NO SOUND?  NO AUDIO?        

  • My internal speakers are dead (Laptops)?  (In call cases I am using Windows Sounds, via, (Control panel + Sound + Sounds Tab , TEST)
  • The Desktop external speakers are dead using the green 3.5mm jack on the PC. (or just unplugged or 1/2 plugged in, or A.C. power the speakers is missing or not plugged in, or this?)
  • My Ear-buds are dead. (way more serious this, and 2 times more worse if Windows sounds are dead) See drivers here.
  • My real head phones , real means actual phones with a 3.5mm green phone plug (and not USB sound devices of any kind, as they have there own chips and there own drivers unrelated to the above)
  • My Desktop has 3 sound sources, HDM#1 mobo, HDMI #2 on Video card and the rear green 3.5mm jack to my sound chip made by Realtek. (any one of  the 3 can fail with the wrong or missing driver)
The number 1 reason for dead sound is the PC not connected to the internet (now) and can not run the  Microsofts PnP Plug and Play engine, to correct this fast and easy.
The number 2 reason now and for ever I guess, is upgrading to W10 with out premission from your OEM (HP , Dell, Acer, Asus, Toshsiba, etc) <<< this is because most sound chips made 1000's of them do not have W10 drivers! A hard cold fact!
I will cover only dead 2 channel Stereo sound channels, not dead upper channels like seen on 7.1 surround sound system.
I will not cover all 9  classes of sound devices only what came with your PC new and not USB powered. NOT COVERED List of 9
There now are 30 years of sound chips and cards made (1000s) like  Sound blaster ISA  cards, CT1320A, was released in 1989 (today vast numbers of devices can make sound)
Most older PC's older cards, or over 10 years  old and for sure back 3 decades will dead in Windows 8 or 10.  Hell, even dead after Vista released !

See the magic of PCI-z scanner tool, get it run it and see what is really inside that boxed PC. (or in Windows run box type MSinfo32 ) click components then sound. (you must learn DEV codes to use MSinfo32)
Many Old PCs have old sound chips no longer supported by anyone on earth, one company that does this poorly is VIA. VT series of chips, (they will in fact have no driver there, and then send you to your PC makers web site for good reasons)
In many cases (most) chip VISTA era and older are no good now.

Sounds started in 1989 (called by the fancy name "multimedia" ) with the mighty Sound blaster 1.0 card, in desktops.
Sounds must be tested from simple modes to complex, first.  (windows sounds 1st,  local sound files play ok and last internet sound or Video of any kind (most complex of all)
The sound chips can be just a simple DAC (digital to analog converter) then connects to a mixer, (can be a 2nd chip) then goes to Pre-AMP, a very low powered, OP_AMP chip, and last to the rear JACK 3.5mm (green coded, ATX spec color)
This line out is only good for 300mV max output (0.3 volts) this will not ever run speakers lacking a power-amp.
The laptop will have this lineout jack and will have one more POWER amp inside that puts out 1 to 3 watts of power to 2 internal gutless, tinny sounding speakers we all hate.
Only your OEM  PC maker has drivers that allow this complex path to work, (or if a sound card, you card makers drivers) Do not run drivers not made for your exact PC or exact sound card. (or it will fail)

First off , if it's a laptop, the inside speakers almost never fail for sure both at once, how could they "?  (some desktop SFF boxes have speakers in side too, RTM read the manual or look inside)
? but the ear phone jack can fail (dirt in its hidden inside switch) and kill the internal speakers dead super easy, cycle that phone jack with a plug in set of buds to free this jam.
When head phones are plugged in to the 3.5mm Green line out jack this turns off the internal laptop speakers.
 
