My work Dell Latitude laptop thinks my speakers are headphones
April 11, 2017 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I have it plugged into a Dell docking station and it believes that anything plugged into it are headphones. I suspect this is why vocals in music files all sound muffled regardless of what I use for playback.

I have a 2.1 speaker setup but I can't configure that because Windows doesn't allow you to for headphones. Is there anyway to have this recognized correctly or am I stuck?

Dell Latitude E6440, Win 7 64-bit Enterprise SP1, W142 REV 2 Realtek High Definition Audio w/Dell Audio
posted by tommasz to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So you've got a powered satellite / subwoofer thing, that has a 1/8" TRRS connector (aka, headphone jack)? You shouldn't need to do any configuration for the 2.1 aspect of it - they've got a crossover that routes the bass to the subwoofer and everything else to the satellites.

You should be able to drive the speakers okay from the headphone jack. But you might need to turn down the volume on the computer some and turn it up on the speakers, or something. If that's not working, something is weird.

(I'm assuming you've already verified that the laptop sounds fine with actual headphones, and the speakers sound fine with some other input source)
posted by aubilenon at 10:47 AM on April 11

If the vocals sound muffled, it seems like maybe Windows thinks you have a surround sound system (with a center speaker). Did you check "Configure" in the Sound settings? (There's both "Properties" and "Configure"; confusingly, they're separate things.)

I'd also double-check any sound configuration apps that came with the laptop -- lots of times those have settings you can't access with the stock Windows config stuff.

"Headphones" is an appropriate setting. You don't need to tell Windows you have a 2.1 setup. Set "large" speakers if that's an option or else your bass might get redirected to the center/sub jack (orange), which you won't have plugged in.

(Also, make sure you're using the right jack -- it should be the lime green jack, which is left/right channels, and NOT black, which is the surround channels.)
posted by neckro23 at 11:13 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]

Do the speakers sound fine using another audio source? Does the laptop's output sound fine on headphones?
posted by gregr at 11:27 AM on April 11

The speakers are fine with other sound sources and the laptop sounds fine with headphones.

I've tried lowering the PC volume and raising the speaker volume and that didn't seem to make a significant difference.

I can't use the Windows Sound control panel to Configure the headphones, it's grayed out. However, I can use the Dell Audio control panel to set the headphone size and it was already on Large.
posted by tommasz at 12:37 PM on April 11

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