I’m the first to admit that I’m somewhat multimedia-impaired. I rarely listen to music or watch videos using my computer. However, lately I had to delve into the world of sound because I need to create some demo videos for our new software. The video capture software I’m using is called Camtasia and it’s easy to use. The worst part was actually getting the microphone to work, so I could record the narration.
After a number of false starts, I did an Internet search. As it turns out I’m not alone; microphone problems seem to run rampant. Ideally, you just plug in the microphone and it just works. The reality is that things can go wrong in a number of places. I actually tried out three microphones, most of which I had inherited when a friend cleaned out a box of old hardware. Here’s what I learned the hard way.
1. Plug the microphone into the correct spot. It’s not as easy as you might think. Many computers have more than one plug. My computer has two microphone plugs, one on the front and one on the back. Often the connectors are pink and the plug is pink too, which makes it easier to figure out which plug is the right one. (The icons on the case are often cryptic at best.) The connector goes to your sound card, which may be built into your computer’s motherboard or a separate card.
2. Test the microphone. Choose Start|Programs|Accessories|Entertainment and open the Windows Sound Recorder. Click the red Record button and speak into the microphone. If it’s working, you should see a wave form and be able to play it back.
3. Make sure your volume or the microphone aren’t muted or low. Choose Start|Setting Control Panel|Sounds and Audio. In the Audio tab, click the Volume buttons under Sound Playback and Sound Recording. Another way to access the playback volume is by choosing Start|Programs|Accessories|
4. Adjust settings in your software. After you have the hardware set, you need to tweak the settings in the software you plan to use to record your audio. In my case, that meant adjusting Camtasia settings. If you were using a speech recognition program like Dragon Naturally Speaking, you would check the settings in that program.
When you run into problems, you need to keep testing and tweaking settings until you get it just right. Then go back and write down your settings somewhere so you don’t forget them.