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If you’ve recently lost the sound in your Windows 7 computer, don’t pack it up and take it to those geeky techs in the Volkswagens just yet. There are a number of steps you should take yourself that can end up saving you quite a bit of money. Here are some things you should try if you’re having problems with analog devices such as an Intel AC 97 audio controller in the Windows 7 environment.
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Check the Manufacturer's Website
Any time you have a problem with your PC, the first thing you should do is check the manufacturer's website for driver updates or technical support info. For example, I have a Toshiba Satellite laptop, so if I have driver issues, the first place I look is the Toshiba website. After I tell the site what model I have and the product identification number, I am taken to a download page. Once there, I look at the available sound drivers for my operating system, Windows 7 64-bit, and select those options in the dropdown boxes. I am presented with a page that looks like the image to the right. Clicking the link takes me to a page that tells me exactly what systems that particular driver will work on and, if it is an update, what problems it fixes. I am then presented with a button to press to download the driver file. Once the driver file is downloaded, I browse to it in my file manager (Windows Explorer). Upon finding it, I right click the file name and select “Run As Administrator.” If the problem (in this case, no sound) persists, I move on to the next step.
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Device/chipset makers provide OEM’s (Toshiba, Dell, Compaq, etc) with generic drivers for the chipset/controllers they sell. Intel is no different. The Intel website has a Driver Update Utility you can use that will search your system for devices and drivers that aren’t working properly, aren’t installed properly, or haven’t been detected. You will be presented with a list of drivers and chipsets manufactured or supplied by Intel that the utility identifies as not functioning properly. Downloading and installing is the same as the procedure outlined above. You may also search their database of drivers and chipsets manually by selecting the product family, product line, and the product name. Once located, the download and run the file, then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
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Microsoft Support Forums
If you’re not trying to save money, you can always give Microsoft Tech Support a call and then play the hit and miss game of the ‘tech rep’ on the other end of the phone understanding what you’re trying to tell them. You can also go to one of the better Windows 7 support forums, Windows 7 Forum. The older members there are quite knowledgeable and have answered a number of question regarding non-working analog devices such as an Intel AC 97 audio controller in Windows 7, especially 64-bit versions.
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Driver Editing - Locate the Hardware ID's
So far, the options you’ve been presented with should help you fix the AC 97 audio controller issue you’re having. If not, you need to add the unique Device ID information to the driver file. Use the following process to identify this information:
- First, we need to take a look at the Device ID’s for your audio controller.
- Next, go to Control Panel and open Device Manager.
- From there, scroll down to the Sound and Multimedia Controller.
- Right click it and select Properties.
- Click the Details tab.
- In the drop down menu, select Hardware ID’s.
- Copy and paste these into a Notepad file for future use.
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Adding Info to the Driver File
Use the following process to add the unique Deivice ID information to the driver file:
- Click the Driver tab and then click the Driver Details button. Make note of the first filename as this is the one you need to edit.
- Next, in the Notepad file, find the data from VEN to the amerpsand (&).
- Next, find the file you made note of from the driver details, open it with Notepad and use the Search function to find the data string from the Device ID.
- Once you locate this, place the cursor at the end of the line it appears on and hit enter.
- Copy and paste the Device ID info from the Notepad file into the driver file.
- Save the file and close it.
Ideally, you will be doing this before installing the driver, but it should also work on an installed driver. You’ll just have to reboot after. Now go ahead and install the audio driver or reboot the computer. Your sound should be working now. Refer to the screenshots provided to clarify any questions about what the particular dialogs or windows should look like.
- Screenshots supplied by the author and are for use here only.
- The author spent 10 years as a hardware and software support engineer and representative.