Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Solving the Vista "Failed to play test tone" sound problem

It's almost a year since I installed Vista on my work machine. I sorted out most of the glitches a long time ago but I've not had any sound the whole time, which I kind of learned to live with. I'd pretty much given up trying to fix it, thinking I'd wait for SP1, which I was sure would sort out the problem.

So I saw SP1 RC1 was available and installed it and excitedly tried my sound. Still nothing... OK I thought, now is the time to figure out what the problem is. I tried out some of the SysInternals tools to see if they could provide some kind of useful info, basically to see if the audio subsystem was trying to access a registry key or file that didn't exist or it didn't have access to (I'd already decided it probably wasn't a driver problem since a completely different sound card had exactly the same problem).

I got nowhere with that so I moved onto my next idea, trying to figure out what was going on in the audio log files. If you change the registry key HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\WMI\AutoLogger\Audio\Start value from 0 to 1, log files get generated in %WINDIR%\system32\LogFiles\Audio (called something like AudioSrv.Evm.001). But I have no idea how to view these log files, they are in some kind of proprietary binary format. So I'd thought I'd harass Larry Osterman. I don't know the guy, but he's the only member of the Windows Audio team who I'm aware of that blogs. But before I had a chance to make a fool of myself I saw a link on one of his comments by someone who'd solved their own Vista sound problem for themselves.

There were two nuggets in there. First up was the suggestion to debug the issue using the WinAudio sample from the Vista SDK. That way, you find out exactly what error message the audio APIs are returning. The second nugget was the solution to his particular problem, which was to delete the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Ole\DefaultAccessPermission. I didn't think it would fix my machine, since I'd followed quite a few other suggestions without success, but I tried it anyway. It didn't work. Or so I thought, until I rebooted and my speakers miraculously started making noise.

So I'm a happy camper, but there's a few things I don't understand. Why is the logging file format not documented? Perhaps it is, but it should be more widely publicised if it is. For that matter, why's it not just a text file? And why doesn't the audio stack just write to the event log like most other Windows components when something goes wrong? If I'd seen something in there saying access was denied to some COM component I'd have a clue what the problem was. 

And see this below? That's what I'm listening to. Yes, music!

Currently listening to Something , Blue Jay Way (Tran by The Beatles from the album Love

Addendum for non-technical readers

  • From the Windows Start menu, choose 'Run...'.
  • Type regedit in the 'Open' text box.
  • Navigate to 'Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Ole
  • Delete the registry key 'DefaultAccessPermission'. If it isn't there, chances are this isn't the problem causing your lack of sound.
  • Beware that fiddling with your registry can cause system problems if you modify important settings.

40 comments:

regli said...

I searched far and wide for a solution to the Vista sound problem and have been continually frustrated.

I tried deleting the registry key and just like you, I was amazed to find they my sound was recovered.

Vista is usable again.

Thanks a lot for posting this!

Anonymous said...

I had the "Failed to play Test Tone" problem. It turned out to be my Logitech Quickam. When I unplugged it from the USB port, the sound came back. I put it on another USB port where it thinks it's a "new" device, asks to install drivers (but DON'T do it) and both the Quickam and sound worked.

tedlizclark said...

As a "silent" Vista user, I was interested in the above posting. Not being a techie, I was unable to locate the entry referenced. Can you provide a pathway so that I can see if this solves my problem (which I suspect was self-inflicted by the legacy stuff I transferred to my system.)

Thanks for any assistance you can provide.

Doogal Bell said...

I've added some non-technical instructions that hopefully will help you out

tedlizclark said...

Thanks for the assistance for non-technical users. I was able to locate the key and delete it; unfortunately, in my case "no joy", so I will continue as a "Vista mute" user; excellent blog! Happy New Year!

tedlizclark said...

Good News! This morning my sound miraculously came on. I thought I had rebooted after making the change but maybe I didn't (non-techie, you know!).

Can only assume it was the change suggested or perhaps the "Microsoft fairy".

Anyway, it's nice to hear the noise.

Doogal Bell said...

Good to hear! (pun intended)

rob said...

Question: Is 'DefaultLaunchPermission' the same registry key you were reffering to in your post? Thanks again for posting this.

Doogal Bell said...

No, definitely DefaultAccessPermission. If it isn't there, then your problem is something else I guess.

rlegris13 said...

