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Resolving Microphone and Line-in Problems (Windows 7)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq computers with Windows 7.
This document provides solutions to a variety of problems that can occur when using microphones and other line-in sources such as digital audio players, portable disc players, and other types of sound devices.
NOTE:Make sure Windows can produce sounds from the speakers before using this article. If the computer cannot play any sound from the speakers, see one of the following support documents:

Resolving most types of common microphone/line-in problems in Windows 7

Use the following steps to test, check hardware and connections, update audio drivers, and configure Windows sound settings. If you follow these steps in proper order, you will fix the problem or you will find that the audio software needs to be configured or updated.

Step 1: Testing for an audio signal in Windows 7

Use this process to find out if Windows can detect an audio signal from the microphone or from the line-in port.
NOTE:If you are testing the line-in port, and if the source device has a volume control, turning the volume up too high on the source device can cause distortion and might damage the audio hardware. Start with the volume low and slowly turn it up until recording is at the desired level. Never turn up the volume more than half way on the source device.
  1. Click Start , and then click Control Panel .
  2. Click Hardware and Sounds , and then click Managing audio devices .
    A Sound window opens.
  3. Click the Recording tab.
  4. To test the microphone, speak into it. To test line-in, send a signal to the line-in port from the source audio device (press play from the audio player). Look at the gray bars next to the device name on the recording tab:
    • If the gray bars next to the device name change to green, this device is active and an audio signal is passing through the microphone or line-in port. This step shows that the problem is related to sound settings in the software that uses the microphone. If you have not already done so, set the selected device to default and adjust the volume levels as shown in Step 3 . When the device is set to default and the levels are set, use and adjust the sound recording or voice carrying software.
    • If the gray bars remain gray and inactive, the device is not recognizing a signal. Leave the recording tab open and go to the next step.
    Figure 1: Sound: Recording tab showing a detected signal for the Microphone device
     Sound window with Recording tab showing a detected signal for the Microphone device

Step 2: Checking connections and hardware to resolve microphone and line-in problems

Try each of the following connection tips, if they apply to your situation, to correct issues involving microphone connections:
Tip 1: Connect the microphone (or the source device used for line-in) into another computer or audio device. For example, to check a microphone you can plug the microphone into a tape recorder. If the tape recorder can record sound, the microphone and cable are good. If a microphone or source device does not work with another audio device, replace it.
Tip 2: Disconnect and reconnect the plug. Even if the plug was already connected to the correct connector, reconnecting might help if there is a connection problem between the plug and socket.
Tip 3: If you are using a USB microphone, try a different USB connector. If the USB microphone came with software, make sure it is installed properly and is compatible with Windows 7.
Tip 4: Know and use the correct microphone connector on your computer when connecting the microphone to the computer.

Identifying microphone and line-in connectors on desktop PCs

  • The microphone connector is usually pink.
  • The line-in connector is usually blue.
    Figure 2: Example of audio connectors on a desktop PC: pink for microphone, blue for line-in
    Image of desktop audio connectors.

Identifying microphone and headphone connectors on notebook PCs

There are two types of headphone connectors on HP computers:
  • The first type supports only sound to the headphones.
  • The second type supports both sound to the headphones and the use of a microphone .
    The connectors are marked with symbols next to them.
    Figure 3: Example of microphone and headphone connectors on notebook PCs
    Image of audio ports on a notebook.

Making sure the microphone plug works with the computer connector

Headphones use either a four-point plug or a three-point plug. Each of these plugs perform different audio funtions. Make sure the plug is connected to the correct computer connector, as described below.
  • Connectors on the computer marked with a headset with a microphone, , support sound and the use of a microphone when used with a headset with a four-pin plug and a microphone.
    Figure 4: Four-pin plug
    Four-pin jack
    To use the microphone and hear sound from the computer, the four-pin plug and four-pin connector must be used .
    NOTE:Using a four-pin plug that is capable of supporting a microphone in a three-pin connector allows sound to be heard, but the microphone does not work because the computer's three-pin connector does not support a microphone.
  • Connectors on the computer marked with a headset only, , support output sound only and work with a standard three-pin headphone or a four-pin headphone, for sound only.
    Figure 5: Standard three-pin plug
    Standard three-pin jack

Step 3: Checking volume and mute settings in Windows 7

The speaker volume for the microphone and line-in might be muted or turned down, causing microphone and line-in problems. Use the following steps to check the speaker volume levels for line-in and microphone:
  1. Unplug all headphones or audio devices before starting.
  2. Click Start , and then click Control Panel .
    Control Panel opens.
    Figure 6: Control Panel
    Image of Control Panel with Hardware and Sound highlighted
  3. Click Hardware and Sound .
    Hardware and Sound opens.
    Figure 7: Hardware and Sound
    Image of Hardware and Sound window with Sound highlighted
  4. Click Sound .
    The Sound window opens.
    Figure 8: Sound window
    Image of Sound window with speakers device highlighted
  5. Select Speakers , and then click Properties .
    The Speakers Properties window opens.
    Figure 9: Speakers Properties window
    Image of the Speaker Properties window
  6. Click the Levels tab.
    Figure 10: Levels tab
    Levels tab
  7. Click the Muted button next to Microphone and any other line-in that is muted.
  8. Use the slider bar to raise the level for Microphone and each line-in to at least 75.
    Figure 11: Speaker Levels
    Image of Speaker levels set to 75
  9. Click OK .

