This FAQ has an Introduction followed by 12 sections 1. Basic Un-install & Re-installation 2. How to Find and Delete the Driver Files 3. Download a Fresh Copy of the Driver Files 4. Download an Older Version of the Driver 5. How to Fix a "File Not Found" Error When Downloading the Audio Driver 6. How to Install the Generic Audio Driver 7. How to Install the Audio Driver After Re-installing the Operating System 8. You Installed Windows 7 But Can't Find a 7 Version of Your HD Audio Driver 9. You Installed Windows 7 But Can't Find a 7 Version of Your AC97 Audio Driver10. You Installed Windows Vista But Can't Find a Vista Version of Your AC97 Audio Driver11. You Installed Windows XP But Can't Find an XP Version of Your Audio Driver12. Crystal Drivers for Inspirons 8200 & 2650, Latitude C840, Precision M50 & Others
IntroductionThe audio driver is a piece of software that forms the link between the audio hardware on the motherboard (the audio codec) and the operating system. Often the driver is the cause of problems. It might be not installed, incompletely installed, or corrupted. To diagnose a defective audio driver, uninstall & reinstall it and then try to use your audio again. To tell if a driver is not installed at all, open the Device Manager and look for its name. Also notice if the settings are grayed out in the Audio Properties (but note that the bass & treble controls are normally grayed out.)It is important to note that if you have re-installed your operating system, there are special rules to follow when installing the audio driver. If you have recently re-installed your operating system then go directly to Section 7 below.
1. Basic Un-install & Re-installation
2. How to Delete the Driver FilesIf that doesn't help then it could be that the driver files on the hard drive are corrupted, so download new files. But first you should delete the old driver files from your hard drive. Here are 2 methods for doing that.
[The reason you might have to go through the process more than once is because the driver files for more than one Realtek (or IDT, Sigmatel, or Conexant) driver could be on the hard drive. When a Realtek (or IDT, Sigmatel, or Conexant) driver is removed, the next one gets installed if Windows can locate the files. Windows installs its generic driver only after all Realtek files have been removed.]
Here is the other method:
Go to this location on your hard drive c:\dell\drivers\Expand all folders and sub-folders there. Delete all folders that have a sub-folder named "WDM". Those will be the audio driver folders and it is safe to delete them. If they are not deleted Windows will re-use them to build the audio driver.
The 2nd method is the better one if Windows XP is the operating system.
3. Download a Fresh Copy of the Driver FilesNext download a new audio driver package from your computer's driver downloads page. To get to your page enter either your Service Tag or the model name of your laptop. When you arrive on your page first check the operating system dropdown box and make sure that your OS is selected. Then expand the 'Audio' category and download the audio driver named Sigmatel, IDT, or Realtec. Do not download anything named "Creative Labs" at this time. Next, unzip the files and install the driver. When you unzip the files they will be unpacked by default to a new folder on the hard drive at c:\dell\drivers\Rxxxxxx -- similar to the one you deleted except that it will have fresh files and it will be the newest version of the driver if you did not already have that version.
Dell has step-by-step instructions for downloading a driver at How to Use the Drivers and Downloads Website
4. Download an Older Version of the DriverThe audio driver that is on the downloads page in the Audio category is by default the current version (the newest one even though it might be years old). If you would rather try an older version, click on the driver's name on the left side of the page, not on the "download" link on the right side. You will go to the driver's page. Look for the words "other versions" and click on it to go to a page with links to all of the older audio drivers that were offered for your laptop model and operating system.
5. How to Fix a "File Not Found" Error When Downloading the Audio Driver
See the faq named Dell Download Manager Problem
6. How to Install the Generic Audio DriverIn addition to the driver that is meant for your specific computer, there is also a generic driver within Windows that is sometimes useful to try just because it is a different driver, but it may not have all of the features of the regular driver.Vista and 7 both have a generic HD driver. To install you must follow the instructions in Section 2 above for deleting all of the audio driver files from the hard drive (all folders that have a subfolder named "WDM"). If any are left then Windows will reinstall them, but if they are all gone then when you reboot Windows will install the generic driver. Note that an HD driver will not work if you have an older computer with AC97 audio (Inspiron 9300 and all previous models).XP has a generic Intel AC97 driver. Note that an AC97 driver will not work if you have a laptop with HD audio (any Dell laptop newer than the Inspiron 9300). To install it follow these instructions:> Open the Device Manager. Go down to Sound, Video and Game controllers and right click on SigmaTel (the AC97 models do not have IDT or Realtec). Choose properties. (Or instead, right click on the speaker icon, click on Adjust Audio Properties, click on the Hardware tab, select SigmaTel, and click Propertties.)> Click on the Driver tab and click on Update Driver. The Hardware Update Wizard will open.> Answer "No" to the Windows Update connection question.> Choose "Install From List or specific location". Ignore the 'Insert CD' instruction.> Hit next and then choose "Don't Search, I will choose driver I want to install".> You will get a list of SigmaTel drivers. Uncheck the box that says "show compatible hardware".> Select Intel, and then select "Intel AC 97 Audio Controller". XP replaces the SigmaTel driver with the Intel AC97.> To reinstall the original driver later just go back to Properties and select "Rollback Driver".To summarize, XP does not have a generic HD audio driver, so if you have XP on any Dell laptop newer than the Inspiron 9300 model you cannot use the generic driver in XP. Only the one in Vista or 7 will work on those models. Conversely, Vista & 7 do not have a generic AC97audio driver.
