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How to Reset All Audio Settings in Windows

The audio settings in Windows automatically adjust with your app requirements and system updates. If you’re not getting the desired sound quality, or when there is no sound at all, you can reset your current audio settings to resolve the problem. Let’s find out all the different ways to reset your diverse audio settings in Windows.

Tip: want to improve the sound on your Windows PC? Try these tips to see if they’ll help.

1. Reset Sound Devices and Volumes for All Apps to Their Defaults

Whether you’re watching YouTube on Google Chrome or playing a game in Xbox, Windows has a universal fix for low and bad quality sounds that can be applied across multiple apps. It can be done through the Volume Mixer option.

Windows 11

  1. Open your Settings app from a start menu search or using the keyboard shortcut Windows + I.
  1. Click the “Sound” menu under “System.”
Click Sound menu in Settings System for Windows 11.
  1. Scroll down and click on the”Volume mixer” option.
Click Volume Mixer in Advanced System Sound in Windows 11.
  1. Click the “Reset” button under the “Apps” section.
Click Reset button in Volume Mixer for Windows 11.
  1. A check (or tick) symbol next to the reset button indicates that the sound devices and volumes for all of the apps have been set to their recommended defaults.
Check symbol next to Reset button in Windows 11 Volume Mixer.

Windows 10

Those who are running Windows 10 can access the “Volume Mixer” from Settings. It can also be opened as “Classic Volume Mixer” from the system tray.

  1. Right-click on the sound icon in the system tray and click “Open Volume Mixer.” A new pop-up window will open.
Click "Open Volume mixer"by right-clicking sound icon in Windows 10 System Tray.
  1. Alternatively, go to “System -> Sound -> Advanced Sound options -> App volume and device preferences.”
  1. You can drag and adjust the sliders for “Speakers,” “System Sounds,” and other options (if available) to their maximum comfort level.
Drag sliders for speakers and system sounds in Volume Mixer to their maximum in Windows 10.
  1. You may see a “Reset to the Microsoft Recommended defaults” option in more advanced versions of Windows 10.

Good to know: the ability to access a newer Volume mixer with enhanced functionalities is just one of the reasons to consider upgrading from Windows 10 to 11.

2. Reset Each Sound Device to Its Default Setting

For all of the different sound devices used in Windows, such as speakers, headphones, and external output devices, there is a corresponding default setting. Reset each of these devices separately.

  1. In Windows 11, go to “System -> Sound -> Advanced -> More Sound Settings.”
Click More Audio Settings under Advanced menu in Windows 11 Sound.
  1. If you’re running Windows 10, look for a Control Panel option called “Manage audio devices” via the search menu. It can also be accessed from “Settings -> System -> Sound.”
Reset Audio Devices Win Manage Audio Devices Search Windows10
  1. In both cases, a new pop-up window will be generated. Once it shows up, go to the “Playback” tab where you can modify the settings for each and every sound device in your PC.
  2. Double-click on the selected playback device (with a green checkmark) or select its properties using a right-click or the “Properties” button.
Double-click on Speakers under Playback tab in Sound (Windows 11).
  1. In the new pop-up window, navigate to its “Advanced” tab.
  2. Click the “Restore Defaults” button at the bottom of the window to reset the default sample rate, bit rate, audio enhancements, and hardware acceleration values. You can test them using the “Test” button.
Restore defaults in Speaker Properties under Advanced menu in Windows 11.

Note: if your audio device is already in a default configuration, the “Restore Defaults” button will be greyed out.

It should be mentioned that “Restore Defaults” isn’t the same as the Windows 11 “Reset” button. The latter not only resets the default sounds of your speakers but also the headphones and individual apps.

Tip: feeling nostalgic about the good old days? Here’s how to add Windows 95 (or any other) startup sound to Windows.

3. Reset Windows Audio Services

In both Windows 11 and 10, you can restart Windows Audio and other related services from the Windows Service Manager (Services app.) This resets the audio software to their default background configuration.

  1. Open the Services app from the Windows search menu or by typing services.msc in the Run window, which opens by pressing Win + R.
Reset Audio Settings Win Services App Administratior Windows11
  1. Scroll down the list to find the “Windows Audio” service. It will show its “Running” status.
  2. Right-click on the Windows Audio service and restart it.
Right-click on Windows Audio services to restart it.
  1. Windows will attempt to restart the Windows Audio service.
Windows Audio Service Control attempting to restart the service on local computer.
  1. Optional: you may also want to restart the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service. It manages the default endpoints for all the audio devices on your computer. Restarting this will also restart Windows Audio.
Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service restart along with Windows Audio.
  1. Other Microsof-recommended services to restart include the Remote Procedure Call (RPC), Waves Audio Services, and any third-party digital audio signal processing services.
Restarting Waves Audio services in Windows.

4. Reset Audio Drivers

In some cases, Windows audio problems can be traced to outdated sound drivers. The Device Manager is the right place to uninstall and reinstall a new set of drivers to replace the outdated ones.

