Fix distorted sound on Windows 10/11 in a few simple steps

by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
Aleksandar's main passion is technology. With a solid writing background, he is determined to bring the bleeding edge to the common user. With a keen eye, he always... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • You can experience distorted sound on Windows 10 after upgrading from an older version and that is a pretty common problem.
  • Reinstalling drivers is a very easy way to fix this so give it a shot first.
  • You can also try to use the sound troubleshooter from your OS to get things back to normal.
  • It doesn't hurt to check your audio hardware devices because updating your system might just be a simple coincidence.
Fix distorted sound on Windows 10

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Microsoft is presenting Windows 10 as an exquisite improvement over older Windows iterations. And it truly is an upgrade in many areas, but occasionally falls short in fundamentals.

To be precise, many users that upgraded from Windows 7 or 8, reported sound issues that include sound distortion, static, lackluster quality, and many other problems.

It’s needless to say that those sound problems occurred only in Windows 10 and that, allegedly, everything was performing well on the pre-upgraded system.

Luckily, no matter how complicated the problem is, there’s always a silver lining, you just need a correct approach.

For that purpose, we enlisted a few solutions that should relieve you of the trouble at hand and help you retrieve proper sound in Windows 10. Make sure to check them out below.

How can I fix distorted sound on Windows 10?

1. Reinstall drivers

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager.
  2. Navigate to Sound, video, and game controllers.
  3. Right-click on the sound device and open Properties.
  4. Open Details tab.
  5. Choose Hardware Ids from the drop-down menu.
  6. Copy the first value of drivers signature, paste it in a browser of your choice and google it.
  7. Open the official site and download the corresponding sound driver.
  8. Install it and restart your PC.

In scenarios when you’re 100% positive about hardware functionality, the first thing you should investigate is the sound driver.

There are some drivers that will work perfectly in their generic form, and they are provided by Windows Update.

On the other hand, there are GPU and sound drivers that can create a lot of problems if you decide to skip on the manual approach. Windows Update will install those, too.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking they will suffice. Now, they might prove fitting for some users. But, in case they don’t, you’ll know where to start your troubleshooting.

Follow the instructions above to download and install sound drivers from OEM’s manufacturer.

If that isn’t enough to get you past the problem, make sure to continue to the next step.

2. Update drivers

  1. Right-click Start, and from the Power User menu, run Device Manager.
  2. Scroll down to Sound, video, and game controllers.
  3. Right-click on your sound device and choose Uninstall device.distorted sound windows 10 disable device
  4. After the uninstall process is completed, restart your PC.
  5. Open Device Manager again.
  6. Click on the Scan for hardware changes icon.distorted sound windows 10 check for hardware changes
  7. Windows should automatically install fresh sound drivers.
  8. Restart your PC again and look for improvements.

This next solution is kind of contradictory, but then again, this is Windows we’re referring to. Namely, some users reported that the manual approach resulted in sound issues and distorted audio playback.

What they’ve done is more times than not the right thing to do, but, when things take a turn to peculiar, we need to change the approach in order to address this issue.

And the approach is as simple as they come. The steps above should show you what to do next.

In order to update drivers safely, we suggest you use a professional driver updater tool. Using a dedicated program you can save time and properly update all the drivers in need.

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3. Run Windows Audio Troubleshooter

  1. Open Start and click on the cog-like icon to open the Settings app.
  2. Choose Update & security.
  3. Select Troubleshoot in the left pane.
  4. Click on the Playing Audio to expand it.distorted sound windows 10 run the troubleshooter
  5. Click on the Run the troubleshooter button and follow the further instructions.

While we’re at it, the specified Audio Troubleshooter can come in handy, too. Drivers can work fine, and the sound output can still present an underwhelming experience with stutters, distortion, or low quality.

The Windows Audio Troubleshooting tool should, at least, give you an insight on the instigators of the problem. In a favorable scenario, it might resolve the issues, too.

If you’re not sure where to find Audio Troubleshooter, follow the steps above.

4. Inspect hardware

Now, what are the chances that something went wrong with the hardware just after you upgraded your OS? We would say minimal.

But, since the Windows troubleshooting is all about the detailed, meticulous approach and step-by-step system of elimination, you’ll need to check out everything. Just in case.

