laptop speakers (amp?) going bad?

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I've got a Dell Inspiron 8500 running XP.  It's getting pretty old now
(had a 3 yr warranty on it and that's expired).

Today, out of the blue, the speakers/headphone jack started acting
funny.  Yesterday, everyting was working fine.  Today the speakers give
a lot of distortion with loud low frequency noises - it sounds just like
buzz you get when you have a torn woofer in a conventional speaker.
Playing with the balance, I can hear the same distortion from both
speakers.  Also, along with this problem, the headphone jack no longer
works at all.  If I plug headphones in, the laptop speakers cut out like
they should, but no sound comes out of the headphones regardless of volume.

The fact that both speakers and the headphones are malfunctioning at the
same time leads me to believe that the cause is at a lower level, like
perhaps the amplifier.  Given the symptoms, does this sound like a
possibility?  Are there other possibilities I might be overlooking?

I've looked at all the simple stuff like mute and volume controls (I was
surprised that I could not find a separate control for the headphone
jack).  The SigmaTel audio device claims to be "working properly" and
the driver is up to date.

Is there any simple solution short of taking it in for service (which I
wouldn't do for this particular problem)?



Re: laptop speakers (amp?) going bad?

If the speakers are 'self powered' as many are, this tells us that they
would contain an amplifier, you'll have a power cord and a signal lead
going to at least one speaker. If this is the case, the best bet is to
try another set of speakers or try them elsewhere, self powered speakers
that contain an internal amplifier as easy to test.

Simply connect to a CD player or a small radio line audio output (not
the speaker output sockets), we are injecting a low level audio signal
into them this will tell us if they sound OK or not.

From what you described sounds as though the amplifier is suffering
from crossover distortion, usually due to a faulty output chip, it could
be the speakers themselves.


Re: laptop speakers (amp?) going bad?

davy wrote:
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I am talking about the internal laptop speakers, not a pair of external

So the problem is that the internals speakers are giving distortion and
the audio-out/headphone jack stopped working entirely (well, it worked
enough to know that something was plugged into it, because it switched
off the internal speakers)

Rebooting the machine several times had no effect on the situation.
However, after being off over the weekend, the sound now seems to be
functioning correctly again (both internal speakers and headphone jack).
  I guess I'll cross my fingers and hope it lasts.


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