How do I get sound on my emulator?

An emulator is a software program that replicates the functions of another software program or a hardware device. Emulators are commonly used to play retro video games on computers and modern gaming consoles by emulating legacy game consoles. People use emulators to play classic games from past systems like the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, and others without needing to own the original hardware.

There are a few key reasons why someone may want to use a video game emulator:

  • To play classic or retro games from past systems that are difficult or expensive to acquire in their original format
  • For nostalgia – to relive favorite childhood games from decades past
  • To access exclusive games that were only available on certain platforms or in specific regions
  • To play fan translations or ROM hacks of games that alter the original gameplay
  • To play games at higher resolutions with graphics filters and enhancements not possible originally

By using emulators, people can conveniently access and enjoy classic video games from the past without hunting down outdated hardware. However, getting optimal sound in emulators is not always straightforward, which this guide aims to address.

Check Audio Settings

The first step is to make sure that sound is actually enabled in your emulator’s settings menu. Most emulators have a specific tab or menu for audio, where you can toggle sound on or off. For example, in RetroArch go to Settings > Audio and make sure that Audio Output is not set to “Disable Audio Output.”

Some Android emulators like ClassicBoy have a mute button or volume slider right on their main interface – make sure these are not silencing your audio. On iOS emulators like Provenance, visit Settings > Audio > Audio Enabled to check.

If sound effects and music are coming through but seem muffled or low quality, look for audio settings like “High Quality Sound” or changing the “Sample Rate”. According to a Reddit thread on improving emulator sound, using 44100 Hz sample rate generally gives the best results on mobile.1

Check Computer Audio Settings

The first step is to check your computer’s audio settings to confirm the volume is turned up and the audio output is set correctly. Go to the Sound Control Panel in Windows by right-clicking the speaker icon in the taskbar and selecting Sounds. Make sure the correct playback device is set as the default, such as your speakers or headphones. Double check that the volume level is turned up and not muted. If you are using external speakers, verify they are powered on and connected properly.

Sometimes the audio driver can get corrupted and cause no sound issues. You can try updating your audio drivers to the latest version from the manufacturer’s website. Refer to Microsoft’s guide on troubleshooting no sound for step-by-step instructions.

Update Audio Drivers

One of the most common causes of no sound on an emulator is outdated or missing audio drivers. Audio drivers act as the software interface between the hardware components that produce sound (like your sound card) and the operating system. Outdated drivers can cause compatibility issues and bugs that prevent audio from working properly.

To fix this, you’ll want to update your audio drivers to the latest versions provided by the manufacturer. Here’s how:

  • Go to the website for your computer, motherboard, or sound card manufacturer.
  • Navigate to the support section and find the drivers available for download.
  • Look for an audio driver and download the latest version.
  • Run the downloaded driver installer and follow the on-screen prompts.
  • Restart your computer when prompted to finish the installation.

With updated drivers, any compatibility issues that were preventing sound should be resolved. Be sure to keep your drivers up-to-date going forward as companies release new versions. Outdated drivers are one of the most preventable causes of technical issues like no audio.

According to Novint, “Armed with the knowledge of the importance of updating audio drivers, it’s time to delve into the actual process. Fear not, for we’ve got you covered on how to update audio drivers in Windows 10” ( Keeping your drivers updated is key for resolving no sound issues.

Use Recommended Audio Settings

Following the emulator’s documentation for optimal audio configurations is the best way to get sound working properly. The Dolphin Emulator Wiki has an extensive Configuration Guide with recommended settings for audio performance.

Some key tips from their guide:

  • Enable audio stretching to prevent audio stuttering.
  • Use DX11 or OpenGL as the audio backend for best performance.
  • Adjust audio latency to the lowest stable value.
  • Enable audio dumping to troubleshoot audio issues.

Experimenting with the audio settings following their guidance can help resolve many audio problems in Dolphin.

Adjust In-Game Settings

Many emulators include in-game audio options that you can adjust to improve sound quality or enable certain effects. For example, you may see options to change the sound mode between stereo, surround, or headphone settings (1). Surround can provide a more immersive experience for speakers, while headphone mode optimizes the audio for headsets. There may also be separate volume sliders for sound effects, music, and dialogue.

Check for settings related to audio spatialization like Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos. Enabling these can give sound more directionality and realism. You may also find options for audio presets that tune the sound specifically for competitive play to emphasize critical noises like footsteps.

Experiment with each setting to determine what provides the best audio experience. The ideal configuration depends on your speaker setup and personal preference. Adjusting in-game audio can often resolve issues with missing or faint sounds in the emulator.

Change Audio Backend

One way to fix sound issues in an emulator is to change the audio backend. Popular audio backends for emulators include DirectSound, XAudio2, SDL, OpenAL, etc. Each backend interfaces with your operating system’s sound architecture differently, so switching between them may help if one isn’t working properly.

For example, in the Dolphin emulator, you can go to the Audio settings and change the audio backend from DirectSound to XAudio2 or OpenAL. According to a Dolphin forum thread, switching from XAudio2 to DSound fixed audio problems in Donkey Kong Country Returns for one user. The Dolphin developers also explain how XAudio2 used to be the default backend for a long time until they decided to switch to SDL in newer versions.

So if you’re running into no sound, stuttering, crashes, or other audio issues in an emulator, try going through each available audio backend option to see if another one works better on your system. Just keep in mind you may need to restart the emulator after switching the backend for the change to fully take effect.

Downgrade Emulator Version

If your audio issue began occurring after a recent emulator update, consider downgrading to an older version that had working audio. Sometimes newer versions introduce bugs or compatibility problems.

To downgrade the Android emulator in Android Studio:

  1. Open Android Studio and navigate to Tools > SDK Manager.
  2. Under the “SDK Platforms” tab, check “Show Package Details” in the bottom right corner.
  3. Expand the entry for a previous version of the Android emulator, such as 30.0.0.
  4. Check the box next to “Android Emulator” to mark that specific version for installation.
  5. Click “Apply” to download and install the older emulator version.

Once installed, you can select the older emulator version in the AVD Manager. Test to see if audio works properly in that version. If the issue persists, it may not be related to the emulator update. But downgrading can often resolve audio problems caused by bugs in newer releases.

For reference, some users have reported success downgrading to emulator version 30.0.0 or 29.3.8 to fix audio issues [1] [2].

Reinstall Emulator

If you have tried everything else and the emulator audio still does not work, completely reinstalling the emulator may fix the issue. This should be used as a last resort, after trying all other troubleshooting steps.

To completely uninstall the emulator:

  1. Open your machine’s Control Panel and uninstall the emulator.
  2. Delete any remaining emulator files and folders on your computer.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Download the latest emulator version from the official website.
  5. Reinstall the emulator.

After a fresh install and restart, launch the emulator again and test if audio works properly. Reinstalling removes any corrupted files or registry issues that may be causing audio problems in the emulator.

As a last resort, this method often resolves persistent emulator audio problems that other troubleshooting could not fix, by completely resetting the emulator. However, it can be time consuming to reconfigure the freshly installed emulator.


Get the sounds in your favorite retro games working by following these tips. First, check your computer’s audio settings and update any outdated drivers. Use the emulator’s recommended settings for audio, or adjust them if needed. If audio still doesn’t work, try changing the audio backend or downgrading the emulator version. As a last resort, completely reinstall the emulator. With some trial and error, you should be able to get audio functioning properly. Focus on adjusting the settings in your operating system and emulator, and don’t forget that downgrades or reinstalls can fix many issues. Best of luck getting those 8-bit tunes and sound effects playing again!

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