Low Microphone volume level


K

kreed

After searching many forum sites it has become apparent that this is a
problem for a huge number of Win7 users

With the volume level and the db boost at max the microphone barely
registers a signal

This problem has been reported constantly since Win7 was in beta

There are lots of suggestions on these forum sites but none of them solve
the problem except in cases were people have the wrong settings

As the hardware (PC plus mic) work well with other OSs it is must be Win7 as
it occurs with different sound cards

Has anyone seen a solution that actually works?

K
 
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G

Gene E. Bloch

After searching many forum sites it has become apparent that this is a
problem for a huge number of Win7 users

With the volume level and the db boost at max the microphone barely
registers a signal

This problem has been reported constantly since Win7 was in beta

There are lots of suggestions on these forum sites but none of them solve
the problem except in cases were people have the wrong settings

As the hardware (PC plus mic) work well with other OSs it is must be Win7 as
it occurs with different sound cards

Has anyone seen a solution that actually works?

K
Are you plugging the microphone into a microphone input or a line-level
input?

Unamplified microphones output a few millivolts, line level expects a
hundred mv or more.
 
J

J. P. Gilliver (John)

In message <[email protected]>, Gene E. Bloch
As the hardware (PC plus mic) work well with other OSs it is must be Win7 as
it occurs with different sound cards
[]
Are you plugging the microphone into a microphone input or a line-level
input?
[]
I suspect he isn't using a different input under 7 to that he is using
with "other OSs" (-:.
 
G

Gene E. Bloch

In message <[email protected]>, Gene E. Bloch
As the hardware (PC plus mic) work well with other OSs it is must be Win7 as
it occurs with different sound cards
[]
Are you plugging the microphone into a microphone input or a line-level
input?
[]
I suspect he isn't using a different input under 7 to that he is using
with "other OSs" (-:.
True.

Still, ISTM that maybe he is: it isn't clear that it's the same
computer. He could mean "(the same) PC" plus mic, or "(a new) PC" plus
mic, as I read (or misread) it. However, the mention of several sound
cards does argue against me.

<SPECULATION>
Also, there is a possibility that the input has more than one function,
mic or line, configurable somewhere. I know I have seen outputs referred
to as "earphone or line out" (e.g., on my netbook), but I'm not sure I
believe it literally.
</SPECULATION>

Anyway, if I'm wrong, the OP will surely ignore me :)

And if he is using a line input, it's certainly no worse than mistakes I
have made...
 
J

J. P. Gilliver (John)

In message <[email protected]>, Gene E. Bloch
True.

Still, ISTM that maybe he is: it isn't clear that it's the same
computer. He could mean "(the same) PC" plus mic, or "(a new) PC" plus
mic, as I read (or misread) it. However, the mention of several sound
cards does argue against me.

<SPECULATION>
Also, there is a possibility that the input has more than one function,
mic or line, configurable somewhere. I know I have seen outputs referred
to as "earphone or line out" (e.g., on my netbook), but I'm not sure I
believe it literally.
</SPECULATION>
Actually, it's more than that, so I withdraw my smart-arsedness: I've
seen connections that can be both input and output (not both at once!),
depending on software. They tend to be self-configuring (i. e. depending
what you plug into them), but this may well only work under the right
OSs (presumably the ones that have drivers).

Earphone or line out I could believe: modern (as in the last couple of
decades or so) earphones tend to be 32 ohms, rather than the 8 ohms of
my youth (i. e. just small speakers, really), so could well work from a
line out socket. (What's more irritating - to me, anyway - is the fact
that netbooks [all I think] and the majority of notebooks don't have a
line _in_, only a microphone in, and that often mono too.)
 
C

charlie

In message<[email protected]>, Gene E. Bloch
As the hardware (PC plus mic) work well with other OSs it is must be Win7 as
it occurs with different sound cards []
Are you plugging the microphone into a microphone input or a line-level
input?
[]
I suspect he isn't using a different input under 7 to that he is using
with "other OSs" (-:.
True.

