for some reason, you need more detailed specs, I can provide them. I've been watching a lot of video on it recently, always with headphones. A few days ago I tried to watch a YT video without headphones and the sound started coming and going. No crackling or static, just sound on and off. Since then, I haven't been able to get any sound to work on the speakers, but with headphones plugged in, it works fine.

I haven't done anything weird with my computer recently like new software or updates. Assuming this is a hardware problem (since the sound works), can I fix it myself and how?
posted by threeturtles to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
To me, the sound coming and going suggests a loose connection of some sort. There will be a small cable that connects the laptop speakers to the motherboard; it may have come loose or worn out somehow. You might be able to fix this yourself, depending on how easy it is to get the case off your laptop, and depending on whether it is just a loose connection or some other trickier problem.

It's also possible the internal speakers have somehow been disabled by the OS, but I can't see a scenario in which that happens and the sound goes in and out before they turn off.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:51 PM on January 4, 2011

Two additional things could have happened (aside from the OS disabling the sound) If it has a hardware mute button, and that button has been shorted (like of some kind of sticky fluid like Coke or Pepsi got under it) that could cause it, or the wires between the speakers and the mainboard could have come loose. If it's Coke behind the mute switch, the only effective thing you can really do is take the buttons out and carefully clean them. You could also work the button a little (press it in rapid succession a few times) to see if you can get even a little of the junk out from behind it. If the wires have come loose, you have to get under the keyboard to fix that. On some laptops it's brain surgery; on others no so much.
posted by brownrd at 8:22 PM on January 4, 2011

The switch in the headphone jack may be buggered. Poke around a bit with a toothpick.
posted by hortense at 8:45 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

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