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So, make sure that everything is properly connected depending on the type of sound system you run. Basically, double-check speakers and triple-check sound cards.

The best way to do so is to connect your speakers to an alternative device and see for yourself. If the problem is present only on the current device, continue with the additional steps below.

If you need to replace your sound card, check out this list of the best sound cards to use on Windows 10.

5. Disable Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device option

  1. Right-click on the sound icon in the notification area and open Playback devices.
  2. Right-click on your default Playback Device and open Properties.
  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. Under the Exclusive mode section, disable Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device by unchecking the box.distorted sound windows 10 speakers properties
  5. Save changes and look for sound improvements.

Now, let’s move to system-related options that can and will occasionally affect playback and cause issues. The first option you should consider disabling is Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device.

This enables individual applications (both third-party and system apps) to take control of the device and override default sound settings.

Theoretically, this is great for various reasons. However, in practice, allowing apps to take over when needed can result in a bag for issues. For some, it might work just fine, but others might have issues.

That’s the ambiguity of Windows 10 for you. Therefore, follow the steps above in order to disable it and we’ll move from there.

Nonetheless, if you’re still unable to hear your favorite song or even system sounds without a metallic sound, let’s disable the other option, too.

6. Disable Sound Effects for the default Playback device and change the default format

6.1 Disable Sound Effects

  1. Right-click on the sound icon in the notification area and open Playback devices.
  2. Right-click on your default Playback Device and open Properties.
  3. Open the Enhancements tab.
  4. Check on the Disable all sound effects box and confirm changes.distorted sound windows 10 disable sound effects

In addition, there’s still something you can disable and tweak in order to avoid annoying distortion. Firstly, Sound Effects.

Those are mostly regulated by Realtek driver and by default disabled within system settings. However, your safest bet is to completely disable them from the system Sound Enhancements. That can be done by following the steps above.

6.2 Change the sound format

  1. Right-click on the sound icon again and open Playback devices.
  2. Right-click on the default Playback Device and open Properties.
  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. Switch between different formats, click on the Test button and look for sound improvements.distorted sound windows 10 default format
  5. If you manage to find the fitting format that performs without distortion, make sure to save the changes.

Moreover, certain users managed to resolve this problem by simply switching to a different sound format within the Playback device settings.

The only problem with this solution is that you’ll need to check multiple formats until you, so to say, hit the right note. Follow the instructions above to change the default sound format on your PC.

7. Reset Windows 10

  1. Firstly, it’s essential to back up your data on an alternative partition or cloud storage.
  2. Once you’ve done that, press Windows key + I to open the Settings app.
  3. Open the Update & security section.
  4. Select Recovery on the left pane.distorted sound windows 10 reset this pc
  5. Click on the Get Started button under the Reset this PC section.
  6. Choose to Remove everything and click Next.distorted sound windows 10 remove everything reset this pc
  7. After the procedure ends, your sound issues should be long gone.

Finally, if none of the previous steps worked in your favor, it’s time to get the big guns into play. Namely, if you upgraded to Windows 10 rather than performing a clean reinstallation – certain problems might occur.

Again, Windows 10 can work like a charm for some users.  On the other hand, others will have a hard time coping with a bag of issues.

Anyway, Windows 10 might lack some things but troubleshooting and recovery options are coming in abundance.

With the Reset this PC option, you’ll avoid performing a clean reinstallation but the system will be renewed, nonetheless.

If you’re uncertain how to do it, make sure to follow the instructions above and we should be good to go.

This procedure resembles factory reset on smartphones and similar devices and it’s quite handy. On the other hand, if you’re still stuck with the distortion, the reinstallation might be your only solution.

In that case, we advise you to check this comprehensive article and inform about the reinstallation procedure in detail.

If you have any questions, alternative solutions or suggestions in regard to the sound distortion issue we addressed today, feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Audio enhancements often alter the pitch of your PC’s audio, just as audio driver issues are also potential culprits. Check out this guide on how to fix distorted sound on Windows 10.

  • Yes, a bad speaker wire can cause distortion. Faulty equipment is often one of the main distortion causes, so consider replacing it as soon as possible with one of the best speakers for PC.

  • High volume definitely can damage your speakers. If the volume control is not working, check this excellent guide to fix the volume problem.

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