You want to play an audio or a video file and all of a sudden you find that there’s no sound. The first thing you usually check is, if the the volume is set at the right level and that’s when you find a red X mark on the speaker icon your taskbar. You must first check if you accidentally unmuted it and if clicking on it unmutes the sound. However, if you are unable to remove the icon through unmuting, the problem is something else.
Whether you are using your PC as a workstation for video calls and conferences, or for entertainment, like playing games/ watching movies/listening to music, it can be frustrating if the sound stops working. The system audio is one of the important aspects along with video and the sound failing to work can be annoying to the core.
The red X on volume icon in your Windows 10 PC can be either due to hardware corruption or due to an issue with the software. Some of the reasons why you may see this error are, when the audio device is corrupted or is not connected in the right manner, when the audio device stops working completely, when the audio drivers are not updated to the latest version, or the audio system is infected by virus or malware causing the issue.
Fortunately, there are a couple of possible solutions for this issue which we have listed in this post and may help fix the red X mark on the speaker icon on your Windows 10 PC. Let’s see how:
Method 1: Restart Windows Explorer
Sometimes the issue could be related to the Windows Explorer and simply restarting the process can help fix the issue:
Step 1: Right-click on your the Windows icon and select Task Manager.
Step 2: In the Task Manager window, under the Processes tab, go to the Windows processes section.
Step 3: Here, find and select Windows Explorer.
Press the Restart button below.
Now, close the Task Manager window, right-click on desktop and select Refresh.
Once done, check the sound icon on Taskbar and the red X mark is gone.
Method 2: Update the Audio Driver
The operating system may encounter issues while communicating with the sound device when the audio drivers get corrupted or are outdated. In such cases, updating the audio driver may help resolve the issue.
Step 1: Right-click on Start menu and select Run to open the Run command window.
Step 2: In the Run command, type devmgmt.msc in the search field and hit Enter to launch Device Manager.
Step 3: In the Device Manager window, go to the Sound video and game controllers section and expand it.
Right-click on audio device and select Update driver.
Step 4: Now, in the Update Drivers window, select Search automatically for drivers.
Windows will now start looking up for any available new updates and and if available, will finish updating it to the latest version automatically.
Now, restart your PC and the system sound should be working now.
Method 3: Through Sound Settings
In this method you must check if the Output and the Input audio device is set to the correct choices, and also check if the volume is set to audible level. Here’s how to check:
Step 1: Go to the Taskbar and on the right side, right-click on the speaker icon.
Select Sound settings from the menu.
Step 2: In the Sound Settings window, go to the right side and select Sound.
Step 3: Under the Output section > Choose where to play sound, check if it’s set to the default Speakers.
If not, select the Speakers option from the drop-down.
Step 4: Now, return to Sound Settings window and on the right side, go to the Input section > Choose a device for speaking or recording.
Here, check if it’s set to Microphone.
If not, set it to Microphone.
Step 5: Next, check if the Volume is set to maximum for both the Output device and the Input device.
If not, set it to maximum.
Now, exit the Settings window and check if the red X mark on the speaker icon is gone.
Method 4: Run Windows Audio troubleshooter
When any issues with the system audio, it’s wise to run the Windows audio troubleshooter to start with. If looks up for any issues and if found, fixes them on the spot. Let’s see how to run the audio troubleshooter:
Step 1: Press the Win + I keys together on your keyboard to launch the Settings app.
Step 2: In the Settings window, click on System.
Step 3: On the right side, click on Troubleshoot.
Step 4: Now, go to the right side of the window, scroll down and click on Other trouble-shooters.
Step 5: In the next window, under the Most frequent section, select Playing Audio and click on the Run button.
Windows will now start checking for any issues with the audio device and if any found, it will fix the issue automatically.
Now, close the Settings window and the sound issue should be resolved.
Method 5: Disable and Enable the Audio Device in the Device Manager
There are times when the audio driver may hang while communicating with the device, and that’s when it needs to be restarted. As you restart the audio device, it should work normally again. Let’s see how to restart the audio device:
Step 1: Right-click on Start and select Device Manager.
Step 2: In the Device manager window, navigate to the Sound, video and game controllers option.
Expand the section, right-click on the audio driver and select Disable device.
Step 3: Repeat the Step 2 for any other audio devices in the list.
Step 4: Now, right-click on the audio devices one by one and select Enable device for each of them.
Now, reboot your PC and the red X mark on the audio icons should disappear and it should work fine now.
Method 6: Use Add Legacy Hardware to Fix Audio Issue
When updating or restarting the audio driver does not work, you can try to revert your audio device to the old hardware, however, installing the old hardware means that it does not support plug and play. But, it can fix the audio issue. Follow the below instructions:
Step 1: Press the Win + R hotkeys to open the Run command box.
Step 2: In the Run command search field, type devmgmt.msc and press OK.
