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My Dell audio dilemma possibly solved

November 25, 2017 • Derek

For the last month, I have owned and enjoyed a refurbished Dell E7240 ultrabook. One of the cooler aspects of this machine is that the battery, ram, and harddrive can easily be replaced. The only disadvantage of this computer is that, like many similar Dell computers, the default audio configuration is hideous!

Take a loud obnoxious FM station, tune the radio off frequency a bit, and, short of the noise, you have the actual result of the waves max technology. The internal speakers actually sound ok…ish, but said processed audio through headphones is intolerable; not just to me, but to many others who wish to completely disable all of the “enhancements” as well.

The solution to making the audio as nice as the rest of the machine is to go in to the Dell audio control panel, and disable speaker and microphone enhancements. Two little check boxes, one big difference!
The problem is that you can’t use any screen access software to perform this deceptively simple task. Furthermore, Uninstalling the dell drivers results in 1 of 2 problems with both of the generic realtek drivers I found. One allows the speakers to work, but not the headphones, and the other gives you the opposite problem! Needless to say, installing a different driver when ever I want to switch between them will not be the thing that happens! The most reliable fix, so it seemed, was to get a friend to remote in to the machine, and uncheck the two little inaccessible boxes.

All was well until the latest windows update. Something reset the audio to it’s defaults, so obviously the “waves max” processing is, in my opinion, as stubborn as it is stupid. Uninstalling, then reinstalling the driver that I had downloaded before the windows update didn’t bring back my old settings. At least I learned from that failed experiment that this process doesn’t leave any rogue files or registry entries behind. This observation made me curious…

I asked around, and was told about regshot. This application takes two snapshots of the registry. The first is to be taken before you make a change to a system, and the second is to be taken afterward. Any number of things can be done with the results, including writing the differences to a text file, which I did. The comparison presented several changes, but I’m going to make a few assumptions and explanations about what was revealed.

  • The text file created by regshot refers to “HKLM\SOFTWARE” but that path does not exist anywhere, so I’m guessing that the keys are actually located in “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE.”
  • There are no applications or services which are referenced in all of the data added/changed, which leads me to believe that it may be possible to delete “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Waves Audio.”
  • If you were to take that risk then restart the computer, you may either be presented with no audio, processed audio with the inability to actually do anything about it, or nicely unprocessed audio.

Of course, the best thing to do before trying anything would be to export something before you play with/delete it. However, possibly for your convenience, I’ve exported the realtek and waves keys, as well as included the text file generated by regshot, which you can download. This way, if you want to make your own conclusions, or modify them in any way, you can. If I’m wrong about any of this, or you have speculations of your own that may be of use, comment on this post, or join the discussion my original post of this created on twitter.

Several have responded with very helpful solutions, which were much simpler, and effective for them. I just wasn’t that lucky, but you may be.

Author: Derek

Categories: Uncategorized • Tags: , ,

3 opinions on “My Dell audio dilemma possibly solved

  1. Why not just disable Waves audio from starting with windows… That has always worked fine. I think you may be over complicating this.

    1. Great thought. I failed to mention that I had tried that before I asked someone to take a look at the dell audio control panel. The only thing that happened when that application was disabled at startup was that the system tray icon didn’t exist. If killing a service was the solution, I would have been a very happy person!

  2. Hmm. I thought for sure that’s how I did it the last time I had this issue. I’ll check my Dell out later and see if I can remember exactly how I did it.

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