My computer periodically makes a random ding (among other sounds), and I can't figure out the source.

Suggestions on SU include

  1. using bar indicators in the volume mixer to look for the source. This won't work because the sounds are far too brief in duration to "catch" them this way.

  2. Using process monitor to identify all .wav files being accessed on disk. I am not convinced that this is a system sound or a .wav file. It may be a web plugin, flash movie in one of my open tabs, or something else.

Is there any way to use process monitor or a similar tool to identify the process that is actually writing data to the sound card? Is there some windows API or driver request that I can filter for in process monitor?

  • you should say what OS you are running
    – Keltari
    Feb 24, 2014 at 23:31

2 Answers 2


The sounds are likely coming from the default Sound Scheme in Windows which generates sounds for lots of events like device connect and disconnect. Switching to the "No Sounds" scheme will make things a lot quieter. Can also turn individual sounds on/off if you like some audio cues.

All sound produced by a sound theme goes out through the "System Sounds" entry in the volume control mixer. The programs themselves don't access the sound card.

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A Windows message queue viewer like Spy++ (included in some Microsoft Developer tools) might be able to capture and show the underlying messages that trigger the sounds. Probably not worth the effort as likely the only place to turn the sound off will be in the sound scheme anyway.

  • Thanks Brian -- this suggestion did help me find one of the sounds I was looking for.. Not really the answer to the underlying question, i.e. how do I intercept and log interprocess communication with the sound card. Nov 18, 2013 at 4:53
  • All the sound scheme sounds are produced by "System Sounds" so the programs in question never open or use the sound card directly.
    – Brian
    Nov 18, 2013 at 5:23

If the ding is happening frequently enough, then go into the Task Manager's process list.

Kill slowly (not too hastily) one process after another (don't do it while you work and have some documents open) until the Ding stops. The last process killed is most likely the ding-er.

Begin with such processes which run with the credentials of your account.

If none of those processes is the cause, show processes from all users (a button or checkbox at the bottom of the Task Manager's process window) and continue with killing other processes.

Note that this procedure might make your currently running desktop session unstable. Hence, after finishing with it, it is recommended to reboot your machine.

If the ding continues to happen, you might also have an issue with the sound driver (unlikely, but possible). If the sound software/driver is buggy, or the sound playback buffer gets corrupted somehow, the sound playback buffer might play endlessly in a loop, even if no application is outputting any sound anymore.

  • Good suggestion, but unfortunately it's sporadic and definitely not frequent enough to play the process-of-elimination game. Nov 18, 2013 at 4:44

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