Audio issues have plagued many and for different reasons. Unfortunately, they can come from many different sources: the system, the Assets or from various settings in the NLE (Non Linear Editor) program. There are just so many places to look and things to consider. This is a general step-by-step troubleshooting guide. It’s basically for Adobe PrElements and PrPro, but much will apply to other programs. Because there are differences in how PrElements and PrPro handle some aspects of audio, I’ll try to define when some tip is for one, but not the other.
First thing to consider is your system. Check first, whether you have sound in other program, like players. [Note on that later.] If you do not have sound in, say Windows Media Player, then you need to troubleshoot with your system. In your OS, go to Control Panel and check your Sounds & Audio Devices (or similar syntax, depending on the version of the OS that you have). Is audio Muted, or turned down? Correct it, if so. Are speakers plugged in, turned on and powered up, if they require power? Correct if necessary.
If all is good there, check to see if your audio card has a console/control panel. Check the settings there. Along the way, make a note of the mfgr. and model of the card, plus check to see which driver you have installed. If all checks out there, move on to the driver.
Audio and video drivers can be rendered obsolete with just a simple OS update, or hot-fix. These might be installed without your knowledge, as the default is usually to automatically install all OS updates. Some people have this set to semi-automatic, or fully manual. Those people will at least know that an update has been done. Now for that “note,” that I promised. With audio drivers, some programs, like simple players, can still get audio from an obsolete driver. NLE programs often cannot, because they interface much more closely with the audio (and video) driver, and will require an updated driver. Download and install the latest one. I update about every release, whether I have issues, or not.
If all still checks out, but you do not have audio yet, think about your Assets. Does the audio play in a simple player? If not, then that could well be the problem. If it does, you can probably move on to the NLE and its settings. Also, in the NLE, check the audio in the program’s Source Monitor, to make sure that the audio got into the program, whether it is muxed (contained in one audio and video file, or is a separate audio-only Asset. Too often, users will not wait for the audio files to be Conformed and their PEK (Audio Waveform Display) files to be generated. This can result in a loss of all audio.
Here, PrE and PrPro are very similar, in that they each have both an Audio and an Audio Hardware settings screen under Edit>Preferences>Audio and Audio Hardware. Remember that audio card, that you took down the make and model for? You will want to make sure that it is the chosen device in the Preferences screens. Check very carefully.
In Audio Hardware, note the ASIO Settings button, or tab. Go there, and check all settings carefully, making sure that they match for your audio card - perfectly. ASIO settings can be a bit tricky, and the ASIO interface can be fragile. Some cards and devices do not provide full ASIO support and you need this badly. In case your card/device does not, you can use a free driver, ASIO4ALL. You will need to download, and install it, and then point both the Input and Output to ASIO4ALL. This little free driver has solved all sorts of ASIO issues from simple cards and chips to esoteric studio equipment. It works great in 99% of the cases.
Now, we’ve ruled out things like system settings, and audio card/chip drivers, plus the Preferences in your NLE. Everything is set correctly, but there is no audio in your NLE, and we know that it is NOT your Assets, because we’ve checked those. It’s gotta’ be somewhere else. This is where it can get tricky, especially as there are several differences between PrE and PrPro here.
Fist place to check is the Audio Mixer (in either program, Window>Audio Mixer), and check that the Mute is not ON. While there, play your Audio and watch the meters. Do they show a signal for that Audio Track? Now, go to your Timeline and look at the Audio Track. Can you see a Waveform Display? You might want to zoom in both horizontally and vertically on that Audio Track, to check.
In PrPro, check to see if the little “speaker” icon is on in the Audio Track Header. If not, turn it ON. Also, Rt-click on your Audio Clip and see if Enable is checked. If not, Enable it.
In both, Rt-click on the Audio Clip and choose Audio Gain. Is it set to ~ 0 dB? If not, you have attenuated your audio. Is that what you intended to do? If not, correct this.
Now, Volume is a fixed Effect and will appear in the Effects Control Panel. This can be set, or Keyframed. In PrPro, look at the mini-Timeline in that panel to see if you have any Keyframes. Explore them, as they may have been set improperly. In PrE, look at the Keyframes (and the orange line in the Timeline) in the Audio Clip. Similar for PrPro. That orange line should be in the middle of the Audio Track, unless you had a good reason to drag it down. It’s easy to accidently drag this down, when trying to move a Clip around. Check carefully.
In PrPro, you can toggle the Audio Display between Track Keyframes and Clip Keyframes. Check both. PrE does not allow one to toggle this type of display, only whether the Waveform is displayed, or not. The Track Keyframes can adjust Volume, and are most often added via the automation in Audio Mixer. These Keyframes stay on the Audio Track, and do not move, as one moves Clips. This can get in the way, if one has attenuated the Track’s Volume, and then replaced the Clip(s) there with others. Clip Keyframes stay with the Clip(s), as it’s moved about the Timeline. Those are most often added in the Effects Control Panel, though can also be added in the Timeline.
Once one has checked their system, the Assets, all possible hardware settings in the NLE and then checked each of these locations, where audio attenuation can be set, they will usually have located their problem.