Sound levels reverting to zero


Am using Win 7 32 bit on oldish Dell desktop.

Suddenly find that sound mixer level reverts to zero whenever I use an application. Win Media Player Youtube, various players etc. Looked at web but can't find a fix for my situation ( Have ensured that Win not set to mute/reduce sound. Have that on do nothing)

Quite surreal as you can see sound actually reverting in front of your eyes!

Thanks for your time.

Sent from my iPhone using Windows Forums mobile app


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
Hi Steve,
if you pop along to the Dell site and input the model number you'll find the support page. Hopefully you'll find later driver versions but if you struggle finding it, post the model and we'll look for you.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Have seen this problem before in W7. There are several different causes, including failing hardware on a 7 year old machine. However, give this one a try: The most frustrating Windows 7 audio problem solved | PC Gamer.

Hope this works for you. If it doesn't you may have to do some troubleshooting and test your hardware in order to resolve it. This post I wrote incorporates the instructions you need to do you own hardware testing to see if it's a failing component in your PC that's causing the problem, or a virus infection or windows registry corruption as mentioned in the above solution link.
Here's that post: Windows 10 - Unclickable Task Bar.
This is a lengthy post, about 6-8 pages, so you may wish to print it out and use the hardcopy in front of the machine you are working on to attempt to fix it.

*If you find this solution helpful, please come back to this thread and put a LIKE on my Post to let other forum users with a similar question that my solution helped you! Thanks--



Many thanks for prompt and constructive responses. In relation to first advice re updating Dell drivers: I don't know if it's relevant but the option to update drivers via PC is greyed out which I thought was odd?

I'll certainly try tests mentioned and report back but I'm more inclined to believe it's component related as have full Norton anti virus etc.

Thanks again.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Hi again;
You're welcome. Glad to try and help!;)
Let us know how it goes, and thanks for letting us know you did virus scans.




1. PC is Dell XPS420 so an older model. Website offers two audio driver updates. These are both "Creative Labs Soundblaster" I'm not sure I need these but will install if you think this will make a difference. I said earlier that option to check for sound card driver updates on PC is greyed out. Properties also confirms that "device is working properly".

2. Ran memory test with boot cd and no errors. I have two hard disks as added a second one myself. Win says both working properly etc and no driver updates available. I didn't do any further testing of hard drive as genuinely think that's a red herring in my case.

3. Tested reg keys and all files showing in permissions etc.

It's weird that this issue has just presented but could be due to age of machine. (Originally had Vista pre-reinstalled but running Win 7 for about 5 years with no issues.

The sound plays normally for a minute or two then the slider drops to zero!!!

Still a bit mystified.

Thanks for your interest.


Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Does the sound jump to zero or does it look like someone is holding the volume down bottom?


Slider definitely doesn't "jump". It gradually drops do more like latter.



Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Certainly could be a keyboard issue I've seen it before.

Thanks. I've removed and replaced speaker connections but not keyboard. Will give it a try.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
If new keyboard doesn't fix, I would suggest you go back to my Post #3 and go to the software repairs embedded link. Backup all your library folders to external media, and try to do the following:

1.) Windows 7 in-place upgrade
2.) Windows reset from Recovery media or partition
3.) Windows 7 reinstallation from factory Recovery media (DVD or USB) and restore to OOB (Out-Of-Box) condition

Sound problems can be really trick to fix, and can takes weeks or months to figure out if ever. If you apply all 3 of these software repairs and none fix your sound problem, it's almost certainly the hard drive or the Motherboard which has failed.:waah: New hard drives run under $70 on ebay or Amazon whereas new Mobos cost from $175-$1500. Even though you don't believe it's a hardware failure, you are not a computer engineer. Our methods are based on decades of repair experience. Replacing the hard drive is the least costly of 2 necessary evils if you get to this point with no success. Replacing the hard drive with a brand new drive and reinstalling W7 without resolving your sound problem means almost certainly you experienced a Mobo failure (such as the embedded audio chip) and the only solution then is to replace that Mobo or junk that computer and replace it with another one!:(


Thanks again. Believe it or not I may have resolved problem by removing and reconnecting keyboard!!

I'll keep tabs and let you know if problem returns. Meanwhile much appreciated for time and expertise.




Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Great! Glad it's working for you! :up: Neemo gets the credit then on this one for suggesting it.

I would mention to you that if that Dell PC had Vista on it when you bought it, it is nearing it's end of life, (and is about 9 years old) as Microsoft is discontinuing all support for Vista in 2018, Win7 in 2020.:sosad: From a software standpoint you've got about 4 years left on that computer. From a hardware standpoint, computers today very rarely last over 10 years, with the exception of Dells. I have one Dell laptop that was built in 1999 (17 years old) and still turns on and run. But, it's so antiquated you can't do anything with it and since the RAM can't be upgraded to even 2GB; it's basically a doorstop along with my Win95 and Win98 computers I have laying around. If you haven't replaced the Hard Drive in that PC since you bought it, you should do it sooner rather than later.

In that regards, I strongly urge you to make an image backup of your existing Win7 configuration using the free Macrium Reflect software found here: Macrium Reflect Free.
And if you've never done an Image backup before, you'll need an inexpensive external usb hard drive which run about $60 US for a 1TB drive which should give you plenty of space to store at least 3 complete backup images. This is a really good idea to have this capability to protect all your personal data from irretrievable data loss.
Here's a great step-by-step video from Britec on how to make your 1st Image Backup:

Many of us Techs here on WF use this software or similar to protect our aging (and new!) computers.;)

Best of luck,:encouragement:

Thanks again. So far so good with sound!

Understand re shelf life of various OSs. We have just been v unlucky as always entering market when inferior systems available (ME then Vista!!) I originally installed a copy of XP on PC and dual booted with Vista. I then acquired a copy of Win 7 and dual booted with XP (using that for specific prog) I now just have Win 7 on PC.

I will make Image back up as precaution.

Thanks again.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Sure thing, Steve. Glad the sound continues to work for you.:applaud: Let us know how the backups go and if you get stuck, just holler.

Have a great week!;)

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