Let me do a simple bullet list  for the silly things that fail first.  (when I say green jack that means the actual green desktop jack, but on silly laptops, it has no green mark there, (only labeled as phone/ icons as a clue)
First and only if present is this.
One easy fix here is to go in to BIOS pages, and see the onboard SOUND chip there not enabled?. (kids playing games?).(As seen in this photo)
Next is the kids turned on mute. (I like to blame my dog, but kid's won, or trolls or ankle biters)
  • Turn the MUTE button off, in the task bar is it,  if yes click it off.   right click it to turn up volumn and turn off MUTE.
  • The rear of the PC desktop has a  green jack, (or marked as phones or line-out) Your earbuds, head phones or powered speakers must be connected here to get sounds, unless a  laptop with internal speakers.
  • The USB jacks must not have any USB head phones plugged in now. (to make those rascals  work right,  turn off internal chip sound (DM) and now the USB phones work)  DM= Device manager in control panel.
  • In Sound devices, are the external speakers enabled, they must be turned on, (AC  powered they are) and must have there independant sound controls turned up. Or there will be no sound from them. (and connected to the green jack)
  • The best testing  device for sounds are $1 dollar store EAR BUD phones,  (dirt cheap and always work and always my first tests besides mute and volumn wrong.)
  • The External speakers in desktops can be hidden inside MONITORS, connected the same way, but now you must use  the monitors OSD  menu button and turn up volume inside that window.  (varies by make of monitor the steps , RTM (read the manual)
  • Tje external monitor speakers, are wired with 3.5mm double ended phone plug cable. (jacked in to lineout, green jack or marked phones)
I simply click the taskbar Icon, and turn off mute and then up the volume, example here is W10.  Speaker Icon here is dead or missing acts odd the sound driver is bad.

The next thing to check is the MIXER.
Do I need to say if the earbuds worked ok, above,  then sounds are ok!, only the actual speakers are dead? external?
If this is a laptop and the earbuds work then your PC needs service,  The jacks can be bad , there is switch inside the jack that switches, Buds or internal ( line_out or internal to be technically accurate) Even cycling the earbud into said jack can fix this.
Some PC have  2 line-out( phone out , speakers out ) jacks, front and rear. Try them both, and know too that if the motherboard connectors to both jack panels can fall off and it it does both panels can fail. (jack panels)
Some desktops monitor the front panel and if the panel lies (logic) the rear goes dead, because it thinks (wrongly) your front panel has plugged in, say speaker or phones and are not plugged in, so look inside the Desktop for those wired connectors , Fell OFF.
This is tricky business here, so I will stop, at deeper hardware analysis and just cover the common easy sound failures, end to ead, the 99% most common, not dead chips.


The order of these tests are important (it's progressive) (all sounds originate from a Digital files somewhere ;anywhere) Windows sounds are  xyz.wav files.  (located in the Windows folders)
Testing 1,2,3:
  1. Next check your MIXER see first in photos below, (turn all that up, and the speaker ICON to selected now) See the first photo below for mixer settings.
  2. Try $1  Ear-buds next in the desktops the jack is GREEN (means LINE OUT to speakers or phones) does that work, lets say no. ( see my buds?)
  3. If Ear bubs work then you do have sound, only the speakers are dead, on  most Desktops ,speakers are in fact an option, and must be plugged in correctly to the green "Line_out" jack.  If External speakers fail, jump here.
  4. Ok buds are dead,  next is control panel, click start, and find and click   control panel (CP), as seen in Photo1 below.
  5. Next click SOUND on that CP window. Photo1.
  6. Open the SOUNDS tab. see  Photo #2
  7. Click Asterisk choices, and push the TEST BUTTON, if this fails windows sounds are dead, try other choices there, pick critical STOP error. (this must work)) if not, jump to 10. If OK then see line 17
  8. Go to CP again, (control panel photo1) and pick Device Manager {DM}, See photo 3 below and this is what you may see.
  9. On the left side of DM are all the chips in your PC, called DEVICES. See the line called SOUND, the chips there must not be missing , in RED/yellows error marked or show as UNKNOWN if yes, see end of this page (NODRIVER.)
  10. Just because DM shows no errors, there, this only about 75% accurate, so do the right click SOUND, and  update driver. (you must be internet connected here or 1/2 your changes fail here)
  11. On some Desktops, you may have 2 sound chip devices, the onboard, sound chip and or just PCI slot Sound card,  (Creative labs or 1000s of others made and sold and installed) Only you know which chip is is best for you. 
  12. The PCI slot sound card is usually the best for sound,  and on old PCs, you must go into the BIOS and disable the on motherboard (mobo) chip or sounds can fail,  if newer PC this is Automatic this swap over from onboard to PCI sound slot sounds.
  13. Click DM VIEW tab, click hidden devices, I bet now that the dead device shows up, and failing , but   still missing, you need to go in to BIOS and see if the brat kids disabled sound in BIOS,  (jump to photo below.)
  14. If the BIOS shows sound is enabled, run the PCI-Z program next (application/app) run that and see all chips and what sound chips are there, makers name "eg. Realtek" and model ACL221 or 880 / 888/892/8111/8139 and lots more some not supported
  15. I know for a fact some very popular Realtek sound chips are not supported in W7,  installed with a Microsoft install DVD or ISO.  (but available from HP or DELL or Realtek, or your PC makers home pages)
  16. If you can, click the named sound chips name on the left DM, called selecting in Windows. (if the device sound is there, right click it and pick update driver now, but windows must be connected to the internet)
  17. Then click TAB, named DETAILS
  18. Last select, Properties, roller bar, and find Hardware ID's   (this is the super secret  chip IDENTIFICATION CODES)  ( see how to decode them here)
  19. Learn that 1 model laptop can be purchased day1 with 3 to 5 sound chips,  called OPTIONS , just like a new car  , 5 sound system choices, and only this step here tells you WHAT YOU HAVE, on desktops 100s of chips possible.
  20. Now we know that all sounds are dead, and the chip driver is bad, missing wrong or corrupted. (only 15 steps or 10 to find this truth) go to NODRIVER now.
  21. Lets say all PC system Sounds are ok, but the internet or music online or movies on line are soundless.  (that is a whole other matter.) covered next.
  22. Did you try all web browsers first,  IE8 to 11?  or Firefox V59 up? (did you know, many (and growing) All XP IE browers is now banned?  Run Firefox v59+ for  free, it is never banned.
  23. Did you make sure you have a media player installed? for the web and for local music fails or local video try VLC here. Free and 100% Virus free too. (warning lots of other places offer this program loaded with malware or WORSE)


