How to check audio and microphone for the web

As communication methods change the world over and we become more used to using our Internet connections to watch video, listen to podcasts and even chat, I thought a short explanation of how to check your settings on your computer or laptop might be in order:

On Windows XP:

  • Open the Start menu, then click Settings.
  • Open the Control Panel, then Sounds and Audio devices.
  • Under Device Volume, click the Volume tab.
  • Click Advanced.

A small volume control panel will pop up. It looks like a mixer with fields for CD, WAV, etc:

  • Select the Options menu, and click Properties.
  • Under Adjust Volume For, select the Recording button.
  • Make sure both Microphone and Auxiliary are checked.
  • Select OK. The mixer window should now show different fields. These are the recording fields.
  • You should find Microphone and Line-in as choices. This is where you have to test how your microphone is plugged in. You should also check to see that your input source (such as Microphone) is not muted.

To test audio input from your headset microphone:

  • Open the Start menu.
  • Go to Programs, then Accessories.
  • Open Entertainment, then Sound Recorder.
  • Click the Record button and ensure that audio is being captured. If audio is being captured, the waveform in the middle of the Sound Recorder will change simultaneously with your speaking. You can even play back the audio you recorded to make sure it sounds OK.
  • Save the file you have just created to your desktop and replay it, if you microphone is working correctly then you should be able to hear your own voice through your headset.

On the Mac OS:

  • Open System Preferences.
  • Choose Sound, then Input, and make sure the appropriate input device is selected.
  • Beneath the input selection area is a live meter of microphone input. You should then speak in to your microphone. If there is simultaneous activity in the meter in the Control Panel, then your computer is receiving input from the microphone. They may need to adjust the input volume slider to the right (louder) to have their input levels go up and be more clearly visible.
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