My father's bizarre audio problem

Something is seriously wrong with the audio on my father’s laptop. All audio through it sounds distorted and masculine, eg a female voice sounds like a man.

Headphones don’t improve the situation which leads me to believe it is the sound card not the in-built speakers.

Has anyone ever heard of something like this before and is there any way it can be fixed? Or does he need a new sound card?

It’s possessed?

It actually sounds like that. I think something in it must be happening similar to those “voice disguisers” one can buy to make anonymous phone calls with. But my father would definitely never have downloaded any software like that (he’s not very technical) and the problem persists across all applications: from playing music, video to Skype and YouTube.

There is no such thing as a sound card on a laptop, it’s built in to the motherboard. You may be able to get a PCMCIA or CardBus sound card as a replacement though.

But more likely something is misconfigured. Look around in the Start Menu or Control Panel for audio settings, his sound output may be modified by some sort of filter. See if you can revert things back to plain generic settings.

About the only thing I can think of is to try uninstalling the audio device(s) and letting Windows re-install them.

Normally, the path to this is Control Panel - System - Hardware tab - Device Manager - scroll down to find Sound, Video and Game Controllers. Right-click and choose Uninstall. You’ll probably find most of the entries there have an Update option but no Uninstall. Ignore them for now. Reboot, and Windows should run its “New Hardware detected” routine. You will probably need to have the laptop’s utility/restore CD handy as Windows may ask for drivers.

Thanks for that - I will have a go.

Not true, as it was an option on my most recent laptop purchase. Admittedly, it’s usually only available on higher-end laptops.

I had something similar on an Acer laptop recently. It turned out that the sound card driver software (RealTek? Something beginning with R, anyway) had various effects such as “stone wall echo”, and one of them had somehow become enabled. Why you would want everything coming out of your speakers to sound like it was emanating from a haunted crypt is beyond me, but that might be the cause of it.

Ah yes, I’d forgotten all about nutty effects like that. Now that you’ve jogged my memory, the onboard sound on my last desktop PC had an absurd range of effects that you could put onto the sound.

If you right-click the speaker icon that’s probably in the bottom corner, near the clock, you can get at the audio properties. Look for something along the lines of “Effects” - it may be a top-level tab, or hidden behind an “Advanced…” button on one of the tabs.

I had a similar problem a while back. My audio played about one-third octave higher than normal but at normal speed. Reloadng the drivers fixed the problem.

creative audio console in modern audio drivers have the option to modify how sound actually sounds via EAX

open it, search for the EAX tab, and change teh active preset to “(No Effects)”

that should fix it, sometimes HD-audio drivers have those functions too, maybe vista, just search well