If the above doesn't work, try:


1 Go to control panel

2. Double-Click on the Sound Icon

3. Single-click the Speakers to highlight them

4. Click on Properties (bottom right corner)

5. Go to the Enhancements Tab and Click on it

6. Now click "Disable All Sound Effects"

7. Click OK and you should be good to go!

I didn't have that in my registry, so I tried the above and magically my sound returned!!

Anonymous said...

This is the answer I have been searching for. I am a network admin and I didn't really have time to fight a sound problem, your answer is the only resolution that worked on all of my 9 Vista machines on my network. This problem is but one of my list of why we don't have more Vista machines on our network, but problem solved. You Role.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

You are the award winner "Lifesaver of the year"!!! I have installed seven Notebooks with vista business. All of them have been in "silent mode"! I tried everything for about two months now (even reinstallation). Your registry hack makes me sleep again. Despite of sex: If I wouldn't be married I would ask you to marry me :-)

All my best wishes to you!
Alex from Germany

Sue said...

I've got the same problem but can't find the registry key and turning off the sound effects hasn't helped either.
Any other ideas?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a compatability issue between my PC and my Altec Lanseng speakers, so went and forked out $70 for a new set of Logitech speakers. After plugging them, rebooting etc, I was still a mute! I went online and found this thread, and noticed that anonymous said that it was a Logitech Quickcam issue. Hmmmm, I have one of those ... so I unplugged my Logitech Quickcam, and sure enough, my speakers are working again - hurrah! (Wish I knew about this earlier as I would have saved myself a few bucks!). All good now though. Thanks for the tip. Cheers, twobob

Anonymous said...

I recently bought outboard (Divoom Morro 220) speakers for my laptob. I recently installed Vista Home basic wiht SP1. My problem is that my onboard speakers are working fine, but my outboard speakers are mute. Their is no sound att all. Is their a solution for this problem?
RR
(South-Africa)

Anonymous said...

This is what I have been looking for.
Thanks for the tip, works great. I hate to program without music.

As discussed in other threads as well.
The problem began when I joined a domain.
Now it is music to my ears.

Chris said...

Thanks for the fix! Ran into this issue yesterday, drove me a tad batty, but the registry edit did the trick. Thanks again. :)

homebew said...

Have a dual boot system with vista Ultimate and xp pro. All is well is xp land. However, I have sound through my turntable and juli@ sound card but no sound from Sounds through Vista. Do not have the hkey thing.

Any ideas would be helpful.

thanks

Nicolas said...

I was experiencing the same issue and also, when the audio stopped working, the sync center couldn't detect my smartphone (windows based) anymore. The weird thing is that, after deleting the registry key, besides recovering the audio, the sync center started working again. I think I will never understand how Vista works!! Thanks again for your help!

jace said...

Doogal Bell you rock...I searched and searched for answers to my audio problem and you gave it...thankyou for dat....you da man...thanks again...

Tim said...

I do not have the DefaultAccessPermission key in my registry.

Also found and set "Disable Sound Effects". That also did NOT help.

My sound i snot disabled or muted in the control panel or on the speaker icon in the task bar.

ANy other ideas?

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much, this had been driving me crazy and your solution was the final of about 50 things I tried. thanks for giving simple instructions too.

Rajeev said...

I had same problem and deleting registry key just fixed it.. I have been struggling with this for sometime. So thanks.. i haven't yet found reason how this key is related to audio device though.

Doogal Bell said...

It's not directly related to audio, the registry key is for COM components in general and the value in there isn't valid in some way. The audio stack must use a COM component at some point and that registry value is used when launching it.

Anonymous said...

i have had the same problem all my sound went from my itunes and any internet websites. The cause of this problem was my logiteck quick cam, i removed the webcam and my sound was as good as new.

Neil said...

Deleting that key solved my audio problem on my HP xw6600 workstation. Like magic it has also solved a problem with my Vista Photos screensaver where it would display the message "An error is preventing the slide show from playing." - Thanks.

Anonymous said...

a Temp fix that works is to open a run prompt (windows key+R) then type: services.msc, go to Windows Audio > Right-click > Restart. Again it's only a temp fix.. I think I nailed down a permanent fix for myself though, I recently had 3 USB connections operating and from elsewhere I've read the USB takes over COM ports so I just disconnected all USB items and it's been fixed (after a system Reboot of course).

