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How to reset all audio settings in Windows 11

Avoid reinstalling drivers unless that seems to be only plausible answer.
By
December 22, 2023

Reverting Windows settings might be considered a harsh solution for PC audio problems, but sometimes it can be the simplest troubleshooting method, especially if you’re not sure what went wrong in the first place. Here’s how to reset Windows 11 audio settings, including resetting sound drivers too if necessary.

How to reset all audio settings in Windows 11

If you want to reset everything, the bad news is that you’ll have to visit several sections of Windows to get things done. The good news is that there’s a reason — you may be able to fix your problems after completing just a handful of steps.

Resetting sound devices and volume for all apps

Resetting Windows 11 app volume
Roger Fingas / Android Authority

To reset volume levels for all apps, in case some have been accidentally muted or lowered:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Click on System in the sidebar, then Sound on main pane.
  • Under the Advanced header, click on Volume mixer.
  • Towards the bottom of the apps section, click Reset. This will switch input and output devices to recommended defaults, so be aware if you use gear like gaming headphones or an external mic.

Resetting sound properties

Resetting Windows 11 sound properties
Roger Fingas / Android Authority
  • Open the Settings app.
  • Navigate to System > Sound.
  • Under Advanced, click on More sound settings.
  • In the pop-up Sound window, select the Playback tab.
  • Choose your speakers/headphones, then click Properties.
  • Select the Enhancements tab, then Restore Defaults.
  • Choose the Advanced and Spatial sound tabs and click Restore Defaults there as well.
  • Repeat these steps as necessary if you have multiple pairs of speakers or headphones.

Resetting the Windows sound service

Windows Audio in Windows 11 services
Roger Fingas / Android Authority
  • Using the Windows 11 search bar, look for Services and open the associated app.
  • In the Services (Local) pane, scroll down until you find Windows Audio.
  • Right-click on Windows Audio, then left-click on Stop.
  • Right-click on Windows Audio again and click Start.

How to reset your audio drivers in Windows 11

The Windows 11 Device Manager
Roger Fingas / Android Authority

This is probably the most involved and risky process, so you should try resetting other settings first if there’s a chance that might work. Broken, missing, or corrupted drivers will certainly kill Windows sound however, so there might be no alternative.

  • Using the Windows 11 search bar, look for Device Manager and open the associated app.
  • Scroll down, then expand the Sound, video and game controllers category.
  • Find the device that seems to be giving you trouble and right-click it. If a device appears to be missing, skip to the last step.
  • Click Uninstall device and follow prompts.
  • In some cases, simply rebooting your computer will automatically reinstall needed drivers. Otherwise, though, you’ll have to go to a computer or audio device maker’s website to download updated driver software.

FAQs

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but if you’re using the default 3.5mm port on your desktop or laptop, you probably just need the driver(s) for your computer’s integrated audio. Check a PC maker’s website for help. To reinstall this sort of driver, you can probably just uninstall it (see the steps above) and reboot your PC.

If that doesn’t work or you’re using more specialized audio gear, such as headphones with their own wireless dongle, you make need to go to a manufacturer’s website and find the latest driver download there.

When its toggle is available for a device under Settings > System > Sound > [device name], the option attempts to automatically enhance sound output. This can include things like Bass Management, Room Correction, Loudness Equalization, and Virtual Surround (simulated surround sound).

You can get more nuanced control by going to System > Sound > More sound settings > Playback, selecting your speakers/headphones, then clicking Properties and finally the Enhancements tab.