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Resolving microphone problems (Windows 8)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq computers with Windows 8.
This document provides solutions to a variety of problems that can occur when using microphones.
NOTE:If you are not using the latest version of Windows 8, some graphics and information in this document may vary. You can get the latest version from the Microsoft Store.

Before you begin

While troubleshooting the microphone, you will probably have to disconnect it from the computer. Some USB microphones need to be disconnected according to manufacturer instructions.
CAUTION:Always follow manufacturer instructions for disconnecting USB devices from the computer. Some USB devices must be turned off and/or ejected before they are disconnected from the computer. Some other USB devices support the Windows Safely Remove Hardware feature.

Checking the microphone

First, rule out that the microphone issue is not one of the following basic issues:
  1. Software: If the microphone came with software, make sure it is installed properly and is compatible with Windows 8.
  2. Power: If the microphone operates on battery power, make sure the batteries are correctly seated and are functional. If the microphone operates on external power, make sure that all the power connections are secure and the power cord is connected to a power source.
  3. Volume: If the microphone has a volume control, make sure it is turned up half way.
  4. Connection: Connect and disconnect the microphone from the computer port.
    • USB connector: If your microphone uses a USB connector, disconnect and then reconnect the USB connector to the computer. If the computer still does not recognize the microphone, try plugging the USB connector into a different port on the computer.
    • Jack connector: If your microphone uses a jack connector, disconnect and then reconnect the jack connector to the computer.
      Make sure that the jack connector is connected to the correct port:
      Digital microphone jack ports have a microphone shaped icon at the port.Analog microphone jack ports may be pink and have the word mic next to the port.


      NOTE:Some computers also have a headset (combination headphone and microphone) port. The headset port has a headset icon next to the port. This port can be used for headsets, microphones, and headphones.
    • If the computer recognizes the microphone, and it now functions correctly, the problem is resolved.
    • If the computer recognizes the microphone, but, it still does not function correctly, continue to step 5 of this section.
    • If the computer still does not recognize the microphone, continue to step 5 of this section.
  5. Connect the microphone to an alternative device (such as, another computer) and try to use it.
    • If the microphone functions correctly when connected to the alternative device, then the problem may be a driver or computer recognition issue that is causing the problem. Continue to the next step to check for an update to the audio driver.
    • If the microphone does not function correctly when connected to the alternative device, then the microphone might need to be replaced.

Updating the audio driver

Updating the audio driver can resolve issues of your microphone not functioning with your computer. Use the following steps to check for and install audio driver updates:
  1. Connect to the Internet.
  2. From the Start screen, type device manager to open the Search charm, and then select Device Manager from the search results.
    Figure 1: Device Manager search results
    Device Manager search results
  3. Double-click Sound, video and game controllers.
  4. Right-click the name of the sound hardware and select Update Driver Software.
    Figure 2: Update Driver Software option in Device Manager
    Update Driver Software option in Device Manager
  5. Click Search automatically for updated driver software and wait for Windows to update the driver software.
    Figure 3: Updated Driver Software: Search automatically for updated driver software
    Updated Driver Software: Search automatically for updated driver software
  6. Windows checks to see if updated driver software is available.
    If an update is available, let Windows install the update.
  7. When the update is installed successfully, test the microphone.
    Figure 4: Windows has successfully updated your driver software
    Windows has successfully updated your driver software
  8. If updating the driver did not resolve the issue, continue to the next section.
The troubleshooting tool can fix common problems with audio recording. Follow these steps to use the Troubleshooting tool:
  1. From the Start screen, type troubleshooting to open the Search charm, and then select Troubleshooting from the search results.
    Figure 5: Troubleshooting search results
    Troubleshooting search results
  2. Under Hardware and Sound, click Troubleshoot audio recording and then click Next when the Recording Audio window opens.
    Figure 6: Troubleshoot audio recording
    Troubleshoot audio recording
  3. The Recording Audio window opens. Click Next.
    Figure 7: Recording Audio
    Recording Audio
  4. A new window opens. Select the device you would like to troubleshoot. Then click Next and follow the on-screen instructions.
    Figure 8: Select device to troubleshoot
    Select device to troubleshoot
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 the next section of this article.

