Why Does My Sound Crap Out On My Computer For No Reason?

I boot up, log in and can hear everything just great - stream music or watch YouTube or whatever.
Then I go onto Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator or even MS Word and do some work and when I go back to the Internet to see a video or hear some music and bam - sound gone.
The only way to “fix” it is to re-boot my laptop.
Is there some reason for this?

Could be a driver issue. Try going to your laptop manufacturer’s site and seeing if there are updated drivers for the audio chipset.

Although I can’t imagine why this would happen in an application that doesn’t deal with sound, what can sometimes happen is certain apps can request exclusive control over your sound card. When that happens no other apps can access your sound card. If for whatever reason that app does not release control when you exit, or if another app tries to butt in with some audio of its own and the drivers don’t handle it properly, you can lose your sound entirely until you reboot. Often though, when a sound card has drivers that allow application exclusivity, its settings will allow you to disable applications being granted exclusive control.

Could be that the application is enough of a memory hog that parts of the sound driver, or its buffer, get wriitten out to VM, AKA the hard drive, and the driver subsequently chokes when it can’t access the information as fast as it wants.
Adding more physical memory would help if the trouble rises from this sort of issue.

Does the sound go completely or does it play cracked-up or with stutters? If the latter, I’m guessing you have a on-board sound chip, likely Realtek, and are using Windows Vista. To resolve the issue, turn off the boost to foreground apps. Or upgrade to Windows 7.

If the sound goes completely, does the sound device go missing in Device Manager? Are you over-clocking your PC? If so, try not over-clocking

True. If the audio chipset doesn’t have hardware buffers, this could be a significant problem. I think we’d need to know more about DMark’s system setup though.

Yes, the sound goes completely - and sometimes the video plays without sound, and sometimes the video doesn’t play at all, but I see it downloading and the buffer taking data. Again, if I re-boot and then play YouTube videos, etc. everything works just fine. It is only when I have been on the computer for awhile and then go back to try to see/hear a video when this happens.

I have Windows XP and never had this problem before - but this is ongoing now for at least the past 6 months or so, but getting worse and happening more often.

I will do some searching to see if there might be a new driver update for my sound/video, but normally that has always been updated fairly regularly, automatically in the background (after I click “OK” to update).

It is especially annoying now that I am making some video tutorials for my classes and want to test them. I have to log off and reboot to see them online.

How strange - I’ve had this same problem in Windows XP on my desktop computer for a couple years, except I’ve never been able to figure out the cause. I don’t use Word on purpose these days, and don’t even have Adobe Illustrator installed, but I wonder if Acrobat might be the trigger for my system. I always figured it was a glitch in the OS, the sort of thing people do reinstalls to fix.

My info, in case it help anyone troubleshoot DMark’s issues: The problem happens very rarely these days; before the last incident a couple weeks ago, it had been a good number of months and I’d forgotten about it entirely. Everything will be working fine, then I’ll load WinAmp and it won’t play, or it will play but I don’t hear any music. For what it’s worth, I tried updating the sound drivers back when it was really troublesome (a year ago? year and a half? longer? something like that), and it didn’t help. I’ve also tried restarting any services that look relevant, and that doesn’t help either. The only thing that fixes it is a reboot.

Sounds like it may be a combination of low memory and XP’s garbage creep. Over time XP gets bogged down with crap, especially in the registry. When that happens it slowly takes more and more memory to run properly, which means it’s going to run slower as it hits the swap file (pagefile) more and more frequently, in addition to needing more swap space, because your RAM is slowly being consumed by crap loading on Windows startup. It’s possible this could be munging your audio drivers while paging memory.

A few possible solutions:

  1. Run a defrag on your system, and then run regclean over it to help clean out orphaned keys and crap.
  2. Install more RAM. It will not by itself solve the garbage creep problem, but it will give Windows more breathing room, alleviating the need to hit the pagefile as much.
  3. Uninstall (or disable through msconfig) any non-essential startup programs. In fact, check your startup list in msconfig (start->run->msconfig->startup tab) to see if there’s anything in there that either looks like it doesn’t belong, or is something you can do without. There are programs that often load “helper” apps (QuickTime, Acrobat, and others do this) that pre-load parts of their parent programs to make loading these apps quicker, but are totally unnecessary and just waste memory. If you aren’t sure what an app is by its filename, do a search on your system to find out what folder they live in, and you can usually figure out what it’s for that way.

Hope those help.

I don’t know but my Gateway (which has been otherwise dependable)'s AC97 motherboard sound circuitry decided to walk off the job. I bought and installed a USB sound card and no problems since. Sometimes the best solution is to go around the mountain rather than peak the darn thing.