How to Fix High Definition Audio Controller Code 10 [2021 Update]

Ariel Mu
5 min readAug 20, 2021

When opening the properties of the audio device, many users find the High Definition Audio controller code 10 error. After analyzing extensive user reports and posts, we found that the error is often related to the corrupted or incompatible sound card driver. In addition, some other factors like disabled Windows Audio service, faulty devices, and corrupt registry keys are responsible for the error code.

To fix the issue, you can perform a simple restart of your computer first, and then check the connection of your audio device works properly. If the “this device cannot start (code 10) audio” error persists, you can move down to the following fixes.

Fix 1. Restart the Windows Audio Service

One of the common reasons for the High Definition Audio device code 10 is the disabled Windows audio service. Now, follow the steps below to check the Windows Audio service.

Step 1. Press the Win + R keys to open the Run dialog box, and then type services.msc into the box and hit Enter.

Step 3. Select the Automatic from the Startup type menu and click on Stop to stop the service first.

Step 4. Click on Start to start the service again, and then click on Apply and OK to execute the changes.

Now, you can restart your computer and check if the device cannot start code 10 Realtek High Definition Audio error is fixed.

As mentioned above, the corrupted or outdated sound card driver can trigger the Realtek High Definition Audio code 10. Here you can fix the issue by updating, rolling back, or uninstalling the sound card driver.

Once done, restart your computer and check if the device cannot start code 10 Realtek High Definition Audio error gets solved. If not, you can select Uninstall device in Step 2 and follow on-screen prompts to complete it, and then Windows will install a default sound driver automatically next time you restart.

Fix 3. Run the Playing Audio Troubleshooter

Microsoft Windows provides users with various troubleshooters to repair issues. The Playing Audio troubleshooter can be used to detect and fix issues related to the audio device. To do so, follow the steps below:

Step 1. Press Win + I keys to open the Settings window, and then navigate to Update & Security > Troubleshoot.

Step 2. In the Troubleshoot window, double click on the Playing Audio option and click on the Run the troubleshooter button.

Step 3. Then this troubleshooter will detect problems with audio automatically. If any errors are detected, you can apply these fixes you are prompted with.

After that, you can restart the commuter and see if the “High Definition Audio Device cannot start” issue is gone.

Fix 4. Check the Input and Output Devices in Settings

According to some user reports on the Microsoft forum, the High Definition Audio device code 10 issue can be fixed by changing the input or output device manually. Let’s have a try.

Step 1. Make sure you connect the sound device to your computer.

Step 4. If the error code 10 persists, you can click on the Troubleshoot button to get some fixes provided by Microsoft.

Fix 5. Delete the Corrupted Registry Entry Keys

If there are corrupted registry entry keys related to the sound driver, you may encounter the High Definition Audio controller code 10 error. In this case, you can follow the steps below to remove the corrupt entry keys.

Step 1. Press Win + R keys to open the Run dialog box, and then type regedit in it and hit Enter.

Step 2. Inside the Registry Editor window, locate the following path through the left pane:


Step 3. Then you will see a list of Class sub-keys. With the {4D36E965-E325–11CE-BFC1–08002BE10318} entry key selected, and then delete the UpperFilters and LowerFilters values from the right side.

Step 4. Exit the Registry Editor and restart your PC.

Fix 6. Perform a System Restore

If the “this device cannot start (code 10) audio” error still exists after you try all the above fixes, you may consider performing a system restore. By doing so, you can revert your system to an earlier state where the High Definition audio device functions properly. To know more detailed steps, you can read this post.


Position: Columnist

Ariel is an enthusiastic IT columnist focusing on partition management, data recovery, and Windows issues. She has helped users fix various problems like PS4 corrupted disk, unexpected store exception error, the green screen of death error, etc. If you are searching for methods to optimize your storage device and restore lost data from different storage devices, then Ariel can provide reliable solutions for these issues.

Originally published at on August 20, 2021.