SHOW AND TELL:

Mixer, go to your task bar , click speaker ICON, and right click open mixer, make sure all bars are fully up, then click speaker icon on the left. and make sure its set to SPEAKERS. seen on the right below. This must be selected .
In the MIXER them all UP.  (not microphone) Right click task bar, speaker icon and pick sound mixer, bingo.

Below is  Playback ( what you have here depends on how many devices your PC has,  only you know what you have and what you want as the sonic device heard.  I have speakers turned on.
Again Right click task bar, speaker but now pick playback devices, and enable what you are using,  speaker or headphones.

In the above example you pick #3 local sound. (this means the local chip decodes the sound, mixes it , amplifies it (a normal and weak 300mV levels) and sends it out the green 3.5mm sound line out jack.
Then the person using said JACK can use earbuds , head phones 3.5mm only or much better use real PC class, fully amplified, (has AC line power) SPEAKER sets and with a sub woofer for best effect.
That is how it works.
If  this fails to work on ear buds, at that jack the sound driver for the sound chip is wrong one, missing or corrupted. (to test this jack remove all usb sound devices, and all blue tooth sound devices, first)
If you have  Desktop PC we can have 2 sound chips, one on board, and the PCI-express fancy  High end, sound card, that does say 7.1 Dolby sound?
If the driver is bad, see control panel steps below. But next is how to use Windows sounds as  base test.

Connected up to my huge power amp and huge speakers. (no limits here but I first turn off the old chip in BIOS so the new card  can work. (a Desktop here))


Photo 1: Control Panel W10 {CP}
CP


Photo2: Click SOUND TAB.   click Asterisk, then click TEST , if the green ARROW is not green that means windows thinks the DRIVER IS DEAD OR BAD.
If this test fails, then sound decoding is dead on this PC, this must work first, all other tests, for the 3.5mm jack are useless until local windows sounds start working, (first things first)
Push TEST, and listen.  There must be a wav file in the Sounds: Field box. if not windows is corrupted.
Windows will gray out TEST button if it thinks the sound card is dead (device= card=chip) leading us next to below... checks.
Some times windows thinks sound drivers are ok and are NOT OK at all.  Reload them is the JOB at hand next.
Ok say the driver is suspected of being bad,  (in all cases be internet connected)


Photo 3: DM window or device manager.  Click Sound, ...  on the left first.
We are doing this to see if the sound driver is missing or failing, this is a sound chip driver, that was present the day you bought your PC new.
Try to now that PCs even one base model when sold new, may have had, many sound options sold new. 
Also know that your used old PC , may have had the sound card (Desktop) changed to upgrade, so don't expect your PC maker to know this nor have drivers supporting this unknown device.
In those cases we LOOK to find what is there, or scan it.
If a desktop and you see a PCIe Sound card in its slot,  you can read words stamped on the card easy to see what card it is, maker, and model, and we can match up drivers or it.

