Listen to this device audio input monitoring stopped working

I have a line level input connected to the line in jack on an Aspire 8930 laptop running Windows 7 x64 (Ultimate) (Realtek built-in audio).  The Sound applet, Recording tab, shows a suitable audio input level and I am able to record using any audio software and playback the recording just fine.  I can monitor the input on the same audio device (built-in laptop speakers).

Up until very recently I was able to use the 'Listen to this device' option on the Listen tab of the Line In properties and choose a 'playback through this device' output option that differed than the Realtek device itself (I have a Jabra headset and a Sennheiser audio device that I have connected to speakers, both are connected to the laptop via USB).  I was able to listen to the input audio on either device as selected without issue.

I discovered today that this no longer works.  Signal is there, I can record and see it.  But the audio can't be heard, no matter what device I choose.  Outputs are working fine (I can listen to music, hear them 'ding' as I adjust volume, etc.).  

I've worked around it for the moment using the virtual audio cable trial, audio repeater utility.  Chose both the input and output devices and can listen to it fine.

Note that the problem doesn't seem to be isolated to the Realtek audio card.  I used the Sennheiser input rather than the Realtek line in and experienced the same issue - the LIsten to this device feature did not work.  

I'd like to know what went wrong.  Any help would be appreciated - thanks.
Who is Participating?
maybe an update caused it - try uninstalling the updates from yesterday/today
or do a system restore to a date it was ok
mattd_brAuthor Commented:
Well this certainly sucks.

I had researched yesterday regarding this issue before posting here and the only fix that apparently worked was as you (nobus) suggested, someone with the same issue resolved it by uninstalling all recent applications and updates and it repaired itself.  They didn't, however, return to indicate which specific update caused the issue.  Before posting here I had uninstalled the few updates that were installed about 2 weeks ago and there was no change (none seemed remotely related and wouldn't seem to have an impact on anything like this).  Problem is, I'm not sure exactly when it stopped working as I don't use this too often.

That said, for whatever reason, everything is working again today.  I had installed all updates again (and all new updates, including optional ones) yesterday and rebooted.  At night I turn the machine off.  This morning I thought to try and the Listen on this device option is functional again.

I don't believe this had anything to do with updates or installation.  I notice that USB devices in the hubs don't always initiate at the same rate when booting/getting into Windows - I think timing in initializing these devices may have had an impact.  For example, my default audio output device is the Sennheiser but the audio volume sidebar widget doesn't always show the volume of the Sennheiser, depending on whether the USB adapter has 'connected' before it loads or not.  Seeing as two of the three audio devices are USB connected - if I run into this again I will try to repatch the Jabra (for example) to connect straight into the laptop without the hub.  Powering off rather than just rebooting may have given devices a rest time and had an impact on the initialization order or something?

Thanks for the assistance.
mattd_brAuthor Commented:
Assigning partial points to nobus for the assistance, but Windows updates did not seem related to the issue.  Problem went away after powering off and may be boot time related (system initializes quickly given that it's running off an SSD - some hardware may not be initializing in time for certain components to recognize them properly?)
tx for the feedback - appreciated!
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