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2016 Dell XPS 13 9360 – Audio issue with headphones

I’m posting this, wondering if anyone else has encountered this issue?

I recently took delivery of a brand new 2016 Dell XPS 13 (9360). Audio through the speakers is absolutely fine, however, when I plug in headphones into the laptop, regardless of the setting I select in the pop up box, audio is poor. The audio sounds bad. Tinny, really light on bass with a bit of echo.

I have

  • Updated Windows
  • Updated bios
  • Updated drivers, including audio and chipset
  • Ensured that there are no sound effects being applied (a popular solution everywhere on Google but no luck for me)
  • Done a system restore
  • …. ALL with no luck

I’m pretty sure this relates to an audio driver issue. When you install the Realtek audio drivers, there are two stages. 1) When it uninstalls it 2) when it installs the new driver.

For the period of time after it has uninstalled it, the audio is normal (not perfect but nearly). As soon as it reinstalls the driver, it sounds bad again.

There is a second reason why I think it is a software issue. It’s possible to have audio through BOTH the speaker and the headphones. When I do this, not only does it sound tinny in the headphones (as usual), but suddenly, the speakers ALSO sound tinny. It seems like, as soon as the laptop detects there are headphones in, it changes the audio produced.

I’m talking to Dell support, who have been helpful up until the point of being able to resolve it, but posting this in the hope other people find it in Google, and perhaps fix it. Of course, if I get this resolved, I will post an update for others.

EDIT:

I managed to fix this, and it wasn’t that difficult.

Not surprisingly, looking at my Analytics, quite a few people have read this blog post, so it was good to know I wasn’t by myself going crazy.

I didn’t progress anywhere with Dell support. I was pretty convinced it was a driver issue, so looked into it myself.

It’s my understanding that all the drivers that Dell were getting me to download and install (through SupportAssist) were the latest ones to be signed off by Dell.

Turns out these were NOT the latest drivers available, and there were much more recent ones available. This was odd because I thought I was downloading the latest drivers from the Realtek website too.

I downloading a programme called ‘Driver Easy’. It’s free, but it has a paid option. I did a bit of research, and it looked legit so gave it a go. It automatically looks, and installs all the latest drivers for your PC with a few clicks. There was about 15 mine needed (even after updating them with Dell support). As soon as they were all installed, the audio worked fine.

I actually bought ‘Driver Easy’, because at this point I was so frustrated and didn’t want to have to return the machine. They have a money back policy so you can get it back if it doesn’t work. Also, don’t pay the price on the website. I Google’d something like ‘Driver easy coupon’ and  got about a third off straight away.

After hours, and hours of frustration it was all sorted in an hour. For me that is. If you’re reading this, give it a try. If it works, please leave a comment, and if something else resolves yours, then again, please leave a comment.

EDIT 2:

A couple of people have found changing their settings in MaxxAudio Pro fixed this. Personally I couldn’t find this app or anything on my XPS, but might help someone else. Take a look.


3 Comments

  • Davidy |

    there is nothing wrong with your drivers. To solve the problem simply open the Waves MaxxAudiopro software and deselect surroundsound in the Dimension tab.

  • Paul |

    I’ve found that turning off the “Playback Enhancement” that is provided through the preinstalled MaxxAudio Pro greatly improves the audio, and removes the tinny effect through the headphones – the bass is slightly worse in speaker mode, but it’s relatively easy to toggle on/off when the needs demand it

  • Jason |

    I have exactly the same issue and yours is the only thing i’ve found that exactly describes what i’m experiencing. Did you many to resolve at all?
    Just spent an hour with dell support, they replaced every driver imaginable but it doesn’t resolve it.
    They have said i need to send it back for a replacement.

So, what do you think ?