This is the Device manager below,  and there can be many clues here, about bad drivers,  if the driver is marked in red(yellow or Unknown) (mines Realtek but from HP on my laptop)
The key facts to know here and now are that there can be 4 states of conditions here.
  1. Missing, like if my Realtek line is missing there (click View tab, click show hidden devices)  This can happen missing if BIOS sound is turned off, so turn it on, see that here.
  2. Unknown on that line.
  3. Red maked, means its in ERROR CONDTION.
  4. Yellow marked means its in warning status.
In cases of 2,3,4 go to HP.com and load the correct driver, now. (or simply right click the device, and pick update driver)

Be aware that you might have 4 or more sound devices listed, (on board, USB sound, headphone sound, or even blue tooth, and more)
 Below is my example of checking the Realtek on-board chip . The NVIDIA lines below are HDMI SOUND, so ignore that.
This screen below is Device manager ,selected from the Control Panel.  DM for short.
See my on-board Realtek sound chip Id's here.   See the Propery roller bar here,
Btw: Realtek has new  huge unified driver at their website, that does all sound chips by them up to W10. (but they keep moving there web pages, like mad)  (google realtek.com download)
NO DRIVER found?: See here how to find it, run PCI-z.exe program.  (called software Drivers) Only you PC maker has them, or Microsoft (mostly)
A chip can not work right or at all, if the driver
is missing, or wrong one or corrupted, (XP and it endless viruses loves to fail with 700+ exploits)

 
SCANS are best: 
  ( you are here because you have upgraded to W10 and your OEM told you not to , and no driver from them, nor does Microsoft PnP finds one )
So we SCAN. (we scan the PCI bus)
Run PCI-z now, seen on my PCI scanning page, that covers how to discover and to get any driver made.
Be aware that Microsoft PnP Plug in Play fails on most chips made , that the makers do not support now.  (most sound chips made are not supported) Realtek is one of the best for support.

Learn now that the PC you bought new, can and were sold with 5+ or more option sound cards or chips, just like you CAR was new with 10 more more SOUND SYSTEMS installed.

The PC has sub model codes in the say HP Service tag , with ABA# codes, this magic code tells any owner or HP pro what sound chip is there. (if not upgraded as many desktops are)
Some makers of PC the chips installed are hidden in the serial number of the PCI that only  THEY can decode (like ACER.com)

Guessing at the driver, will only make things worse, the above, ID tells any technician what chip is there, even it's version is there.
One can look inside a Desktop and see , ok no sound card upgrade there, then read the chip top next to the green 3.5mm jack , I can ! I can see the maker Realtek and the chip part number, clear as day. (and vast other names)
I can do a PCI-z scan to find it. (so very easy to do)
 
I can go in to HP BIOS , click F1 information page and see the full ABA# there , as seen here.

End bad drivers.
Next is what I call Brats did this.
See here how they killed your sound.  Some Dweeb , pushed ESC key at power on, (HP) then F10 and then clicked System configuration and last turn off sound features. I hope the solution is obvious.


For funs and giggles I turned off all 3 above arrow marked devices.
Windows sounds go dead.
I booted to linux Ubuntu 16.04.2 ran the sound tests and it fails.
Linux could not load the sound driver with BIOS sounds turned off, showing that PnP fails in Linux too.
Here are some linux commands to scan hardware like this.




This Buds for you? (what's a bud?)  That is a standard industry 3.5mm (USA 1/8" ) JACK/PLUG.
Plug this in to green jack or one marked Line-out.(phones)
The desktop jack is green ,
on a silly laptop the jacks most times are only black and have only words there, but all desktops are green jacks. (only laptops buck that rule)
 (mic = microphone, spk = speaker ,on my HP no words at all, just icons engraved, as head phone icon and 1 microphone icon, so insert the phones in to the icon shown as phones)
Be advised some huge head phone (3.5mm) may sound weak, and this is normal, due to the weak output of the sound chip.
As a rule buds always work but huge phones that are very inefficient will be weak. (3.5mm jack , I and not talking about USB phones at all here)
We test with BUDs first, because they always work. (for this very weak signal)




SAY External speakers are dead ONLY  :
There are many kinds of speaker systems , (even USB, bluetooth , Wifi and even ethernet and more) But these 2 are what I will cover and are simple )
Passive and ACTIVE Speakers..
The first PASSIVE   are only seen on very custom systems, using  most times this DAC module as  starting point.
Passive speakers, (below is  neat speaker component, seen in the  casing (enclosure box) is missing below, is just voice coil inside, at 8 ohms (AC ohms not DC ohms) and the example below is wimpy speaker, 0.5 watts.
The word Passive mean with NO AMP , and Active means with AMP.  (the signals are very weak in any PC so need and AMP no matter what you do )
The Passive speakers have 2 naked wires, most times  black and one read are are polarized.  Red to Plus + is the rule.

