How to Troubleshoot Microphone Issues


Most sound cards provide the ability to receive sound input from a microphone through the sound card microphone port. This may be useful for recording voice or sounds to your computer. This article describes how to troubleshoot microphone issues in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 98 Second Edition.

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More Information

Note that the microphone is not listed individually in Device Manager because it works through your sound card. Perform the steps in the following sections in order, and then test to determine if your issue is resolved after each section.

NOTE: The microphone should be selected as the recording device in the Volume Control tool(sndvol32.exe).

To verify this, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type sndvol32.exe, and then click OK.
  3. Click Properties on the Options menu.
  4. In the Adjust volume for box, click Recording.
  5. Click OK.
  6. In the Microphone box, verify that the Select check box is selected.
All the properties listed on the Playback section of the Volume control are independet of the recording settings. So you could record through the microphone by selecting it on the recording section, and mute it on the playback section. Then, you could record sound, but wouldn't hear it through the speakers while you are recording.

Check Your Hardware

If your microphone has never worked, or if it has stopped working, first check the physical connection of the microphone. Verify that it is firmly plugged into the microphone port instead of the headphone or speaker port. If you are not sure which port is correct, you can check the sound card to see if it is marked (sometimes with a picture of a microphone), you can use a process of elimination, check the documentation that came with your hardware, or contact the hardware manufacturer.

Sound Recorder

  1. Run the Sound Recorder tool:

    Windows 95

    Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to Multimedia, and then click Sound Recorder.

    Windows 98

    Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to Entertainment, and then click Sound Recorder.
  2. After Sound Recorder is running, click Record (the circle on the right side), and then speak into the microphone. If it is plugged into the correct jack, the line on the display should move up and down. If it does not move, sound is not making it through your microphone. If the line does move, press Stop, press Rewind, and then press Play to listen to your recording. If this works, but it does not work in your program, view the "Using the Microphone in Programs" section in this article.
NOTE: If Sound Recorder is not installed:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Add/Remove Programs.
  2. Click the Windows Setup tab, click Multimedia, and then click Details.
  3. Click to select the Sound Recorder check box, click OK, and then click OK.
  4. After Sound Recorder is running, follow the steps above to test.

Still Cannot Record

If you cannot record a .wav file after you follow the steps in the previous section, there may be a problem with your microphone property settings. To check these settings:

  1. Double-click the Speaker icon on the taskbar, and then verify that the Microphone slider is at the top and that the Mute check box is not selected. If Mute is selected, click to clear the check box.
  2. Select Properties from the Options Menu. Select Recording and click OK. Verify that the Selected check box under Microphone is checked, and that the Microphone slider is at the top.
  3. Try recording a .wav file again.

Speaker Is Not on the Taskbar

If the speaker is not on your taskbar:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Multimedia.
  2. Click to select the Show volume control on the taskbar check box, and then click OK.
If you still cannot record a .wav file, there is probably a hardware-related cause, and you should try the preceding steps with another microphone or contact your hardware manufacturer.

Information About Using the Microphone in Programs

If you can record a .wav in Sound Recorder, but you are still having problems in a specific program, there may be settings that must be enabled in the program. Check the documentation that came with the program for specific details.

Common Problems with Microphones

  • Volume is turned off or is very low

    If your volume is turned off or is set very low, you may not be able to be heard when you use your microphone. Verify that you can hear .wav files by using the Sound Recorder tool.
    • On the File menu, click Open.
    • Locate and click a .wav file, and then click Open.
    • Click Play.
  • Speakers not on or volume is low

    If you are using amplified speakers, verify that they are properly connected to the sound card, and that they are turned on and the volume control is turned up.
  • Cannot speak simultaneously with another person

    This can happen if full-duplex is not being used by both participants. With full-duplex audio, you and the other person can speak (and hear) simultaneously. With half-duplex audio, you and the other person must take turns when you speak. Both participants must have sound cards that support full-duplex capabilities for both of you to speak simultaneously. Check the properties of each sound card and ensure that full-duplex is enabled.
  • Using audio through a proxy server

    If you are having problems using your microphone in a network environment, the audio ports may be closed on the proxy server, contact your network administrator or ISP.

Article ID: 266677 - Last Review: Sep 22, 2009 - Revision: 1