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When I try to play audio CDs, I can't hear the music on the speakers connected to my sound card
Explanation: You are not able to hear music played by audio CDs on your sound card, even though the sound card works (because you are able to hear sounds being generated by programs).
Diagnosis: All CD-ROM drives have the ability to play audio CDs, when the correct program is loaded that knows how to access them. Most also have a headphone jack on the front to let you listen to CD music directly. However, in order to be able to have CD audio play on your sound card, they need to be connected directly to it. Most CD-ROM drives come with a thin, three-wire cable to enable this. If the cable is not connected, or is connected improperly, the CD-ROM drive and sound card will be isolated.
Note: You may find this
confusing because you may notice that a piece of music, say stored as a WAV file on a CD,
will still play even though music CDs don't. The reason is that the music is being played
in a totally different way. In the first case, the WAV file is a computer file like any
other, being played on the sound card by a computer program. In the second, the CD-ROM
itself is playing the disk and converting it directly to an analog audio stream. It is
this information that requires the direct connection. The distinction here is the
difference between music in audio CD format and music in CD-ROM data format. See this section of the Reference Guide on CD