Active speakers most commone have inside the enclosurean Audio Amplifier and is characterized by the fact that the connection to it  (sound) used, Phone jacks or Phono jacks, and there is a line power cord, either to AC power or to a wall wart power pack.
If you  see and AC or DC power jack or cord, it has and AMP and is ACTIVE speakers.

Passives speakers have no AMP and only have a naked, raw speaker inside of ANY SIZE, the below is a dinky do speaker (toy grade)
 
This is a real  Passive speaker they come in sizes 1" to over 18"inches,  and your PC sound chip can not operate this device, direct drive at all, it must have an AMP added.
That sound card or chip in your PC is not designed to power up and run any kind of RAW passive speaker.
The 3.5mm (1/8") phone jack as seen above in the Buds, has only 0.3v rms output max (99% of PCs, or 2v max if you have a professional grade added sound card like what ASUS sells. (PCI-e)

 The average home PC only does 10 milliwatts, (0.01 watts is weak) (about 0.3volts rms MAX) [this is Pre_Amp out not , any high powered amp)
Pro grade sound card can do 1.3v (rms) out. (4 times loader but dead weak still) and can drive 100-300 ohm PC 3.5mm head phones, but not 8ohm phones used on home stereo systems for over 50 years now.(hifi became stereo then)
The PRO Sound cards can hump out, 2v (rms) max.  a weak 1/2w (0.5) watts in to 8 ohms ,  and as you can see would drive the below speaker fully. But Most (99%) of sound cards (chips) overload in to 8 ohms, so.... fails.
The Sound card/chips output is always spec'd out as in to 600 ohm standard audio circuits (called LINE OUT) Some card are limted to 30ohm minimum loads or have special pro grade head phone jacks (I will not cover those)
If you use speaker or phones with 8 ohms voice coils inside (as seen below ) the sound is near impossible to hear. (needs and AMP it does) yes can be heard, ear placed close by,, but super weak output.
The speaker is called A WIRED speaker, or PASSIVE or even  sonic transducer (scientist named)
When inserted in to a speaker cabinet /box/ enclosure it is just  speaker, if the coil lugs seen below read infinity OHMS with a meter the coil inside is burned up.  (4 ohms ohms is common with  DMM meter)
 
This is an electro-magnetic acoustic speaker element device (this one is toy grade)  the lugs are the voice coil  + & -

To the average  consumer there are only 4 classes of speakers (besides quality and power)
  • USB
  • Passive  (like photo above)
  • ACtive. (powered amp speaker) Lets forget all I typed above, most folks never use Passive speakers ever, but is the best option, for many reason, (you can use standard pro grade amps and huge speakers)
  • Wireless (Bluetooth or WiFi)
Shopping for used speakers saves money and if you just gander at it , one can tell in a jiffy what is there.(or missing)
What you see is just black box or wood box with a grill.
What I see  inside and the wires and all jacks on the box.
If I see 2 very naked bare wires there , this is a PASSIVE speaker(s)  , just old speakers off and old 1980s hifi stereo or off most home theater systems.  (some are terrific sounding with a better AMP)
In most cases the label if marked 4 ohms or 8 or 16 ohms (8 is most common) that means it's PASSIVE . (inside can be crossover coils or the like)
IFthere is a USB jack then its a smart USB speaker set.
If the back has power jack it's abd ACTIVE speakers. (called in most cases A PC speaker set, and in most cases pretty poor sounding but with subwoofer sounds better)
If the back has RCA jacks , this can be either type class., I must look where the wires go, to and AMP or directly to the 2 lugs seen above on the speaker, called voice coil connectors.
If the jacks RCA say 4 or 8 or 16ohms this is a PASSIVE. (if no AC or DC jacks there, this is a PASSIVE SPEAKER, FOR SURE.
If the 2 wires go to a crossover network this too is PASSIVE and the cabinet has 2 or 3 speakers inside. (AND NO POWER CORDS)
Passive speakers may have naked wires, or 2 gold twist on lugs, or 2 spring operated lugs.
One way to get good speakers is to buy the naked cabinets or ones with dead speakers then go to mouser.com or any top seller of quality speakers and upgrade the box. (passive speaker upgrades)
This plate (naked) is marked 8 ohms so is Passive. You can find used huges speakers that sound super great and use and AMP to make any of them work perfectly.

