Problem Fixed… sorta

After a bit of messing around, fixing it was just as simple as disabling Realtek HD Audio in the device manager. Yaay.
Though either my hearing got used to low-sound whilst I was working on it, or the computer’s volume levels are shifted up somewhat. Computer volume is very low for everything, and WinAMP is set pretty low too, at the moment, and I can still hear things clearly. I’ll work on fixing that tomorrow, or at least get to working out whether it’s a problem in the first place.

Realtek may be evil

So like a dutiful Windows XP user, when I get told that there are updates for XP that need to be installed on my computer, I let the computer install them.
To be honest, I don’t really have a choice. Either I install when it prompts me, or it installs automatically whenever I try to shutdown or restart, and it’s far too much of a bother to be always-vigilant.

Unfortunately, this seems to have broken sound on my computer. Somewhat.

See, following the install of Service Pack 3, Windows started telling me that it’s detected an audio device is connected. Well, duh. I listen to music practically the entire day on my to-this-day-faithful-and-reliable headphones. It says it can search for drivers. After the first few times clicking ‘not this time’ to the Windows driver-search-and-install thing on startup, I fall to the same flaw of mine that led to SP3 being installed.
Cue, post-driver-install, sound for clips or videos viewed online breaking. Oh, and viewing clips and videos online – clips from YouTube, Vimeo and other popular sites like that just started failing a few seconds of soundless motion in. Skipping ahead? Wherever I picked, it worked for a second or two… then stopped, just the same.
Then, one restart later to see if THAT cleared up, I have no sound at all. Well, save system sound effects. I suppose ‘no music at all’ is clearer. This is effectively no sound, though, as I habitually disable each and every sound effect for most things with the option to do so, Windows itself included.

So here I am, going a little spare with only the hum of the computer’s fan, the tapping and clicking of the keyboard, and the distant noise of traffic to comfort me. Just in case something I do manages to fix things, WinAMP is running in the background, vainly trying to play something random.
I can’t help but want to blame the ‘Realtek HD Audio’ thing, the driver XP saw fit to want to install. Previously, XP ran fine with just a generic ‘USB Audio Device’. Apparently other people have been having problems with this, but most proposed solutions I’ve seen thus far involve checking to make sure it isn’t muted – it’s not, I checked, and I have seen things that have set things to mute by default, or like my ‘USB Audio Device’, which shifts everything to FULL VOLUME whenever it’s (re)connected to a computer, so… I’d prefer muteness – or checking some hidden option for audio devices as Realtek apparently disables devices on a whim, or something like that, but the steps given to found that thing seem not to be possible, here.

Gaaaah. I want my music back. A friend suggests just System Restore-ing the life out of whatever gremlin caused this. Tempted to do just that, but I can’t help but want to know what caused the problem in the first place, so I don’t hit it again.