Anonymous said...

Worked brilliantly on Lenovo 3000 J running Vista that lost sound. Bookmarked :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. I just don't understand what happened ? Who put this registry key ? One of service packs, hit fixes ?

Regards

Doogal Bell said...

No idea where the registry key comes from, probably some rogue application.

Anonymous said...

That message means the APO failed in some manner. ANY manner. The APO is where Vista puts its audio effects. So audio comes in pure and unadulterated. It then goes through the APO - which might do stuff like boost the bass, add depth to the sound, keep the volume from getting wayyy too loud and blowing out your speakers, Dolby processing, etc. But perhaps just one of those effects can't handle the current speaker configuration. For instance, you can't play or do 7.1 surround sound processing if you only have 2 speakers (configuration: Stereo Speakers)! So the APO says "I can't do that boss". Then you get the failure message.

So disabling all Enhancements *will* sidestep this problem because it takes away the APO entirely. But you'll also lose out on any effects (like I said, bass boost, equalizer, etc.)

So I don't know how to fix it, but I hope that at least explains the problem a little better!

Anonymous said...

Am a IT profesional with over 30 years troubleshooting experience. Recently did a "upgrade in place" from Xp to Vista on a Dell D620 laptop. After the upgrade,there was no audio. Spent a week googling this problem with out an answer till tonight. There are numerous blogs and post on this exact issue but no answers..The thing about Google is phrasing your search and tonight I phrased it right and I have ben drinking and was very surprised when i found this fix and rebooted and it worked. There are thousands of people looking for this fix,we need to let them know! It fixed my problem!

Anonymous said...

Deleting this entry in registry helped me with Windows 7 system, too :))
Thanks


For user in Poland (in Polish):
Problem z brakiem dźwięku i komunikatem "nie można odtworzyć dźwięku testowego" udało się mi rozwiązać przez skasowanie przedmiotowego wpisu w rejestrze - po restarcie komutera dźwięk magicznie powrócił :) tak jak wcześniej magicznie nagle zginął.

pozdrawiam

Anonymous said...

I had the same EXACT problem and installed everything and did everything. Then I prayed to God and I came across a solution: UNPLUG the Logitech WebCam from USB port and connect to another port, and then the sound will work!!! :)

habakkuk said...

This happened to me the day after i plugged my ps3 controller into a usb port in an attempt to charge it. No registry key was found, then i read a comment about USB devices. So i unplugged all my usb devices, and used my ps/2 keyboard to reboot, and voila, sound works!

iNzO said...

As a temporary fix, Go to
START - Type "Services" in the search bar - Click continue when windows asks for your permission to continue - Scroll all the way down to Windows Audio - Click once on it - click on the "restart" option thats on the left side..

Again, this is only a temporary fix I use when my system fails to obey, but hope it helps...

Source obtained forgotten

iNzO said...

Ahh there it is

http://www.consumingexperience.com/2009/04/failed-to-play-test-tone-no-sound-on.html

Anonymous said...

I am aware that this is an older post, but I am hoping that someone will be able to help me here..
I recently got the "failed to play test tone" thing. It started after some microsoft updates. So I tried to do a system restore to a point I know it worked, and it did. However it automatically did other microsoft updates, and I am back without any sounds. Worst thing yet, the restore point that I had previously is gone. So I tried reinstalling the sound card and everything, but the reg key mentioned(I can't find it). Can someone please help me?

P.S. Windows Vista 32-bit, using integrated speakers (Speakers and Dual headphones IDT High Definition Audio CODEC), no external webcams
My headsets doesn't work as well, and it also said failed to test tone

Chris Bell said...

Funnily enough I've been spending the evening trying to clean up an old Vista machine to get it working at a reasonable speed again and I've come to the conclusion that Vista is a complete dog of an OS. Other than the various suggestions here, the only other suggestion I'd have would be to get hold of a copy of Windows 7 or 8, wax your machine, and upgrade. Windows 7 was a good OS and, despite its detractors, Windows 8 has some good features like super quick boot times.

Marina Levshteyn said...

Thank you so much for posting this comment. It helped to fix the same problem for Microsoft Surface windows 8 tablet. 8 years passed but something stays the same:-)