Note the 8 ohms marked here, and 2 lugs bottom center, this is a passive speaker, no amp. Passive speakers no AC power no AMP.
Again PASSIVE speakers do not work on any PC 3.5mm jack.
Old speakers, and funky screws , Passive. Zip cords are always ok.
Next up is Active speakers, means with AMP.  The AC cord is the big clue here!
This
speaker is ACTIVE AC cord seen or say a 12vdc power pack walwart , screams ACTIVE SPEAKER HERE.

The above speaker clearly has RCA jacks there and are line inputs, that would work with my DAC. (or any PC made)
In most cases all passive speakers are marked, ohm's.  And will fail connected to any line_out , phone jacks..
Tricks of the trade?
Convert  it to passive?, in all cases,   I can convert Active speakers to Passive, with 30 minutes work. (for use in home theater  Recievers)
(just wires and soldering iron/pencil or station)
(I cut the wires to the speaker inside and wire up  a new speaker added jack or just run zip wire  from speaker to drilled hole in case rear.)
To convert any passive speaker to ACTIVE you ripped off say  from some home theater, system, Is easy , buy  a 2 channel stereo amp of any kind.


This is what most folks have on there PC,  sold everwhere,
REAL ACTIVE speakers with hidden inside , AMPLIFIER (AMP)
The other classes of Active speakers are USB speakers, that run totally off one USB cable. (not seen here)
See the DC power jack there, bingo for Active speakers, for PC.
Here are the real speakers, like these Labtec Pulse 325 below. (sub woofer class, and sound super good)
Rule 1: The presence of RCA jacks does not prove ACTIVE speakers, only AC or DC  power does, as does volume or tone/bass controls and  power switch.
The power pack plugs center rear, if missing power pack? the speakers will be dead.

If you plug the orange 3.5mm  plug above into the  MIC jack (bam)  the speakers will be Dead use the Green SPK (phones/line out ) jack only.
The Speaker must have power (AC/DC) and a amplifier inside or there will be no sounds. (sorry)

A custom sound setup: (one way to use PASSIVE speakers is to buy and start with this device) (you need 3 things, DAC/AMP/Speakers)
THE DAC:  (some have super good sounds)
One can abandon his or her  sound card and wire up a discrete sound system for there PC.  (we shut the sound down in Device manager , disable inside the PC)
You buy  USB DAC box . Seen next.. (DAC means a Digial Audio converter)  Analog audio in, and dac converted to digital.

This is the PWM sound decoder, that has USB input and 2 or 3 RCA phone jacks out.

The USB plugs in to the REAR jack to PC, then the 2 , front RCA Jacks (L/R) are plugged into any Audio Amp you want, using industry standard RCA line cables. (this device below needs USB driver and DAC driver to work)
This device performs  Digital to Analog conversion, DAC it's called.
One advantage of the below device is it that it is not exposed to all that inside PC clocking noise, (huge) and also uses its own internal clock(quietly) that prevents sound jitter, windows is a really poor DAC, do to Windows can not run real time code on the DAC, Windows is a pre-preemptive multitasking OS, (unlike say DOS) Windows makes  very poor DAC.
The second advantage beside better ALAC music is you can now pick what sub components are best for you, the amp and the speakers (more choices) for quality of sound or upgrades at any time, from a better choice of speakers
I have real 1970s ALtec Lansing speaker, that I had to RE-CONE by my self ( a skill set learned in 1965) In My  opinion some of the best low cost speaker cabinets were made in the 70s. 
(re-cone them or new top end speakers elements added)
This is the DAC module.  (Folks that love better sounds buy and use this device, (or the link kind) connected to real audio sound systems, as seen below,  there is no ends to better sound.
DAC The 2 Line out here are 300mV to your power amp.
Connect the above to the below via RCA cables. (sold at any Audio store or eBay) The sounds from this device are amazing. (buy one try it) I am not saying this is the best DAC, there are many some with built in Subwoofer jacks.
Then Connect the AMP outputs to real PASSIVE speakers.  (works with any passive speaker made from small to giant sized, note this AMP has Sub woofer driver out, too.)
Endless choices of amps even as old as 1980s made.

