Inspiron 1501 -- I have no sound! - Audio - Laptop - Dell Community

Inspiron 1501 -- I have no sound!


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Inspiron 1501 -- I have no sound!

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My laptop has been working pretty well these past two years....and then today I lost all sound.

I'm running Windows XE and in Control Panel I notice that all of my sound options are grayed out.  I have nothing.

On the dell website, I installed the SigmaTel Audio driver, and when the Wizard tries to instal it I get a message saying something like "the system does not support the driver you are trying to instal"

Any ideas from those of you that are smart?  Thanks!

All Replies
  • Did you try using System Restore to get the Registry back to a time before the problem first occurred? In XP, go to

    Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Restore
    and tick 'Restore my computer to an earlier time'. 


    Here are a few other possibilities:


    1. Could be the wrong driver. If you have XP it should be Sigmatel R171789 (


    2. The old driver could need to be cleaned out to ensure a clean new installation. Go to your hard drive
     c:\Dell\Drivers\R...(Sigmatel driver file name beginning with the letter R)
    and delete the folder(s). Only delete folders whose 'R' names correspond to a Sigmatel driver.  Then try to install the new version.


    3. The supporting software might need re-installing. From the 1501 downloads page, <ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>

    a. Install Dell Notebook System Software (expand the System Utilities category). Restart.

    b. Next install the AMD processor driver (expand the Chipset category). Restart.

    c. Install the Sigmatel audio driver.


    4. Go to Start/Run and type "services.msc" then hit the 'Enter' key (or click 'ok'). The Services window will appear. Scroll down until you find "Windows Audio" towards the bottom of the list. Check that it is enabled, set to automatic, and running. If it isn't, double click on it and change the Startup type to Automatic, then click Start, Apply, and OK.


    5. Go into the Device Manager and check that 'Plug and Play Software Device Enumerator' is installed and running. It will be listed alphabetically if there.


    6. In some models the modem can have an undetectable problem that prevents the audio from working properly. To test this you have to physically remove the modem, not just uninstall the driver. With the modem removed, try again to install the audio driver. If the audio works after removing the modem then you might need to replace it.


    7. A bad audio chip. Try running the audio test in Dell Diagnostics to check it. To run Diagnostics restart the computer and as soon as it starts to boot up tap f12. Select 'Diagnostic' from the boot menu. The computer will run its pre-boot assessment tests (PSA) before the Dell Diagnostic starts. The PSA tests play some beeps and tones through the system speaker but this doesn't test the rest of the audio hardware, so you still need to let Dell Diagnostics run after the PSA. Dell Diagnostics plays an instrumental piece of music complete with drums, so if you only hear some tones then you have only run the PSA.

    When Dell Diagnostics opens, select 'custom', then the audio test. This will test your audio system independently of Windows and drivers, meaning it doesn't matter if they are working correctly or not. If the audio test is not offered as an option under 'custom', that is a symptom of a dead chip.

    [If you have ever reformatted your hard drive then the Diagnostics partition might have been wiped off. If the Dell Diagnostics option fails to open, run it from the Drivers and Utilities (Resource) CD if you have one.]

    Dell Diagnostics will play some audio and ask you whether you heard it. If you answer 'no' then the test generates an error code that means you indicated you did not hear the sounds it played, but it doesn't and cannot pinpoint the exact component that has gone bad. If you don't hear the music during the test it definitely means there is a hardware failure somewhere in the system.

    If you do hear the audio that almost always means the hardware is okay but there is a problem with the software or configuration.

    Jim Coates -- 14th year on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

  • I also have an Inspiron 1501, thankfully still under extended warranty. Under advanced settings options, mine  is also grayed out and disabled. My  microphone doesn't work because the options in advanced settings are down to minimum sound and grayed out, and the sound is disabled.  I'm contacting Technical support.  As far as I'm aware, because the sound options are grayed out then Dell has to fix it.   It is impossible for me to move the settings bar as it is grayed out - disabled.  I have already had to return my Inspiron for Dell to fix it and they had to replace the hard drive.  I had my Inspiron only a few months.  Sounds like your sound is disabled in options.  Could be wrong, sounds like it to me and I'm no tech head.

    The option of contacting Technical support is there.  As the options are grayed out, they are disabled.  To enable the options, I dare say Dell has to fix the problem.  Try contacting technical support and see what they have to say - but, ask for the Manager, thats what I did last time and ask for the Manager's direct telephone number, don't muck around.  They have duty of care obligations to you, their client.

    Dell are not the easiest company to get appropriate assistance from either.  Hope you're Inspiron is still under warranty.  If not, hopefully there are some very technical minded people within this community.  Good luck.


  • Christinef,


    I agree with you the sentiments you have expressed, but the following statements are only correct under certain circumstances:


    "As far as I'm aware, because the sound options are grayed out then Dell has to fix it ... To enable the options, I dare say Dell has to fix the problem."


    You might have a special warranty that covers software problems but the standard Dell warranties only cover the hardware. There are some hardware failures that can result in the options being grayed out, but usually it is caused by a software problem (the audio driver becoming corrupted or not properly installed). In most cases Dell will have the customer reinstall the driver, perform diagnostic tests, and sometimes even reinstall the operating system, before they will conclude that the problem is caused by faulty hardware and thus falls under the warranty.


    " If not, hopefully there are some very technical minded people within this community."


    See my previous post in this thread.


    Jim Coates -- 14th year on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04