Still, ISTM that maybe he is: it isn't clear that it's the same
computer. He could mean "(the same) PC" plus mic, or "(a new) PC" plus
mic, as I read (or misread) it. However, the mention of several sound
cards does argue against me.

<SPECULATION>
Also, there is a possibility that the input has more than one function,
mic or line, configurable somewhere. I know I have seen outputs referred
to as "earphone or line out" (e.g., on my netbook), but I'm not sure I
believe it literally.
</SPECULATION>

Anyway, if I'm wrong, the OP will surely ignore me :)

And if he is using a line input, it's certainly no worse than mistakes I
have made...
There is another possibly overlooked variant to the problem.
Seems the old AC 97 standard and the "new" HD standard may have
different connections.
The MBD and case I'm using requires both a BIOS setting and a different
header plug to switch from one to the other. (Same case cable, with two
either or connectors at the MBD end.) I seem to remember that there is a
difference between the standards at the microphone jack that is used for
both. At least that's what RealTeks chip data sheet showed.
 
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K

kreed

<SPECULATION>
Also, there is a possibility that the input has more than one function,
mic or line, configurable somewhere. I know I have seen outputs referred
to as "earphone or line out" (e.g., on my netbook), but I'm not sure I
believe it literally.
</SPECULATION>

Anyway, if I'm wrong, the OP will surely ignore me :)

And if he is using a line input, it's certainly no worse than mistakes I
have made...
There is another possibly overlooked variant to the problem.
Seems the old AC 97 standard and the "new" HD standard may have
different connections.
The MBD and case I'm using requires both a BIOS setting and a different
header plug to switch from one to the other. (Same case cable, with two
either or connectors at the MBD end.) I seem to remember that there is a
difference between the standards at the microphone jack that is used for
both. At least that's what RealTeks chip data sheet showed.


Techie bit:

Main PC
Intel® X58 / ICH10R Chipset with Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor
Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC (7.1 + 2)

So you can have 7.1 sounds and still have 2 channels for communications
All sockets can be configured as input or output and are auto-sensing

The front panel mic socket can be switched in software between High
Definition Audio CODEC and AC97 (makes no difference)

But as I say this is common on other PCs with other sound cards

K
 
G

Gene E. Bloch

Actually, it's more than that, so I withdraw my smart-arsedness: I've
seen connections that can be both input and output (not both at once!),
depending on software. They tend to be self-configuring (i. e. depending
what you plug into them), but this may well only work under the right
OSs (presumably the ones that have drivers).

Earphone or line out I could believe: modern (as in the last couple of
decades or so) earphones tend to be 32 ohms, rather than the 8 ohms of
my youth (i. e. just small speakers, really), so could well work from a
line out socket. (What's more irritating - to me, anyway - is the fact
that netbooks [all I think] and the majority of notebooks don't have a
line _in_, only a microphone in, and that often mono too.)
The other thing is that 32 ohms earphone-out fed into a typical 10 KOhm
line-in would work fine, especially if the earphone amp was of good
quality (I mean low distortion).

I got around the lack of line-in & line-out on a laptop recently by
finding in my scrap bin an old USB sound card[1] which had the inputs
and outputs I needed, and more.

[1] It calls itself that, but it's an outboard device, obviously. The
brand is Creative, but it's back in the scrap bin (really, a pile of
stuff that is currently retired but may be useful someday), & I don't
recall the model number.
 
G

Gene E. Bloch

In message<[email protected]>, Gene E. Bloch
[]
As the hardware (PC plus mic) work well with other OSs it is must be Win7 as
it occurs with different sound cards
[]
Are you plugging the microphone into a microphone input or a line-level
input?
[]
I suspect he isn't using a different input under 7 to that he is using
with "other OSs" (-:.
True.

Still, ISTM that maybe he is: it isn't clear that it's the same
computer. He could mean "(the same) PC" plus mic, or "(a new) PC" plus
mic, as I read (or misread) it. However, the mention of several sound
cards does argue against me.