Checking the sound settings

There are a number of options in Windows sound settings that need to be configured so that the computer recognizes and works with the microphone. Use the steps below to modify the sound configuration as necessary for your microphone.
Open the sound window
  1. Connect the microphone to the computer.
  2. From the Start screen, type sound to open the Search charm, and then select Sound from the search results.
    Figure 9: Sound search results
    Sound search results
    The Sound window opens.
  3. Click the Recording tab in the Sound window.
    Figure 10: Recording tab in the Sound window
    Recording tab in the Sound window

Step 1: Make sure the microphone is recognized by the computer

  1. Click the Recording tab.
  2. Right-click an empty area of the Sound window.
  3. Click Show Disabled Devices and Show Disconnected Devices.
    Figure 11: Disabled and disconnected devices shown in the Sound window
    Disabled and disconnected devices shown in the Sound window
  4. If the microphone is listed as "Currently unavailable" or "Not plugged in," disconnect it, and then reconnect it from the port. If the microphone is still not detected, refer to the Check the microphone section of this article.
  5. Test the microphone by speaking into it
    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, the device is active and an audio signal is passing through the microphone port. The issue should now be resolved. However, you may still want to make sure the microphone is set as the default microphone using the Step 2: Setting the default microphone section of this article.
    • If the bars remain gray and inactive, the computer is not recognizing a signal. Leave the recording tab open and refer to the Step 2: Setting the default microphone section of this article.
    Figure 12: Sound window with 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: Setting the default microphone

The microphone you want to use may need to be set as the default microphone. Follow these steps to set your microphone as the default microphone:
  1. From the Recording tab of the sound window select the port that you want to use (there could be one or more ports).
  2. 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.
    Figure 13: Enable selection in the Sound window
    Enable selection in the Sound window
  3. Click Set Default to make this device the default audio input device.
    Figure 14: Set Default option in the Sound window
    Set Default option in the Sound window
  4. Click OK to make the changes.

Step 3: Checking volume and mute settings

The volume for the microphone might be muted or turned down, making the computer appear unresponsive to the microphone. Use the following steps to check the speaker volume levels for the microphone.
Unplug all other sound devices before performing this step.
  1. From the Recording tab of the sound window, select an active microphone, and then click Properties.
    Figure 15: Recording tab
    Recording tab
  2. The Microphone Properties window opens.
  3. Click the Levels tab.
    Figure 16: Levels tab
    Levels tab
  4. If the Mute button is on, click on it to turn off mute. The mute button should show as a blue speaker .
  5. Use the slider bar to raise the level for Microphone to at least 75.
  6. If Microphone Boost is available, adjust to +20.0 dB.
  7. Click OK.

Raising the microphone volume level

If the microphone volume is too low, then the microphone levels in Windows may need to be changed. Follow the steps in this section to resolve the issue:
  1. From the Start screen, type sound to open the Search charm, and then select Sound from the search results.
    Figure 17: Sound search results
    Sound search results
    The Sound window opens.
  2. Click the Recording tab.
  3. Select the microphone, and then click Properties.
    Figure 18: Recording tab in the Sound window
    Recording tab in the Sound window
  4. Click the Levels tab.
  5. Change the microphone level to 100 and the Microphone Boost to +10.0dB.
    Figure 19: Levels tab in the Microphone Properties window
    Levels tab in the Microphone Properties window
  6. Click Apply.
  7. Disconnect and reconnect the microphone. Then check the microphone recording level.

Resolving microphone issues when running more than one application at a time

Microphone problems can occur when running more than one application at a time. For example, talking on a headset while playing an online game. To improve microphone function when using more than one application at a time, follow these steps:
  1. From the Start screen, type sound to open the Search charm, and then select Sound from the search results.
    Figure 20: Sound search results
    Sound search results
    The Sound window opens.
  2. Click the Recording tab.
  3. Select the microphone, and then click Properties.
    Figure 21: Recording tab in the Sound window
    Recording tab in the Sound window
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Remove the check from the box next to Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device.
    Figure 22: Advanced properties tab in the Microphone Properties window
    Advanced properties tab in the Microphone Properties window
  6. Click Apply.
  7. Disconnect and reconnect the microphone. Then check the microphone recording level.

Testing a microphone using Windows Sound Recorder

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. From the Start screen, type sound recorder to open the Search charm, and then select Sound Recorder from the search results.
    Figure 23: Sound Recorder search results
    Sound Recorder search results
    The Sound Recorder opens.
  3. Click Start Recording (the red circle) and speak into the microphone.
    Figure 24: Sound Recorder initial screen
    Sound Recorder initial screen
  4. When finished recording, click Stop Recording.
    Figure 25: Sound Recorder while recording
    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 OneDrive Documents folder.
    Figure 26: Sound Recorder Save As screen
    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.

Microphone does not work with Skype or other Internet software

If the microphone is not working with Skype, the wrong microphone may be selected as the default. Open the sound window and then use the steps in the Setting the default microphone section of this article.

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 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 8. If you want to use a different microphone than the USB microphone or Web camera, open the sound window and then follow the steps in the Setting the default microphone section of this article.

USB ports not recognized.

Sometimes USB connected headphone and headset do not work because of a problem with the USB ports on the computer. If you have not been able to resolve the problem after trying the steps in this article, then go to Troubleshooting USB Connections (Windows 8) .

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