7. How to Install the Audio Driver After Re-installing the Operating SystemIf there is no audio after reinstalling Windows it is usually because the drivers were not installed in the correct order. Often you will get an error message, because the Notebook System Software and chipset drivers were not installed correctly and the audio chip on the motherboard is not recognized. In this situation "usually" a fresh install of the OS is not required, just re-installing the NSS and chipset correctly. If that doesn't work then a full re-installation may be necessary. [Note that if you re-installed the operating system by using "PC Restore" or "Factory Image Restore" you do not need to re-install the drivers because they were included in the restoration image. This is the best method of re-installing the OS because you avoid all of the problems that can occur when installing the drivers.]Go to your driver downloads page and use the dropdown box there to select your Operating System. Install in this order:a. Dell Notebook System Software (on your downloads page expand the System Utilities category). Download, install and restart.b. Intel Mobile Chipset software (expand the Chipset category). Download, install and restart.(Models with AMD cpu use the AMD processor driver.) c. Install the drivers including the audio driver (expand the Audio category). Install only the Crystal, Sigmatel, IDT, or Realtec. If there is any Creative Labs or Audigy software in your Audio category do not install it before the regular audio drivers are installed and working properly. An attempt to install the Creative Labs software before the audio driver can cause Windows Audio Service to permanently shut down. Notes:On the downloads page you will see the terms "optional" and "recommended". These terms are guidelines for when you are updating a driver. They do not apply to the situation described here when you are installing drivers after a fresh Windows installation, so ignore them for now.Windows XP SP1 should be upgraded to SP2 before installing the audio driver, but SP 2 may require that the UAA hotfix be installed. Get it from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/888111. Windows XP SP3 already has the UAA hotfix.If there are problems with the downloaded drivers and if you have the original OS reinstallation disc & the drivers utility disc, I would install from those instead of downloading, because those will have the same configuration combination that is known to work on your computer (the same configuration that was on the computer when it was new) then after the audio is working you can go online to update the drivers if necessary.
For more details on the driver order, see Dell's article How to Download and Install Drivers in the Correct Order.
8. You Installed Windows 7 But Can't Find a 7 Version of Your HD Audio DriverIf you installed 7 on a laptop with HD audio (all of the models not more than 6 or 7 years old) and there is not an audio driver available for 7, you should use the Vista version and install by using Vista compatibility mode. Follow the instructions in Sections 2 & 3 above for deleting all driver files and downloading a fresh copy. When you get on your driver downloads page select "Vista" in the dropdown box. Download the Vista version of your audio driver and extract the files (unzip or unpack and make a note of the name of the folder that is created) but cancel the installation process. Go to the folder on the hard drive to which you unpacked the driver filesc:\Dell\Drivers\Rxxxxxx (If you don't know which folder, it is the one with a subfolder named "WDM".)
Find the setup.exe file and right click on it. Select the Properties. Find the compatibility tab and select Vista.
On the XPS M1330 & M1530, and Inspiron 1525, reportedly you can install the IDT R226903 Win 7 audio driverFollow the instructions in Sections 2 above for deleting all driver files and then restart the laptop. Go into Device Manager to the audio controller (under "Sound, Video, and Game Controllers"). Right click on it and chose to update the driver. Choose to manually find the driver and don't let Windows look for it. Browse to c:\Dell\drivers\R226903 then click "Next".When you restart the laptop Windows will detect your audio hardware and install the IDT driver.
9. You Installed Windows 7 But Can't Find a 7 Version of Your AC97 Audio DriverIf you installed 7 on one of these older models:
Inspiron 1200, 2200, 6000, 9200, 9300Latitude 110L, D410, D510, D610, D810, X1XPS Gen 2, M170Precision M20, M70
Follow the instructions in Sections 2 above for deleting all driver files and downloading a fresh copy. Download the Sigmatel audio driver R99254. (This driver works for 2000, XP, & Vista32, and will work in 7 by installing it using Vista compatibility mode.)Extract the files (unzip or unpack) but cancel the installation process. Go to the hard drive to: c:\Dell\Drivers\R99254
*****************************************************************If you installed 7 on one of these older models:
Inspiron 300m, 500m, 510m, 600m, 700m, 710m, 1100, 1150, 5100, 5150, 5160, 8500, 8600, 9100XPS/Inspiron XPSLatitude 100L, D400, D500, D505, D600, D800, X300Precision M60
Follow the instructions above but down load the Sigmatel audio driver R90698
10. You Installed Windows Vista But Can't Find a Vista Version of Your AC97 Audio DriverIf you installed Vista on one of these older models:
Follow the instructions in Sections 2 above for deleting all driver files and downloading a fresh copy. Download the Sigmatel audio driver R99254. (This driver works for 2000, XP, & Vista32.)Extract the files (unzip or unpack) but cancel the installation process. The files will unpack to a folder on the hard drive at c:\Dell\drivers\R99254, and that folder will have a subfolder named WDM.Open the Device Manager and expand System devices near the bottom. Find the PCI Device entry with a ? next to it (or if that is not there then look for "Multimedia Audio Controller") . Right click on the name and select "Properties", then choose to update the driver. Choose to manually find the driver and don't let Windows look for it. Browse to c:\Dell\drivers\R99254\WDM.When you restart the laptop Windows will detect some new hardware and one of them will be the Sigmatel.