Step 3: This will open the Device Manager window.
Here, select the Sound, video and game controllers option.
Now, click on the Action tab at the top and select Add legacy hardware.
Step 5: In the Add Hardware wizard, click Next.
Step 6: Next, select the radio button next to Search for and install the hardware automatically (Recommended) and press Next.
Step 7: In the next window, look for the Sound, video and game controllers tab and press the Next button.
Step 8: Now, select the correct sound card of the correct brand and model and press Next.
Step 9: Complete installing the related driver and click Finish.
Step 10: Now, return to the Device Manager window, right click on the Sound, video and game controllers option and select Enable device.
Now, reboot your PC and check if the red X mark still exists.
Method 7: Fix the Audio Driver – Uninstall and Reinstall the drivers
If reverting the device to legacy hardware does not fix the issue, you can try uninstalling and re-installing the drivers. Let’s see how:
Step 1: Press the Win + X keys together on your keyboard and select Run.
Step 2: This will open the Run command window.
Here, type devmgmt.msc in the search box and hit OK.
Step 3: In the Device Manager window that opens, navigate to Sound, video and game controllers and expand the section.
Now, right-click on the audio device and select Uninstall device.
Step 4: Next, in the Uninstall Device dialogue box, check the box next to Delete the driver software for this device.
Then, press Uninstall again to finish the process.
Now, restart your PC and the latest version of the driver should be automatically installed.
The red X mark on the audio icon should be gone now and the sound on your system should be back up and running.
Method 8: Check If the Audio Service is Running
If any of the Windows audio services are not running, that can also be one of the reasons why you see the red X mark on the audio icon. In such a case, you have to make sure that the audio service is running to check if it removes the red X mark and the sound is working again:
Step 1: Right-click on Start and select Run to launch the Run command.
Step 2: In the search box, type services.msc and hit Enter to open the Service Manager.
Step 3: In the Services window, on the right side of the pane, look for the below services under the Name column:
Windows Audio Windows Audio Endpoint Builder
Step 4: Now, go to the Windows Audio service and if under the Status on its right shows Running, right-click on it and click on Stop.
Step 5: Once its stopped, right-click on it again and select Start.
Step 6: Now, go to the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service and repeat the Steps 4 and 5 to restart the service.
Now, exit the Services window, restart your PC and the sound problem on your device should be fixed.
Method 9: Using the Sound Properties
Step 1: Press the Win + R leys together on your keyboard to pen the Run command.
Step 2: In the Run command search field, type mmsys.cpl and press Enter to open the Sound control panel.
Step 3: In the Sound properties dialogue box that opens, under the Playback tab, select the main speakers of your system and select Set as Default Device.
Press Apply and then OK to save the changes and exit.
Restart your PC for the changes to be applied and your sound problem should be resolved now.
Method 10: Use Windows Update
Sometimes, the audio issues may arise if you have missed updating the crucial Windows Update. Therefore, make sure that you install any pending updates to keep your system up-to-date and this may keep the audio device problem-free.
Step 1: Right-click on Start and select Settings.
Step 2: In the Settings app that opens, select Windows Update on the left.
Step 3: It takes you straight to Now, go to the right side and click on Check for updates.Windows Update page in the Settings window.
Step 4: If any updates found, click on Download and Install to complete the download process.
Windows will then automatically install the update.
Once done, close the Settings window, restart your PC for the update to be applied and now check if the red X mark still appears on the sound icon.
Method 11: Registry Fix
When none of the above method works, you can try editing the registry settings and this may help fix the sound issue on your system. Here’s how to make the changes:
Step 1: Press the Win + R keys together on your keyboard to open Run command.
Step 2: In the Run command window, type regedit in the search field and press OK to pen the Registry Editor window.
Step 3: In the Registry Editor window, navigate to the below path:
Now, right-click on the MMDevices key and select Permissions.
Step 4: In its Permissions window, check the Full Control > Allow boxes for SYSTEM, Administrator and the User.
Press Apply and then OK to save changes and exit.
Now, close the registry editor, reboot your PC and now try playing an audio or video file to check if the sound is working properly now.
Step 5 – Now again navigate to the following registry key:
Step 6 – Repeat the step 3 and 4 to give full control to Admin, user, and SYSTEM.
*Note – Before you make any changes to the Registry Editor settings, make sure that you create a backup of the registry data, so that, you can recover any data that you may lose during the process.
Additionally, you can double-check if your audio hardware is compatible with your system through this path:
Start > Right-click > Device Manager > Audio inputs and outputs > Speaker > right-click > Properties > General tab > check Device status.
It should say “This device is working properly“.
Besides, you can try adjusting the system volume, or restart your system a few times to check if it helps fix the issue. If none of the methods in this post work, you may consider replacing the sound card.
I find passion in writing Tech articles around Windows PC and softwares