The above takes the max of  0.3v RMS audio line outputs from a PC or from the DAC and increases (Amps up) the levels to 20v or 67 times increase (full  volume)
 The voltage out is 67 times more than the input.(max) due to the magic if a powerful Audio Amplifier inside.
Math for that is V = square root of  R X W  (R=8, W=50) 
You need 50watt speaker at the smallest size. 100watt be best. (IMO)
I run this old CLASS-A amp, from Kenwood, it has no custom chips, and can be repaired forever, but I never seen one fail, ever. (this amp has no crossover distortion at all , CLASS "A" is the BEST)
 (I have 2 of these amps one is garage amp for my DVD MP3 deck)    This thing can blow windows off there frames, or eardrums. The power spec on this is RMS power (means TRUE POWER and is not a lie)  Circa 1980, (I have 2)


Jargon used on Sound devices for decades. (and more)
First is the GREEN mini-phone JACK seen on all  DESKTOP PCs (Laptops will show earphones words or ICON or words line-out)
 Those are all 3.5mm (1/8") phone jacks, They are called PHONE because they shunk the old Ma Bell Telephone 1/4" phone jacks to this size in the 1960s or sooner. (aka as stereo mini phone jacks) GREEN is LINE OUT.

Some PCs have front rear and center out jacks. (I only cover 2 channel sound here Left and Right.) Mini Phone jacks these are called.

Next up and below, ares RCA PHONO jacks, used first by you guessed it RCA for there RCA turn tables (record player, decks for say your disk jockey)
The word PHONO means , PhonoGraph. (not phone as in TELEPHONE)  RCA made turn tables in the early days 1950 for  HiFI, with one jack mono out. Thus the name RCA.
The RCA jacks will be seen on real Amplifiers and on the DAC module on this page.
  these on the left plug in to those seen on the left. These are sold even with double shields for less noise.
These jacks are all LINE jacks, Line-IN, and Line-out, and means 600 ohm impedance and 300mV signals max.
All cables are COAX to prevent noise and for sure 60 Hz line hum noise found in every home.
Even better are double shielded coax cables, Zero hum pickup.
The 3.5mm PHONE plug , looks like this new below is a High Quality version, with Gold. (some on the USA call this plug below 1/8" inch , stuck with Imperial measurements forever)
As rule 2.5mm are not used on PC, but are on some MP3 players or Camera's and other things, even Cell phones, old PDA, etc.
There are 3 circuits here, tip, ring and sleeve(TRS) , the sleeve is always ground  the tip is left channel , center ring is right channel;
This is Tech talk now, for those doing custom things, or wondering why specs are so vague (do not read  this if easily bord)

This is  also line out, on the green jack this 99% of the time sends 300mV (0.3v rms) to the speaker amps or to phone head or bugs. 
Head Phones,  2 common types exist, 30 ohm and 300,  the latter work better as does sound card with 600 ohm source impedance or less.
Many new sound cards have  powerful driver for phones, instead of the line-out usaged  so common.
By tradition in Audio impedance is  600 ohm, so voltages are rated to that load.
The 3.5mm best impedance is different, that is because it needs to power passive copper voice coil head phones, 32 to 300 ohms. (typ) 
In electronics, if you match impedances the maxiumum energy is transfered. (source Z = to load Z)Z is impedance, a mix of mostly resistance and inductance at audio frequencies.
 Equation :Impedance Z = R or XLor XC(if only one is present) then Z = √(R2 + X2) Xc , is not important at audio signal rates.(Hz)
When you see signals stated in dBm this means 600 ohm loads, for all audio work this was standardized by Ma Bell, in the early days of telephone, and the impedances  seen then  on 1 mile runs of telephone wires.
The Impedance is at a fixed frequency, A-weighted, or 1khz tone or 440Hz spec. because Z varies  from 20 Hz to 20k Hz.   (some just average it in the human hearing range)
Sound cards the Line out is anywhere from 100 ohms to 10,000,  300 is very common and works best with 300 ohm head sets. (100 to 600 is ideal)  ( as you can see , sound jacks have loose specs)
Many sound cards use a simple OP-AMP chip to drive this line.
The famous 741 op_amp has 75ohm output impedance by itself, so some makers use a 10k resistor in series and other uses 250  or 330 ohms total out. Read your spec on your card, of the 1000s made.
I see ASUS (tm) has  card that has a switch for <=32 ohms and over 32ohms. 
This only matters (ohms worry) with headphones never amps. (also head phones come with many different voice coil ohm specifications.  32 or even 1000 ohms are common)
If your sound card has 1000 ohm source impedance (ohms) , and your phones are 32,  you will have weak sound (this is because 32 more times more signal stays in the card and not across the voice coils (ohms laws in a series circuit dictates this fact)
Lets say on high volume it's 300mV output of the cards OP-AMP. instead of getting 1/2 that to the phones you get, 10mv on the voice coils.  E= I x R. It is .0003 amps .  You lose. (weak sound)
But on the other hand if both are 32 or close, they will be very load phones.  (a 150mV signal) (the exception is always possible if the phones are cheap very inefficient types)
In most cases the High Z phones are best, 1000 ohms,  (16 ohms to 600 is  common range offered, pick the 600s)
Low Z phones are made to be driven by  powerful amp directly, (with a volume setting)
High Z phones are best used on any PC made with line out jackswith 1000 ohm output impedance,
What matters most are 2 things, the efficiency of the head phones, and sound quality.
Some sound cards have extra jacks 1 for line out 1000 ohm impedance  is best, for line out and one jack for phones, that is 32ohm source impedance that drives most phone hard and loud. (32 ohms is Low Z)
Best of all are ear buds, they work in all cases.  (best for testing not  sound  quality)
My BUDs are 32 ohms (Z) and sound load with 300mV signal as they are low mass voice coils ,unlink large head phones that have huge magnets inside (large mass) and need vastly more power to sound good.



