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Resolving Microphone and Line-in Problems (Windows Vista)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq desktop computers with Windows Vista.
This document provides solutions to a variety of problems that can occur when using microphones and other line-in sources (such as tape players, record players, and other types of sound devices).
NOTE:Make sure that Windows can produce sounds from the speakers before using this article. If the computer can not play sound from the speakers, please refer to Resolving Sound Problems in Windows Vista .

Resolving most microphone/line-in problems

Use the following steps, in order, 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 being used needs to be configured or updated.

Step 1: Testing for an audio signal

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, keep in mind that turning the volume up too high on the source device can cause distortion and may damage the audio hardware. Start with the volume low and slowly turn it up until recording is at the desired level. Never turn the volume up more than half on the source device.
  1. Click Start , and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Hardware and Sounds, and then click Managing audio devices..
    The 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 bars next to the device name on the Recording tab:
    • If the 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 levels as shown in Step 4 . When the device is set to default and the levels are set, use and adjust the sound recording or voice carrying software.
    • If the bars remain inactive, the device is not recognizing a signal. Leave the Recording tab open and go to the next step.
    Figure 1: Sound Properties: Recording tab detecting a signal for the Microphone device
    Image of Sound Properties: Recording tab detecting a  signal for the Microphone device

Step 2: Checking connections and hardware

If possible, connect the microphone (or the source device used for line-in) into another computer or audio device. For example, to check a microphone 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.
When you have verified that the microphone (or source device) is good, plug it into the correct jack on the computer. Consider the following while checking the connections:
  • The microphone connector is usually pink.
  • The line-in connector is usually blue.
    Figure 2: Example of audio connectors: pink for microphone, blue for line-in
  • Disconnect and reconnect the plug. Even if the plug was already in the correct connector, reconnecting may help if there is a connection problem between the mini-din plug and socket.
  • If you are using a USB microphone, try a different USB connector. If the microphone came with software, make sure it is installed properly and is compatible with Vista.
Test the microphone or line-in following the instructions in Step 1. If the problem persists, go to the next step.

Step 3: Check volume levels and mute

The speaker volume for the microphone and line-in may be muted or turned down. Use the following steps to check the speaker volume levels for line-in and microphone.
  1. Click Start , and then click Control Panel.
    Control Panel opens.
    Figure 3: Control Panel
  2. Click Hardware and Sound.
    Hardware and Sound opens.
    Figure 4: Hardware and Sound
  3. Click Sound.
    The Sound window opens.
    Figure 5: Sound window
  4. Select Speakers, and then click Properties.
    The Speakers Properties window opens.
    Figure 6: Speakers Properties window
  5. Click the Levels tab.
    Figure 7: Levels tab
  6. Click the Muted button next to Microphone and any other line-in that is muted.
  7. Use the slider bar to raise the level for Microphone and each line-in to at least 75.
    Figure 8: Speaker levels
  8. Click OK.

Step 4: Update the audio drivers

You may 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 may 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. Click the plus sign (+), next to Sound, video and game controllers.
  4. Right-click the name of the sound hardware and select Update Driver Software....
    Figure 9: Device Manager: Update Driver Software
  5. Click Search automatically for updated driver software and wait for Windows to update the driver software.
    Figure 10: Update Driver Software: Search automatically for updated driver software
  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 using the instructions in Step 1. If the problem persists, go to the next step.
    Figure 11: Update Driver Software: Success

Step 5: Configuring Windows recording settings

By default, Windows Vista 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.
    Figure 12: Sound: Recording tab (for a Realtek on-board audio hardware configuration)
    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 13: Microphone Properties: Levels tab
  5. Adjust the slider to 75% of its range.
  6. If Mute is on, click the Mute button to unmute the device. The Mute button should show as a blue speaker without any red circle.
  7. If Microphone Boost is available, adjust to +20.0 dB.
  8. Click OK to make the changes.
  9. Test the microphone following the instructions in Step 1 to determine if Windows can 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 may be bad.

Microphone does not work with Internet software (chat software, game software, meeting software)

If Windows can detect an audio signal from the microphone, the problem is not related to the microphone. You can verify that the microphone and audio hardware is working properly by using the first section in this document Resolving most microphone/line-in problems . If the microphone can record in Windows, make sure the software being used is set to use the default microphone. Make sure the software being used is able to access the Internet through the firewall. Because there are many software titles that transfer voice over the Internet and each one has different settings, refer to the help information that came with the software for more help and information.

Microphone fails after a Web camera or a USB microphone is installed

To use the microphone on a Web camera or a USB microphone, it may 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 Vista. 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 the section in this document Step 4: Configuring Windows recording settings . 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

You can use this section to find out if the 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 14: Sound Recorder initial screen
  4. When finished recording, click Stop Recording.
    Figure 15: 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 16: 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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