<SPECULATION>
Also, there is a possibility that the input has more than one function,
mic or line, configurable somewhere. I know I have seen outputs referred
to as "earphone or line out" (e.g., on my netbook), but I'm not sure I
believe it literally.
</SPECULATION>

Anyway, if I'm wrong, the OP will surely ignore me :)

And if he is using a line input, it's certainly no worse than mistakes I
have made...
There is another possibly overlooked variant to the problem.
Seems the old AC 97 standard and the "new" HD standard may have
different connections.
The MBD and case I'm using requires both a BIOS setting and a different
header plug to switch from one to the other. (Same case cable, with two
either or connectors at the MBD end.) I seem to remember that there is a
difference between the standards at the microphone jack that is used for
both. At least that's what RealTeks chip data sheet showed.
Good catch, thanks.
 
P

Paul

kreed said:
There is another possibly overlooked variant to the problem.
Seems the old AC 97 standard and the "new" HD standard may have
different connections.
The MBD and case I'm using requires both a BIOS setting and a different
header plug to switch from one to the other. (Same case cable, with two
either or connectors at the MBD end.) I seem to remember that there is a
difference between the standards at the microphone jack that is used for
both. At least that's what RealTeks chip data sheet showed.


Techie bit:

Main PC
Intel® X58 / ICH10R Chipset with Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor
Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC (7.1 + 2)

So you can have 7.1 sounds and still have 2 channels for communications
All sockets can be configured as input or output and are auto-sensing

The front panel mic socket can be switched in software between High
Definition Audio CODEC and AC97 (makes no difference)

But as I say this is common on other PCs with other sound cards

K
The difference between AC97 mode and HDAudio mode for the front
panel, has to do with jack sensing method. Most commodity computer
cases (used in home builds), come with AC97 wiring, and jack sensing
using HDAudio switch closures isn't used. Instead, impedance sensing is used,
and even in "AC97 mode" the sound chip is perfectly capable of popping
up a wizard to ask you what you just plugged in.

There are actually two AC97 2x5 header patterns. The original one, relies
on looping earphone sound back into the box, to make the rear green LineOut
jack work. On HDAudio chips, with BIOS set to "AC97 mode", there are
enough channels on the HDAudio chip, that the loop back path is no longer
needed, so two pins end up as no-connects on the AC97 2x5 header. And then,
the difference between HDAudio in "HDaudio mode" for front panel, and
HDAudio in "AC97 mode", boils down to the handling of the three sense
pins on the header.

*******

As for sound problems, they go back a ways further than Windows 7.
Between user finger problems, poorly designed custom software control panels,
misapplied jack configurations (INF file), sound has been busted in one way
or another for a long time.

In the Linux world, the main reason for things being busted, is the
abundance of standards and obsolete standards. I have several boxes here
with busted sound, thanks to PulseAudio and changes made to accommodate it.
And the attitude of some of the developers, doesn't help matters. At least
with Windows, the architecture side of things isn't an immediate problem.
(Maybe if you're running a recording studio, but not if all you want
to do is listen to tunes.)

Paul
 
J

J. P. Gilliver (John)

Gene E. Bloch said:
I got around the lack of line-in & line-out on a laptop recently by
finding in my scrap bin an old USB sound card[1] which had the inputs
and outputs I needed, and more.

[1] It calls itself that, but it's an outboard device, obviously. The
brand is Creative, but it's back in the scrap bin (really, a pile of
stuff that is currently retired but may be useful someday), & I don't
recall the model number.
I have such a device - I forget the make/model, but it looks like a
giant volume knob, with sockets around the base - which I bought for
exactly that reason (a laptop didn't have line in). (The laptop in
question - a '98SE lite - couldn't actually manage stereo at 44100
without occasional dropouts, so I used it at half that without
noticeable loss from the material I was capturing.)

