I checked out your suggestion of "System Settings > Sound > Applications
and verify (while running) that the problematic applications aren't muted or 
have different volume": check was Ok. I'll try the reverting to previous 
pulseaudio suggestion later. I have a question. This PC doesn't play an mp3 
file audibly either with usb speakers or with hdmi to a monitor containing 
speakers. However, Sound Settings plays sound Ok when doing test of it. Also, 
on another Ubuntu 16.04 computer (same make & model), with sound played through 
speakers connected by jack plug to headphones/speaker output socket, mp3 files 
played Ok with vlc. Is there a way of testing that pulseaudio is being used by 
an app and/or the method of connecting speakers (i.e. usb, hdmi, jack plug)?

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  No audio on vlc or videos sound or video files

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