I have three entries in my Windows 10s Device Manager that have Realtek in their label:

enter image description here

I'm trying to troubleshoot a long-lasting audio issue with the volume of my USB headset speakers (the USB PnP Sound Device in that picture), and I'm running low on ideas. Could these Realtek entries relate to USB headset sound in any way? If so, why/how?

  • I have RealTek Audio on this computer and it does not differentiate between audio devices used. Windows does that.
    – John
    Sep 19 at 21:53
  • 1
    Your USB headset should be it's own audio device and not related to the realtek junk. And I too have realtek junk (I think we all do these days). Sep 19 at 22:06
  • @SeñorCMasMas It makes sense that it's its own device. I've heard that Realtek is an audio codec, not a soundcard? If it were a soundcard, I'd find your statement to be almost self-evident; I'm not plugging this USB device into the computer's audio ports. But if it's a codec, I'm still confused. Wikipedia says a codec could be a device or software, and I'm not sure which one this is. My only frame of reference are the codecs used for software video players, and I've always been under the impression that all software players on the system share them. Sep 19 at 23:03
  • @Ramhound I'm not asking why I have this particular device, I'm asking what effect it could have on USB headsets. Sep 19 at 23:05
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    @DanielKaplan "codec" covers a multitude of sins, it is literally a contraction "coder/decoder" and while we know of software blobs that decode video and audio as "codecs" the name can also apply to hardware devices. The Realtek Audio Codec is a combination of software and hardware for Realtek audio devices.
    – Mokubai
    Sep 19 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


If you have a USB headset then it will be completely separate and independent from the Realtek audio system.

The Realtek devices will control the various 3.5mm sockets on your motherboard. You will most likely find them on your back panel and may also have them on the case as well:

enter image description here

USB devices on the other hand are distinct audio devices in their own right. They have their own drivers, both software within the operating system and hardware driving the speakers.

I cannot speak for your actual problem but judging by the "USB PnP Sound Device" I would suspect that you have a very generic USB headset and it may be that the hardware is not 100% compliant with how the generic driver is passing data to it.

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