Headphones Not Working On Dell PC? (4 solutions)

Dell is well known for producing great PCs; you’ll find them in the office and people’s homes. These fantastic computers can be put to work to perform a multitude of tasks, but allowing users to enjoy multimedia is a vital function.

If you’re using your Dell PC in a busy environment that requires you to use headphones, then you’ll usually have no problems connecting them.

However, that does not mean that headphone issues never occur.

If you’ve found that your headphones are not working on your Dell PC then use our solutions to fix your problem fast and get back to your movie, podcast, playlist, or video call.

1. Updating Drivers on your Dell PC to Fix Headphone Problems

It’s important to understand that all audio that you wish to play through your Dell PC will rely on working and updated audio drivers.

Drivers are paramount when it comes to the functionality of countless connected devices you use on your Dell PC daily.

These drivers are crucial pieces of software and are often completely overlooked as they run in the background. However, if your hardware suddenly stops working, you may realize how vital they really are.

Audient.com summarises exactly what drivers do, explaining that:

“Drivers are pieces of software that allow the computer to communicate with peripherals connected to your computer.” 

In this case, the peripheral will be your pair of headphones and so, if your headphones are no longer working on your Dell PC, the cause may well be that your computer is not communicating with them.

This lack of communication can be due to a faulty driver.

Thankfully, driver issues can be solved quickly and efficiently by updating them via the ‘device manager’ on your Dell PC.

Once you’ve completed the update, you’ll likely find that your headphones start playing sound through them again.

Here’s How to Update the Audio Drivers on your Dell PC:

  1. Simultaneously press the Windows and ‘X’ keys.
  2. Choose ‘Device Manager’ from the list of options.
  3. Find ‘Sound, video, and game controllers’ and expand the list.
  4. Double-click your audio device/driver (headphones).
  5. Here, you will see in the ‘Device status’ box whether the device is working or not.
    • An error code will appear in this box if the device is not working and it may be necessary to run the audio troubleshooter – details on how to do this will be found further down in this article.
  6. If the device is working, click the ‘Driver’ tab at the top of the window.
  7. Finally, click ‘Update Driver’ and use the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

Please also read our article about testing Dell laptop microphones.

2. Roll back your Audio Driver & get your Headphones Working Again

Now that you are aware of the key role that drivers play regarding your headphones, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes an update can actually work against you.

Some users have found that after a Windows update, their headphones no longer seem to play any sound.

This has caused a lot of confusion, especially for users who have had no problem with that specific pair of headphones on their Dell PC before.

However, as TechNewsToday.com points out:

“(…) if you start having problems with audio, like [Your Dell PC] not recognizing headphones after a Windows update, we can roll back the update to the previous version.” [Source:Technewstoday.com]

Rolling back your driver to the previous version is a logical step, especially if you had no problems using your headphones before an update. Better yet, you do not need to revert your entire system back – just the audio driver in question.

Here’s How to Roll-back your Audio Driver:

  1. Navigate to ‘Device Manager’ by pressing the Windows and ‘X’ keys and selecting the option from the list.
  2. Right-click your headphone driver and select ‘Properties’
  3. Select the ‘Driver’ tab.
  4. Click ‘Roll Back Driver’

If you still have issues with your audio driver after updating or rolling back the software, you can always try uninstalling the driver completely.

Why Uninstalling your Audio Driver is Worth a Try:

When you uninstall your audio driver and reboot your Dell PC, the OS will automatically detect that the driver is no longer present and will reinstall the driver during the restart.

Some users have found that allowing Windows to restore the driver has actually fixed their headphone issues completely, but we’d still recommend working through the first two driver-related solutions first.

However, if you’re ready to uninstall your headphone driver then simply use the steps listed below:

  1. Open ‘Device Manger’
  2. Locate the driver and right-click.
  3. Select ‘Uninstall Device’
  4. Restart your Dell PC.

3. Disabling Audio Enhancements may Fix your Headphones on your Dell PC

When we use headphones with our Dell PCs, we expect to have a certain sound quality.

Headphones allow users to experience audio in all its detail, and whether you’re using them to listen to colleagues on a call or simply want to hear your favorite song in all its glory, quality is key.

However, there have been reports from users that when they use their headphones on their Dell PC they experience sound distortions akin to being inside a wind tunnel.

Obviously, this is less than ideal and needs to be resolved quickly – especially if you’re using your headphones for a specific task.

The good news is that these distortions and disruptions to sound quality do have a likely cause and, thankfully, there’s an easy solution for you to try out.

The Dell support pages on troubleshooting audio issues on your PC identified that Windows audio enhancements sometimes interfere with certain types of headphones.

By disabling these enhancements, users can listen to their audio as it is meant to be heard.

If you want to disable audio enhancements on your Dell PC then simply follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Click the Windows Logo to open the Start menu and then navigate to ‘Settings’
  2. Then click ‘System’, followed by ‘Sound’
  3. Select your headphones from the ‘Output’
  4. Click ‘Properties’ and then select the ‘Enhancement’ tab.
  5. Ensure you have checked ‘Disable all Enhancements’ before clicking ‘Apply’
  6. Finally, click ‘OK’

It’s worth noting that some apps will also attempt to switch on audio enhancements that may affect your headphones in an adverse way.

However, it is possible to prevent apps from doing so by following the steps above and heading back to the ‘Properties’ of your headphones.

From here, use these steps:

  1. Click the ‘Advanced’ tab.
  2. Uncheck the option for ‘Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device’
  3. Click ‘Apply’, followed by ‘OK’

4. Use the Audio Troubleshooter on your Dell PC to Solve Headphone Problems

Audio errors can occur on all computers, and Dell PCs are no exception.

However, Dell PCs use Windows as an OS, and Windows has a trick up its sleeve to help with problems that may affect your headphones.

If you find that your headphones are not working correctly, and/or you’ve seen that your device is showing an error in the device manager screen, then it is worth running the Windows Audio Troubleshooter.

By simply setting the troubleshooter off, you can allow Windows to do the hard work for you, and you’ll have the problem identified along with a solution.

The advantage of using the troubleshooter is clear – minimal effort is required by the user, and with a little luck, your headphones should work after the automatic solution is applied.

Here’s How to Run the Audio Troubleshooter on your Dell PC:

  1. Click the Windows logo and type ‘Settings’
  2. Click the Settings app to open and then select ‘System’
  3. From ‘System’ select ‘Troubleshoot’, followed by ‘Other troubleshooters’
  4. Choose to ‘Run’ the ‘Playing Audio’ troubleshooter.
  5. Allow the troubleshooter to scan your system for errors and problems.

The usefulness of this tool cannot be understated and, as Dell.com points out:

“[After] a few moments, you will see that the Playing Audio troubleshooter has found some problems and fixed them.” 

Final Thoughts

The troubleshooter and the guides above should help fix your headphone issues on your Dell PC, but this is not an exhaustive list of solutions.

Remember, always make some basic checks, such as:

  • Look for damage to your headphones and cable.
  • Ensure your headphones are properly connected to your PC.
  • Ensure that you have not set your volume too low or on mute.
  • Check that your headphones are set as the output device.


What Are Audio Drivers And Why Do We Need Them? 

Computer Not Recognizing Headphones? Here’s How to Fix It 

Troubleshooting Audio Problems in Windows 11

How to Connect Speakers or Headphones to a Dell Computer

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