Fix: Computer Doesn’t Recognize Headphones

Some users have been reporting having trouble connecting their headphones with their computers. Most of the time, this particular issue is reported on laptops but some users have also reportedly encountered it on desktops with dedicated sound cards.

This issue is not specific to any Windows versions and is frequently reported on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Note: Before you go through with the methods below, make sure you install any dedicated audio drivers that your motherboard might need. If you have a dedicated sound card, please install the correct drivers for it. In the event that you encounter this problem on a laptop, visit the manufacturer’s download website and download all audio drivers that are recommended for your particular model.

If your Windows version doesn’t recognize your headphones (headset) when you plug them in, the following fixes will most likely help. Below you have a collection of methods that users in a similar situation have used to resolve the issue. Please follow each of the following methods in order until you encounter a fix that solves the problem in your particular situation.

Method 1: Disable front panel jack detection (if applicable)

Some users have discovered that this issue occurs because of the way that the Realtek software manages the panel jacks. By disabling the headphone’s jack detection from the front panel jack, some users have managed to get their headphones recognized. This seems like an isolated Realtek software bug and might not occur in every version.

Note: This method won’t be applicable if you’re not using Realtek HD Audio Manager to manage your sound streams.

Here’s a quick guide on disabling headphone jack detection from the Realtek software:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run box. Then, type “control” in the Run box and hit Enter to open Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, select Hardware and Sound then click on Realtek HD Audio Manager.
  3. Click on Device advanced settings and select Separate all input jacks as independent input devices, then hit Ok to save the changes.
    Note: If you have an older version of the Realtek HD Audio manager, go to Connector settings and enable the checkbox associated with Disable front panel jack detection.
  4. Once the change has been performed, close “Realtek HD Audio Manager” and restart your computer. At the next startup, see if the issue has been resolved. If your PC is still unable to detect your headphones/headset, continue with Method 2.

Method 2: Enable Multi-stream mode (if applicable)

Most of the time, this particular issue is caused by a Realtek HD Audio Manager setting. Some users have reported that their headsets were detected as soon as they enabled Multi-stream mode in Realtek HD Audio Manager settings.

Note: This method is only applicable if you’re using a Realtek Audio driver.

Here’s a quick guide on enabling multi-stream mode:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run box. Then, type “control” and hit Enter to open the Control Panel.
  2. Inside Control Panel, click on Hardware and Sound and then click on Realtek HD Audio Manager.
  3. Then in the top-right corner, click on Device advanced settings and enable Multi-stream mode. Hit OK to save the changes.
  4. Reboot your computer and see if the issue is resolved at the next startup. If the headset is still not getting recognized by your PC, move down to the method below.

Method 3: Updating to the latest audio drivers

Some affected users have managed to resolve the issue and get their PC to recognize their headphones by updating to the latest audio drivers available.

Your computer might fail to recognize your headphones because Windows is not using the correct audio drivers or the drivers where corrupted after a bad installation – happens frequently when users update from an older version to Windows 10.

The quickest way to inspect if your PC is using the correct audio drivers is via Device Manager. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run box. Then, type “devmgmt.msc” and hit Enter to open Device Manager.
  2. Inside Device Manager, expand the Sound, video and game controllers drop-down menu and see whether your headset is listed here. If it is listed, right-click on it and choose Update driver. Then, click on Search automatically for updated driver software and see whether there’s a new version available.
    Note: If you manage to install a new driver version, reboot your computer and see if the issue is resolved at the next startup. If your headset is not visible inside the Sound, video and game controller menu, continue with step 3.
  3. See whether any of the entries in Device Manager have a yellow exclamation point in the icon. Most likely, they can be found by expanding the Unknown Devices drop-down menu.
  4. If you find any device listed under Unknown devices, right-click on them and choose Update Driver. If the updating component doesn’t manage to find a driver, double-click on the entry and go to the Details tab.
  5. Use the drop-down menu to select Device Instance Path, then copy the value and paste it in an online search. You should then get a clear picture of which driver you need to install.
  6. Install the driver that is not getting recognized and reboot your computer. At the next restart, see if the issue has been resolved.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Computer Doesn’t Recognize Headphones

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