Hearing random sounds or unexpected audio playback on your PC? You may even be getting a sudden lack of audio. Many issues can cause this, and a virus or malware infection may be to blame.

Of course, there are other reasons, such as software glitches, outdated or corrupted audio drivers, third-party audio devices messing with your settings, audio enhancements and plenty more.

Fortunately, you can stop these random noises in a few simple steps.

This guide will help you fix audio playback problems on Windows and how to stay safe using the best antivirus software.

Audio playback problems on Windows: Quick fixes

It can be a pain to keep hearing distorted noises or random bleeps on your PC, but you can identify and solve the problem by running the audio troubleshooter and updating your drivers. We also recommend running a reliable virus scanner, especially if there’s malware hiding in plain sight.

Check your audio settings

Windows Audio Settings

When trying to identify and solve audio playback problems on Windows, checking your audio settings is a good place to start. Here, you can see what audio output device is active, see if any apps are causing the issue and test audio to identify the issue. 

Click on the speaker icon located on the system tray on the taskbar, select the arrow next to the volume slider and select More volume settings. An alternative way is to right-click the speaker icon and select Sound settings

Under Output, check if the correct audio output is selected. If the wrong device is chosen, this could be the reason for loss of audio or strange audio playback. 

For further investigation, head to All sound devices under Advanced. Select an output device you don’t wish to hear audio from. Under General, select Don’t allow next to Audio. This will stop any audio coming from the device, which can help you detect where the random audio playback is coming from. 

Furthermore, under Output settings, you can select Test to check if the audio from the device sounds right. 

Run the audio troubleshooter

Windows Audio Troubleshoot Settings

The audio troubleshooter on Windows will take the legwork out of solving the problem if you’re unsure how to fix random audio playback. You can also choose each audio output device to nail down where the issue is coming from. 

To access the troubleshooter, right-click the speaker icon and select Sound settings. Under Advanced, select Output devices next to Troubleshoot common sound problems

In the window that pops up, select the audio device you wish to troubleshoot and choose Next. Your PC will automatically detect if there are any problems. If there are any, follow the instructions and check if the problem has been fixed. 

(It may state, “Trouble-shooters have moved and this tool will be retired,” but it still works just the same). 

Disable audio enhancements

Windows Audio Enhancement Settings

Many audio devices come with audio enhancements meant to improve sound quality, but they may also not work as intended. If so, you’ll need to turn off audio enhancements. 

Head into Sound settings by right-clicking the speaker icon. Head to All sound devices under Advanced and select an output device. Scroll to the bottom and next to Audio enhancements, click on the drop-down menu and select Off. Do this to each audio output device if multiple devices are experiencing random sound feedback. 

This will turn off any audio enhancements that may be causing the issue. 

Update your audio drivers

Windows Device Manager Audio Drivers

If your computer has outdated or corrupted drivers installed, it can cause strange audio playback or loss of sound. If this is the case, it’s time to update your audio drivers. 

This can be done in two ways. If you’re using a third-party audio device, you can visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers there. For example, if your audio device comes from Logitech, you can visit the company’s website and search for a driver update to download.

You can also update your audio drivers in Windows settings. In the search box on the taskbar, type in “Device Manager” and select Device Manager > Audio inputs and outputs > right-click on your chosen audio deviceUpdate driver and follow the steps. 

If audio driver updates are available, download and install the update to see if this fixes the issue.

Update your software and restart your computer

Windows update settings for blocked software updates

Updating your Windows PC software and restarting your computer can often fix minor glitches that are causing random audio playback problems, but it can also fend off malicious software. 

Cybercriminals take advantage of security vulnerabilities on your device. These zero-day vulnerabilities allow threat actors to exploit computer systems until developers mitigate them, which can cause major damage. 

Updating your system’s software can resolve the issue. A software update often contains security patches that help protect your device, as developers work to protect users from known zero-day attacks and other forms of malware trying to infect your device, especially with unfamiliar processes. 

You can update your device through its settings. For example, you can update your Windows PC by navigating to Start > Settings > Windows Update > Check for updates. If there are any, download and install the update. 

