April 2024 Update

At the time of this update, the frequency and amount of reports of this issue has reduced to the point where we believe it may have been resolved. Unfortunately we were not able to pinpoint the root cause of the problem nor the solution that may have fixed it. However, from our observations it seems to have been related to the presence of the webcam’s audio input (microphone) conflicting with the Windows Audio service. 

We can’t say with certainty that the problem has been resolved or if the number of reports has simply reduced to near zero. If you do experience this problem, please feel free to contact our support email (support@plugable.com) for troubleshooting assistance.

In the interest of preserving the details about this problem, the full original Blog post is below.

Summary: After a recent Windows 11 update, when certain webcams are connected to the host computer, all of the Windows audio outputs could stop working

At Plugable, one element that sets us apart from the competition is that our technical support staff also helps develop our products.  This technical expertise, combined with constant collaboration and communication, allows us to recognize patterns when unexpected problems occur.

As an example, we recently started receiving reports that went something like this:

“I have a Plugable USB docking station, and it has been working properly for quite some time with my Windows 11 computer. 

After a recent Windows update, whenever I connect the docking station to my computer, all of the audio output devices (for example, the speakers built-in to my laptop or the speakers connected to the docking station) do not work. In fact, they are not even detected by the computer.

What is causing this, and can you please help?”

Our support team worked together on this issue, and ultimately, it was determined that the cause of the problem was a device connected to the Plugable USB docking station, not the docking station itself.

In each of the cases we have received, the cause of the problem was a webcam connected to the computer, whether it was connected via the Plugable USB docking station or if the webcam was connected directly to the computer. 

In our support cases, the models of webcam in use included Logitech C920 and C922 model webcams and one Razer webcam (the model number was not provided) however, there could be others.

For some reason, when the webcam was connected to the computer, the Windows Audio service (which controls all of the audio devices connected to the computer) would stop running.

This behavior would occur if the webcam was connected through a USB docking station or connected directly to the computer without the USB docking station being connected. Since the Windows Audio service was not running, no audio devices connected to the computer would function. As a result, Windows would report that no audio output devices were available, similar to the example below:

Once we determined the cause (which was happily not our product), we started to search for similar reports online. In doing so, we found several that matched the description provided by our customers. 

A few such examples are:

Within the links above there does not appear to be one definitive solution for this condition in all cases, however the procedure below appears to have helped many:

  1. Connect the webcam directly to the computer
  2. Open the Windows Device Manager application
  3. Scroll down to the section entitled, ‘Sound, Video and Game Controllers’ and click on the arrow next the name to expand the category
  4. Right-click on the webcam device, and from the context menu that appears click the option for ‘Disable’
  5. Please note you most likely will need to repeat this process each time you reboot

To be clear, Plugable has not been able to determine the true root cause of this issue. Plugable has been able to isolate the cause to the presence of the webcam. However, we are not sure of the specific reasons why the webcam’s presence causes the problem.  

With that said, anecdotal evidence suggests that this behavior started with a recent Windows Update however, Plugable is not able to confirm this in fact the case. This is because we have not been able to replicate the behavior in our test lab. 

While we are not able to determine the true cause of the behavior at this time, nor can we provide a definitive solution to the issue, we wanted to share this information with our readers in the hopes it may be helpful.

We will update this post as we learn more about what specific component about the webcam connection causes this audio issue.

As always, if any of our customers experience any problems using their Plugable products, please reach out to us directly via → support@plugable.com or leave a comment below; we will be happy to help. 

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