Realtek Audio Control Panel wont open
Hello out there; first time on this forum, but first time I've hit a problem I can't seem to find a working solution for, so I hope someone can help. I've seen similar issues, and tried multiple solutions, but so far nothing has changed.
I recently purchased a Dell XPS laptop running Windows7 (upgrade from my old Lenovo which ran VistaSP2), and it comes with the Realtek HD Audio Manager. Fantastic sound from the internal JBL speakers and subwoofer - I have no complaints about Realtek's driver. My problem is that, when I plug my headphones in, the sound continues to play from the speakers, and nothing from the headphones. Suggestions online said to change headphones to the default in Control Panel > Sound, but my headphones don't appear on the list. I also noticed I wasn't getting the notifications for headphones plugged in / unplugged; I checked, and the notifications are enabled, so clearly the problem is that my headphones aren't being detected (tried with multiple headsets and speakers to be sure). Another check online said to change the settings for auto-detection in the Realtek HD Audio Control Panel, found under the Windows control panel or from the orange icon in the task bar.
OK, so here it is: the Control Panel wont open. I found the icon in the Windows control panel, but the Realtek software wont load. I don't even have the orange icon in my taskbar, just a black-and-white icon that does nothing. The Realtek HD Audio Manager works great, except I can't access the Control Panel to fix my problems.
Every solution I've found just involved reinstalling the Realtek Audio Manager. I tried rolling back to the original version on the CD that came with my laptop; I've updated through Dell's site; I've updated to the newest version from Realtek's site; I've tried downloading it and updating manually through the Device Manager. I even tried running the compatibility version for Vista which worked so well on my old laptop. After many reboots, I've successfully updated the DRIVER over and over again, with no change to the CONTROL PANEL.
So is there some compatibility issue here, or how do I get the Realtek HD Audio CONTROL PANEL (not just the driver/audio manager) to work on Windows 7 as I've seen screenshots of it from many other users?