Tell us the make and model of your brand name system, or if you have a generic desktop system, the make and model of the mboard.
The specific model of a brand name system is shown on a label on the outside of the case somewhere, or it can often be determined by going to the brand name's web site and loading a program they have available.
For Dell computers, they have a Service Tag number - the specific model can be determined by using that on their site, or can often be determined there automatically by you downloading some software. The Service Tag number should be on a label on the outside of the case, probably on the bottom on a laptop, on the back on a desktop, and is often also shown in the bios Setup.
The model, sometimes the make, of a mboard in a generic desktop system is usually printed on the mboard's surface in obvious larger characters, often between the slots.
See Response 6 in this
" Make sure you don't have volumes set too low or muted, for things you want to hear or use.... "
Make sure you don't have the balance for your "master" sound settings set to one side.
When you're plugging in more speakers than just a pair or speakers, then your sound adapter must support you connecting more than just a pair of speakers into it, and
- the software for the sound adapter must have been installed correctly
- you must plug the speakers into the correct jacks
- you may need to specify the purpose the jack is being used for.
If the software for the sound adapter was installed properly, usually a window pops up when you first plug in a jack asking you what you're plugging into certain jacks, e.g. in the case of 2.1 sound, when you plug in the third speaker into a jack other than the one a single pair of speakers plugs into. There may also be an icon in Control Panel for a specific sound brand where you can do the same thing - e.g. I have one for Realtek sound in Vista.
If your sound software was NOT installed properly, then you may NOT have such a window pop up, and NOT have an icon in Control Panel for a specific sound brand where you can do the same thing.
Unless the instructions for installing a device tell you otherwise......
(this ALWAYS applies to sound adapter software.....) .
You DO NOT install drivers for a device while booting into Windows, if the software for the device has not been installed yet - when Windows detects a generic device or New Hardware while booting, you allow it to search for drivers, it doesn't find any, and it wants you to show it the location of the drivers - CANCEL that, continue on to the desktop, and install the software for the device using the proper installation from a CD or the proper installation file that you downloaded from the web.
The same applies no matter when Windows finds New Hardware !
(The following also applies if you want to re-install the sound software)
If you DID install drivers that way, go to Control Panel - Classic View - Programs and Features and Un-install the software you installed, reboot, DO NOT install drivers while booting.
If there was nothing to Un-install there, or on any case, look in Device Manager (reboot at least once first if there was something to Un-install there) , and if the sound device is still listed, RIGHT click on it and Un-install it (that may take a while).
If it was still listed in Device manager, reboot at least once after you have un-installed it.
DO NOT install drivers while booting, and then install the sound software the right way !
Where is Device Manager in Vista and Windows 7 ?
Double click on the Computer icon, click on System properties in the top bar, Device Manager is on the left.
Do speakers or headphones plugged into a port on the BACK of the computer have sound on both sides ? If they do, there's nothing wrong with the sound settings in Windows.
It's extremely unlikely two sound adapters would be defective on one side.
A sound adapter is NOT a CARD unless it's chipset is on a physical board that plugs into a slot on the mboard inside the computer caseand can be removed. Onboard sound - a sound adapter built into the mboard - is NOT a CARD. A USB sound adapter is NOT a CARD.
The same applies to other adapters that are built into the mboard - video, network, etc. adapters.
If you're plugging headphones or speakers into a jack on the computer case, there may be a wire disconnected or broken off inside the case between the jack and the header it connects to on the mboard, or the wire may be connected to the wrong place on the header if one side has never worked with headphones.
The wiring cables for headphones can be quite small and easily damaged. It's quite common for headphones (and keyboard, and mice, etc.) individual wires to get broken inside their cables yet the wire's insulation is not broken - in that case, the one side may work sometimes when the cable near where it enters it is in some positions, and not work when the cable is in other positions.
However, it sounds like you may have tried the headphones in another computer, or in a sound port on the BACK of your computer case, and ruled that out.
Windows 95 and up supports you installing more than one sound adapter, but only one of them can be used at any one time. Whatever sound adapter you installed the software for last becomes the default sound adapter.
If you want to change which sound adapter is being used....
Control Panel - (Classic View) - Sound
RIGHT click on the speaker icon in your Taskbar bar bottom right on your desktop screen - it may be hidden; if so, click on the < at the left end of the icons there to reveal it - choose Audio Devices (that takes you to the Sound window too)
On the Playback or Recording window, the device with the green checkmark is the default sound device been used at that time. RIGHT click on any device that does NOT have that checkmark and choose Set as Default device, to change which device is the default device. Click on OK at the bottom of the Sound window to Save the setting.