*****************************************************************If you installed Vista on one of these older models:
11. You Installed XP But Can't Find an XP Version of Your Audio DriverHere are some tips for specific models.
Inspiron 1318 Reportedly the older Sigmatel R153908 driver will work.First downloaded and install the current chipset from Intel's site:http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/inf/sb/cs-009266.htm
and then install the Sigmatel R153908 audio driver for XP.Inspiron 1410, and Vostro A840 & A860 1. Remove any audio driver you have installed (instructions in Section 2 above).2. Download and install Compaq sp32646.exe [Microsoft Universal Audio Architecture (UAA) Bus Driver for HD Audio]http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/softwareDownloadIndex?softwareitem=ob-45958-1&cc=us&lc=en&dlc=en&product=1817059or go to Microsoft article 888111 and follow a link within the article to where you request the UAA hotfix from Microsoft.http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/8881113. Download and install Conexant XP audio driver for Inspiron 1410: R192894 (126.96.36.199, A01) Inspiron 14201. Open Windows Explorer and go to c:\Dell\drivers\R171789 and delete the R171789 folder. That is the current version of your audio driver.2. Go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/888111 and get the UAA driver hotfix. Install it and restart the computer.3. Download R171789 again or re-use the previous download if you still have it..4. After it finishes extracting the files and begins to install, cancel.5. Open Device Manager and expand System devices near the bottom. Find the PCI Device entry with a ? next to it. Go to the properties and choose to update the driver. Choose to manually find the driver and don't let Windows look for it. Browse to c:\Dell\drivers\R171789\WDMWhen you restart the laptop Windows should detect some new hardware including the Sigmatel.Inspiron 1521 & 1721The Latitude D531 XP audio driver can be used for the Inspiron 1521 & 1721, and also the Conexant HDA modem and SM Bus drivers.Go to the D531 drivers downloads page.
a. Install Dell Notebook System Software (click the + sign next to System Utilities). Restart. (If this will not install then skip it.)b. Next and most important, install the AMD Processor Driver driver (click the + sign next to Chipset). Restart.c. Finally re-install the Sigmatel audio driver (click the + sign next to Audio). Restart. That is the current driver. If it does not work then use the older Sigmatel R153908 driver.Rarely there will still be a problem with the installation at this point (in XP). In those cases check in the Device Manager for a "PCI Device" with a yellow question mark next to it, under the "System Devices" grouping. Hit 'update driver' on that one, and it should find the driver. Note: If you install the R153908 but have a problem with the Windows Audio service not running, go to the hard drive to c:\Dell\Drivers\R153908\WDM and run the file names suhlp.exe. Vostro 1400 & 1500 & 1700 The Vostro 1500 XP drivers work for the Vostro 1400 & 1700:But first go to the Device Manager and find the unknown PCI device and delete it. Also, if you have XP Service Pack 2 install the Microsoft Universal Audio Bus Driver hotfix. You can get it from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/888111 Then install in the normal way:a. Dell Notebook System Software (click the + sign next to System Utilities). Restart.b. Next the Intel Mobile Chipset driver (click the + sign next to Chipset). The v1500 and v1400 use the same chipset. Restart.c. Finally install the Sigmatel audio driver (click the + sign next to Audio). Note: if the current driver does not work then use the older Sigmatel R158235 -- see Section 4 above for instructions on finding an older version.12. Crystal Drivers for Inspirons 8200 & 2650, Latitude C840, Precision M50 & OthersI have seen many posts from people who could not re-install the Dell supplied Crystal driver. The only solution I ever saw was from forum member Kamika007z who wrote, "If you ever upgraded the drivers from Dell downloads and try uninstalling it, there's no way of gettting the older drivers back. What happens is that the file wdma_int.inf in the c:\windows\inf\ hidden directory is deleted upon upgrading the newer drivers. Go here for the appropriate fix." http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=6349There is a zip file there that contains 2 small files. He wrote" "Download the zip File below and extract the files into your C:\Windows\INF folder and let Windows re-detect your sound card" and install an audio driver. I think he means that Windows will install the generic Intel AC97 audio driver that is built into Windows, not the Dell-supplied Crystal driver. But note that if there is some other reason the audio hardware cannot be detected then this fix will not work.
Jim Coates -- 12 year active forum member
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Thanks, I appreciate it.