OSD: Monitor Volume controls (On Screen Display) the Monitor has brain and you talk to it)
Some have front panel Volumn up and down, look for them
Cheaper or older monitors you must play inside the OSD as seen below,. Not only can be monitor AMP be tuned off muted, but the slider set to 0  ends all sounds, until you fix that.
Asus monitor.

ViewSonic

Not covered here and totally different solutions and hardware software are:  (there are just too many classes of devices for me to cover)
There are many classes of sound devices today, (not just 1 chip on the motherboard)
This is year 2018 not 1989. (non of the below existed in 1989)
  1. ALL USB HEAD PHONES. ( needs custom driver software to work and most are missing in the PNP Microsoft driver catalog SERVERS)
  2. ALL USB SPEAKERS.  (did you try all USB ports first (try both the USB2 and 3 ports would be wise now) and test the DEVICE failing on another good PC? next)?
  3. USB DAC.  (I have this on my one Gaming PC)
  4. USB Dongle sound device.(see next photo below)
  5. ALL BLUETOOTH speakers or head phones.
  6. Wifi remote speakers ( I have this for the 2 rear channels of my 7.1 Sound card. )
  7. Even Ethernet wired speakers exist, now.
  8. HDMI sound, with the HDMI cable , this uses the Video cards HDMI sound chip, and not the main sound chip in the PC.
  9. Optical sound ports or  S/PDIF or TOSLink.

Each of these classes of sound devices  need there own software drivers to work. (if Microsoft Windows fails to find, them using its PnP plug and pray methods, then  ask the maker of these custom devices for there support software and load it now.
Learn that Microsoft even warns you they have no support for many devices in this above list.
The most difficult can be USB headphones. (MS has  stated warning about these on there support web site)
USB sound drivers can also get in  fight with  the main sound drivers, and cause huge problems (even NOISE). (to prove this just unplug that USB device there, a Sound making device)
If you upgraded to W10 on an old  PC you will find the sound chip dead, ( yes, there are more dead chips than ones that work now) So you buy this and it works.  There is even $2 dongles sold with 2 channels only, dirt cheap.(newegg.com)
To use  this device, best is to turn off the sound chip on the main motherboard, using BIOS.









Top causes of sound failures, is a wrong driver.
Upgrading to W10 on old PCs  (there are many PCs with old Intel sound chips that will never ever run on W10)
Not asking your OEM if you can upgrade to W10, oops, ever think of asking first.  (most will tell you , expect some chip to be dead, (sound/wifi/ethernet even video)
Loading drivers from scaplers web sites, that charge you money or claim to have a driver that does not exist or is only sending you a payload of malware or a nasty virus.
Note learning what sound chip you have onboard, learn that series class of notbook might have 5 sound chip option when new.  Guessing wrong, you get a dead or acting odd sound chip.
Some folks get confused, and try to run XP driver on W10,  DOOMED. 

 
On any desktop this is easy fix get a new sound card or buy a USB sound dongle device above,  that has sound chip inside and a 3.5mm  green jack for your external powered speakers or your headphones/earbuds.
Learn that many sound chip makers ended support at XP or VISTA for THAT CHIP. Super common is this issue today.  (no driver any where on mother earth)
 (sound tops the list of dead , then we see  wifi , then Ethernet dead)

Learn to clearly and accurately identify you sound chip by makers name and chip number,  The the OS version and last a driver that matches both.
I run a scanner on any chip that is not supported by my OEM and is dead.


version 2.  9-9-2018