Change your passwords

Norton 360 Password Manager

If you’ve experienced audio or sound problems on Windows and nothing will fix it, chances are your PC has been infected with a virus or malware, and your online accounts and devices are at risk of being compromised.

To help mitigate potential malware threats or hackers taking control of your accounts, change your passwords and use a strong password to stop suspicious activity. 

Using password managers such as LastPass or 1Password can help manage all your passwords in one place, create a complex, near-unbreakable master password and encrypt your information. 

Changing passwords will stop hackers from trying to steal any sensitive information and your online accounts. 

Use antivirus software to detect and stop malware

Norton 360 Security and Settings

Getting a loss of audio or distorted audio sounds on your PC is annoying, but if a virus or malware is the reason, it could cause serious damage to your machine and more. Using one of the best antivirus software like Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) will keep you safe from any malicious software, like ransomware, adware, spyware, phishing and more.

That’s not all; antivirus software can provide extra features like VPNs, dark web monitoring and more. Norton 360 has all these features and extra security tools that can backup your data, prevent online identity theft and stop malware. 

What’s more, Norton 360 comes with monitoring features to identify all suspicious activity on your device. It will help detect and notify you about any unusual activity, including malicious software causing audio problems, and stop it using it’s protection tools. 

Check out our Norton 360 review and Norton 360 Platinum review to see which antivirus package suits you best.

Why is my PC playing random sounds?

If you’re hearing random sounds coming from your PC, whether it be unexpected audio or strange distortion, this is happening for several reasons.

It may be coming from apps running in the background you aren’t aware of, from a random ad or video playing on your browser or even an unexpected Bluetooth device connected to your computer.

Distorted or bleeping sounds could be due to incompatible audio drivers that need an update, audio enhancements on output devices that aren’t working correctly or system updates that haven’t been installed yet.

Malware can also cause changes to your PC, which could change your audio settings and mess with audio output. To identify and remove malicious software and prevent infections from happening, it’s best to use an antivirus like Norton 360 to detect any malicious activity and stop the malware from causing more harm.

Computer Speaker Audio on Laptop

Can any antivirus software stop viruses and malware?

The best antivirus software will stop malware in its tracks. Not all antivirus software is equal, as some don’t have high malware detection and protection rates or have accredited lab scores to back them up.

However, many high-standard AV protections offer near-perfect scores when detecting and protecting against malware, meaning even complex malicious software can’t go unnoticed. No malicious app can hide from a thorough antivirus scan, even if it looks harmless to you.

Services, including Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) and Bitdefender (from $19.99/year), include device monitoring features to help uncover suspicious activity early and offer the tools to fight off cyberattacks. Whether its a phishing attack, ransomware, spyware or infostealer malware, these security products have the tools to protect you.

These services have protection features that block malicious activity on your device. To make sure your device is ready to identify and block malware damaging your system, set yourself up with an antivirus.

Best antivirus to prevent viruses and malware

1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023

Norton 360 on Laptop scaled

“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990. 

Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats. 

Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.

If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.

Read our full Norton 360 review

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2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools

Bitdefender Lead Image scaled

Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.

Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.

It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need. 

Read our full Bitdefender review

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3. Malwarebytes 🥉 From $44.99/year
Best antivirus for Windows PC

Malwarebytes Logo scaled

Hundreds of malware emerge every minute, and it’s Malwarebytes’ mission to detect and conquer them all. Does the antivirus do this successfully? Yes, but there’s wiggle room for improvements.

Malwarebytes’ no-nonsense approach to protecting your devices from the onslaught of malware and viruses is effective for those who need a reliable antivirus that will detect and remove malicious software, especially with its free version. However, while its premium service provides 24/7 real-time detection, conveniently blocks vicious ransomware and shields users from malicious websites, it doesn’t go beyond on the feature front.

That’s no bad thing, as sometimes a user only needs a powerful antivirus to keep them safe from cyber threats. But considering its competitors add a few more security tools, such as data breach monitoring and a firewall, there’s room for improvement. 

Read our full Malwarebytes review

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4. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!

Avast One logo on laptop

With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.

Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.

It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.

Read our full Avast One review

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5. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for + free plan available!

AVG Antivirus logo scaled

You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.

AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.

Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.

Read our full AVG Antivirus review

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Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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