How do you tell if your computer has a sound card?

I bought a rebuilt computer, recently.

I tried adding plug-in speaker, but they don’t even register as plugged-in.
And no sound.
So…How do I tell if my computer has a sound card?

Sound comes in two flavors, sound cards, and onboard. If your rear audio plugs are mixed in with the USB and or network ports, its onboard sound.

If your audio plugs are in one of the expansion slots, you have a sound card.

To make it more confusing you may have both


Okayyyy…how do I get my brand new speakers to work?

How many sockets do you have that a speaker can plug into? If it’s only one, then your computer might use the same socket for both input (like a microphone) and output (like a speaker), and you might have to go into the settings to change which it treats it as. What operating system and version do you use?

Windows XP.

There seems to be two sockets, one for mike & one sound.

I’ve matched the color-coded sockets.

Check Device Manager to see if the sound card is active, or if it shows as an “unknown device.” The difference will be whether the correct drivers are loaded.

If there are no drivers loaded and the card is not active, you can let Windows try to find the right ones, or pull the card and go download the EXACT drivers needed - emphasis because for things like Creative there are dozens of card models and then a card sold as one model might actually have five or ten revisions - with no compatible drivers between them.

Where do I find Device Manager?
I looked in the Control Panel, but no dice.

Right click on the “My computer” icon, Properties, Device Manager.

I found something called “Audio Codeics”.
Is that it?

You can do it from a Command Prompt:

Click Start

Click Run

You’ll get a text box. type this in:


Hit Enter

That should do it.

You can also get there from the Control Panel by clicking on the following buttons and tabs:

Control Panel
Performance and Maintenance
Device Manager

No-no…I found the Device Manager.

Is “Audio Codeics” the sound card?
What will the card be labeled as?

I can only say for Linux, so for XP find the equivalent settings:

in KDE I can either look in System Settings, go to Multimedia and look under Audio Settings, which lists the devices. About 4 seconds.

Or I can log into the Control Center, click on Hardware Information, wait for it to probe, and read the sound profile. About 2 minutes.

Or if it’s a desktop, open the case.

i really don’t understand most of that, and I wouldn’t know what a sound card looked like.

Well, in the first case my sound card is listed as CMI[long number] Audio Analog, with the built in card greyed out.

( The choice of card is set in the BIOS — at which you could also look to see whether a card is installed. )

In the Hardware option it says: X-Plosion 7.1, which I can see is a separate card.

In the case a card would be installed into one of the PCI slots probably.

Audio Codecs perhaps refers to the codecs installed which are files that translate other files, like mp3s, into sound, independently of any card.

I don’t understand one single word.

Let’s try this another way–when I open Device Manager, what am I looking for? Will it be listred as “Sound Card”?

I believe that Audio Codecs is the software. If there is no card listed in the device manager, you may not have one. There should be something in the Control Panel that has to do with Hardware and Sound. If you open it, there may be a button that’s turned off.

On my Window 7 system, it is listed under “Sound, video, and game controllers”.

The quickest way to get to Device Manager, incidentally, is to hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key. IIRC, in XP that takes you straight there; in Win 7 it takes one more click.

No. It will be listed as [NAME][LONG NUMBER], like say as a made up example: Creative-5555555.

I fired up an XP virtual machine in VirtualBox: under Control Panel look for Sounds & Audio Devices. Then click Hardware. Anything with AC’97 is onboard audio: Google any name you don’t recognise.

I’m beginning to get the notion that I have no sound card.
I will go have a discussion with the seller of this item.
I am debating whether or not to bring a Blunt Object with me, for the discussion.

I warmly thank each & every one of you for your help & patience with me!

Because you have a place to plug in speakers, I find this highly unlikely.

No one’s asked this yet, and I apologize in advance for the basicness of it, but are your speakers plugged into a wall outlet in addition to being plugged into the computer?