  1. Search for “Device Manager” via the Windows search menu or type devmgmt.msc in the Run window.
Search for Device Manager in Windows search menu.
  1. Scroll down to the “Sound, video and game controllers” driver menu and select Realtek Audio or any other audio output drivers. (Don’t experiment with your device’s display audio drivers, such as Intel or AMD graphics.)
  2. Right-click to uninstall the sound driver device.
Right-click to uninstall sound driver in Windows Device Manager.
  1. You will get a warning message before you uninstall.
  2. Check “Attempt to remove the driver for this device.” It will be highlighted, allowing you to click the “Uninstall” button.
Warning message before attempting to uninstall sound driver in Windows 11.
  1. Restart your Windows device once the sound output driver is uninstalled. Windows will install a new sound driver as its replacement.
  2. If you find your output speaker disabled in the system tray and the audio drivers missing, you will need to reinstall them manually. Right-click on the sound driver to select “Update driver.”
Update sound drivers in Device Manager using a Right click.
  1. Choose “Search automatically for drivers.” Windows will look them up online and install them on your device.
Search automatically for sound drivers in Windows.
  1. If you don’t want to do any system changes related to your audio drivers, Windows Updates, and other configurations, you can reset your Windows to an earlier version using System Restore.

5. Reset Volume for All Devices

Sometimes we find a few of our Windows applications play at a lower volume compared to the others. For example, you may not get desired audio levels in your speakers, but the sound works just fine with headphones. The goal here is to reset the volume for all devices connected to audio output devices.

  1. In Windows 11, go to “Settings -> System -> Sound -> Output.”
  2. Click “Speakers” in the “Output” sub-menu.
Click Speakers in Sound for Windows 11 System.
  1. Change all of the output volume and frequencies to their maximum values. This includes the left and right channel outputs. 100 is the default output volume for all speaker devices.
Max volumes in speakers Properties and audio frequencies setting.
  1. Scroll down a bit to ensure that “Audio enhancements” is set as “Device Default Effects.” In Windows 11, they’re well integrated into the device audio output. Furthermore, the option for Spatial Audio should be turned off.
Device Default effects set up in Audio Enhancements for Windows 11.
  1. In Windows 10, you can maximize the volume for all of your devices using its device properties accessible from “Settings -> System -> Sound.” They open in a new pop-up window where you can set the maximum volumes. It’s better to check the box for “Disable all sound effects.”
Speakers Properties Volume levels and enhancements.

Good to know: experiencing Bluetooth audio delays in Windows? These tips can help you fix that.

6. Reset Windows System Sounds to Their Defaults

Windows comes with two default system sounds in its Settings: Windows Default and No Sound.

  1. Look for “Change system sounds” via the Windows 11 search menu. It will open a new pop-up window.
Search Change System Sounds in Windows 11 search menu.
  1. In Windows 10, the corresponding option opens from “Settings -> System -> Sound -> Manage Sound Devices.”
  1. Go to the “Sounds” tab. Under “Sound Scheme,” select the “Windows Default” option if it has been replaced by “No Sounds” or any other scheme. Click “Apply” to save the changes.
  2. Scroll down through each and every program event such as Asterisk, Calendar Reminder, Close Program, and Critical Battery Alarm to select the Windows defaults.
Changing "Sound Scheme" configuration in Windows.

Tip: if you got bored of Waves Audio and other default sound schemes, try one of these alternatives ranging from Super Mario to Ghostly voices.

7. Last Resort: Reset or Factory Reset

Most of the solutions above will easily fix the audio issues on your Windows device, so we do not recommend a reset or factory reset unless you find the device is behaving erratically and the sound problems are not getting better. In many cases, it’s a hardware issue, and you need to replace your sound card.

  1. To reset your PC, look for that option in the Windows search menu.
Reset this PC option selected in Windows search.
  1. Click the “Rest PC” button under Recovery Options. You can also visit it in Windows 11 from “Settings -> System -> Recovery -> Recovery Options.”
  2. In Windows 10, the option is available from “Settings -> Update & Security -> Recovery -> Reset this PC.”
Click the Reset PC button in Recovery Options of Windows 11.
  1. Choose “Keep my files.”
Keep my files in Reset PC options for Windows 11.
  1. Always select the “Cloud download” option. It downloads and installs the latest version of your operating system to your device.
Choose Cloud Download for resetting in Windows11
  1. Once your Windows device is ready to reset, there is no turning back, as the system will restart at this point. The whole process can take a few hours and up to a whole day.
Ready to reset PC in Windows 11.
  1. In very extreme cases, you may want to go forward with a factory reset of your Windows device. This can be done by clicking “Restart now” in the Advanced Startup menu.
Restart now in Advanced startup under Windows 11 Recovery.
  1. When Windows boots into its advanced startup mode, click on the prominent “Troubleshoot” option.
Troubleshoot option in Advanced Startup mode for Windows 11.
  1. Select “Factory Image Restore.”
Select factory image restore in Troubleshoot mode of Advanced Startup in Windows 11.
  1. Wait a few seconds for Windows to analyze your computer’s factory image restore and return to your PC manufacturer recovery environment.
  2. The PC will reboot, and you can do a factory restore in your dedicated image restore environment.
"Analyzing System" message in Windows 11.

Tip: are you seeing much CPU usage on your PC lately? Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation might be the culprit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my Windows sound settings not opening?

If you are facing trouble opening the sound settings in Windows, open its built-in audio troubleshooter from “System -> Troubleshoot Settings -> Other Troubleshooters -> Playing Audio.” Run the troubleshooter to fix the issue.

Is resetting my PC harmful?

Resetting your device using Windows-recommended options, such as cloud reset, won’t harm your device. However, if you’re going forward with a factory reset, it may be better to seek the help of a specialist.

Can I reset the sound with Command Prompt?

Yes, it’s possible. Open the Command Prompt in Windows in Administrator mode. Type net stop audiosrv to stop the audio service and net start audiosrv to restart the audio service. You can do many other things with Command Prompt, such as open files.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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