Step 4: Using Windows 7 Automated Troubleshooting to correct microphone and line-in problems

The Troubleshooting tool in Windows 7 can automatically fix common problems with your computer, such as audio recording. Although it may not fix every problem, it is useful to run the Troubleshooting tool first before you manually correct problems.
To use the Troubleshooting tool:
  1. Click Start , enter troubleshooting in the search field and select Troubleshooting from the list.
  2. Under Hardware and Sound, click Troubleshoot audio recording and then click Next when the Recording Audio window opens.
    Figure 12: Hardware and Sound
    Hardware and sound selections
  3. Select the device you would like to troubleshoot and then click Next .
If a recommended action displays, select Apply this fix or Skip this step to continue to search for other problems. If your problem has not been resolved, continue to manually troubleshoot using the rest of this document.

Step 5: Checking the audio drivers in Windows 7 to resolve microphone and line-in problems

You might find that a front microphone port does not work, a recording device is missing from the recording tab, a microphone is not recognized when it is plugged in, or other problem. There might be updated audio drivers that can fix these types of issues.
Use the following steps to make sure audio drivers are up to date:
  1. Connect to the Internet.
  2. Click Start , and type device manager in the Start search field.
    A Device Manager window opens.
  3. Double-click Sound, video and game controllers .
  4. Right-click the name of the sound hardware and select Update Driver Software... .
    Figure 13: Device Manager: Update Driver Software
    Image of the Device Manager window with Sound, video and game controllers selected
  5. Click Search automatically for updated driver software and wait for Windows to update the driver software.
    Figure 14: Updated Driver Software: Search automatically for updated driver software
    Image of the Update Driver Software Window for High Definition Audio Device with Search automatically for updated driver software highlighted
  6. Windows checks a remote Web site to see if updated driver software is available.
    • If an update is available, let Windows install the update.
    • If an update is not available, skip to the next step.
  7. When the update is installed successfully, test the microphone or line-in as was done in step 1. If the problem persists, go to the next step.
    Figure 15: Updated Driver Software: Success
    Image of Update Driver Software window showing successfully updated driver software

Step 6: Configuring recording settings in Windows 7

By default, Windows 7 automatically enables microphones and line-in ports. Use the following steps to set the microphone/line-in port to be the default port and to configure the recording levels:
  1. If the Recording tab in the sound window is not selected, open the Sound window and click the Recording tab using the instructions in Step 1.
    NOTE:Your desktop or notebook PC configuration may include different components then shown here.
    Figure 16: Example desktop PC with a Realtek on-board audio hardware configuration)
    Image of the Sound window with Recording tab selected showing working and disabled devices
    1 - Microphone port - working and set as Default
    2 - Line In - Working
    3 - Digital In (S/PDIF port) - Working
    4 - Stereo Mix (Software mixer) - Disabled
  2. If multiple microphones or line-in ports are available, select the port that you want to use. Click Set Default to make this device the default audio input device.
  3. If the device you want to use contains a small circle with an arrow pointing down, the device is disabled. To enable the device, right-click the device name and select Enable .
  4. With the device selected, click Properties , and then click the Levels tab.
    Figure 17: Microphone Properties: Levels tab
    Image of Microphone Properties window with Levels tab highlighted
  5. Adjust the slider to 75.
  6. If Mute is on, click the mute button to un-mate the device. The mute button should show as a blue speaker without a red circle .
  7. If Microphone Boost is available, adjust to +20.0 dB.
  8. Click OK to make the changes.
  9. Test the microphone using the instructions in Step 1 to determine if Windows is able to detect a signal for the microphone or line-in being used. If you have performed all the steps and the microphone or source device still does not work, the audio ports or sound hardware on the computer might be bad.

Microphone does not work with network messaging software (chat, online game, and virtual meeting software) in Windows 7

If the microphone works in Windows, but does not work with a specific software application, such as Internet chat software, the most likely cause is that the microphone needs to be selected and configured in the software application. For example, in many versions of Windows Live Messenger, once you are logged in, you can select tools and then Audio and Video Setup to access a window that allows you to select your microphone from a list of audio input devices. Other popular software titles, such as Skype and Yahoo Messenger have similar settings. Look for sound and audio setup options in the software you want to use to select your microphone.
If the microphone is selected and configured in your software and it does not work, updating the audio drivers or the Internet messaging software may resolve this problem.
Figure 18: Windows Live Messenger Example
Image of Windows live messenger showing an expanded drop down menu

Microphone fails after a web camera or a USB microphone is installed in Windows 7

To use the microphone on a Web camera or a USB microphone, it might need to be configured separately using the software that came with the device. Make sure the USB device and any associated software is compatible with Windows 7. If you want to use a different microphone than the USB microphone or Web camera, select the default microphone that Windows will use. For more information on how to set a default microphone, use Step 6: Configuring recording settings in Windows 7 section in this document. Refer to the support Web site of the manufacturer of the Web camera or USB microphone for more information.

Using Windows Sound Recorder to test the microphone in Windows 7

Find out if your computer can record a signal from the microphone and play it back. Use Windows Sound Recorder to create an audio file using the following steps:
  1. Plug the microphone into the computer.
  2. Click Start , All Programs , Accessories , and select Sound Recorder .
  3. Click Start Recording (the red circle) and speak into the microphone.
    Figure 19: Sound Recorder initial screen
  4. When finished recording, click Stop Recording .
    Figure 20: Sound Recorder while recording
    A save screen automatically opens.
  5. Type a filename and click Save . A file of type WAV or WMA is created in the Documents folder.
    Figure 21: Sound Recorder Save As screen
    Image of Sound Recorder Save As screen
  6. Find and double-click the filename of your recording to play back the recorded sound. The file should play from the sound software that is associated with the audio file type - either WAV or WMA. You can open the sound file using Windows Media Player.
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