How Do I Test Surround Sound in Windows?

Many music files and applications don't make use of more than two speakers, making it hard to tell if your new surround sound speakers are correctly placed, plugged in and working. Windows 7 and 8 have a built-in speaker test, so you don't need any extra software to test your setup. If your sound cuts out entirely, and you haven't touched your speaker setup, reboot your computer first to try and fix the problem.

Step

Right-click the speaker icon in the system tray on the Windows taskbar -- or in the taskbar's hidden icon section, which can be revealed with the up arrow -- and choose Playback Devices.

Open Playback Devices.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft
Click Configure.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Select the audio device you want to test and click Configure. On most systems, you'll want to select the device labeled as the "Default Device."

Pick a number of speakers.
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Step

Select how many channels (speakers) your surround sound system has. Click Next if you had to change from the selected number of channels originally displayed in the setup.

Step

If you don't see the correct number of channels as an option, your sound card or sound device might not support that many channels. Another possibility is that you need to install, update or reinstall the drivers for the device.

Test one or all speakers.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Click a speaker icon to test an individual speaker, or click Test to test each speaker in order. As each speaker plays, its icon animates to help you identify broken or misplaced speakers.

Step

If the correct number of channels is selected, but you still don't hear audio from every speaker, check the connections. Surround sound speakers require either three or four color-coded cables; if you only plug in the regular green cable, you'll only get stereo sound.

Step

Click Cancel to close the window after testing.