But I warn people to be on their guard: a lot of the "USB sound" devices
on sale now give only the (probably mono) mic. in and line/headphone out
function that the laptop probably has already; if you're trying to add a
line in function to such a machine, read the spec.s of the USB devices
you look at carefully. I did encounter a use for such a device: someone
I know (she's actually a blind professional recording artist) has one
(in addition to her quite sophisticated sound card), and now that
Windows 7 itself has the ability to pick different inputs/outputs for
different things, she has her Skype headset (ears/mic) plugged into the
cheap USB thing (looks like a pen drive or wifi dongle with sockets on
the other end), without having to reconfigure her main inputs/speakers
every time she uses Skype.
 
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J

J. P. Gilliver (John)

In message <[email protected]>, charlie
There is another possibly overlooked variant to the problem.
Seems the old AC 97 standard and the "new" HD standard may have
different connections.
The MBD and case I'm using requires both a BIOS setting and a different
header plug to switch from one to the other. (Same case cable, with two
either or connectors at the MBD end.) I seem to remember that there is
a difference between the standards at the microphone jack that is used
for both. At least that's what RealTeks chip data sheet showed.
You remind me of another variant: a sound card which had links which
determined whether what was connected to the output socket was line out
or speaker drive. This was when external speakers didn't always have
built-in amplifiers, and sound cards actually had 1 or 2 watt per
channel [which is more than adequate for most purposes!] amplifiers in
them (the link option gave better quality, i. e. not having gone through
the amplifier, if you selected line out). This was _far_ before Windows
7 though - might even have been ISA rather than PCI.
 
D

Dominique

Paul <[email protected]> écrivait
And the attitude of some of the developers, doesn't help matters. At least
with Windows, the architecture side of things isn't an immediate problem.
(Maybe if you're running a recording studio, but not if all you want
to do is listen to tunes.)

Paul
Recording studios usually use high end sound devices that come with drivers
and applets that completely bypass Windows sound architecture and access
the hardware directly.
 
K

kreed

"Dominique" wrote in message

Paul <[email protected]> écrivait
And the attitude of some of the developers, doesn't help matters. At least
with Windows, the architecture side of things isn't an immediate problem.
(Maybe if you're running a recording studio, but not if all you want
to do is listen to tunes.)

Paul
Recording studios usually use high end sound devices that come with drivers
and applets that completely bypass Windows sound architecture and access
the hardware directly.

***********************************************

I'm using a Cooler Master case and get the same result from the front socket
as I do when plugging directly into the motherboard socket at the rear.

I'm using a Stereo Electret Condenser Microphone
Frequency Response: ....................................... 50 ~ 15,000 Hz
Impedance: ....................................................... 600 Ohm
Sensitivity: ...................................................... -72 dB
Directive: .............................................. Cardioid pattern
Operating voltage: .................................................. 1.5V
Battery: .......................................... One "AA" penlight size

and as I said earlier I have even seen this problem reported on Win7 when
using an external sound device.
Playback is not affected, wma, mp3, DVDs....
 
P

Paul

kreed said:
"Dominique" wrote in message

Paul <[email protected]> écrivait


Recording studios usually use high end sound devices that come with drivers
and applets that completely bypass Windows sound architecture and access
the hardware directly.

***********************************************

I'm using a Cooler Master case and get the same result from the front
socket as I do when plugging directly into the motherboard socket at the
rear.

I'm using a Stereo Electret Condenser Microphone
Frequency Response: ....................................... 50 ~ 15,000 Hz
Impedance: ....................................................... 600 Ohm
Sensitivity: ...................................................... -72 dB
Directive: .............................................. Cardioid pattern
Operating voltage: .................................................. 1.5V
Battery: .......................................... One "AA" penlight size

and as I said earlier I have even seen this problem reported on Win7
when using an external sound device.
Playback is not affected, wma, mp3, DVDs....
We'd normally start with information about your motherboard and sound chip,
and check whether there are known issues. There is, as far as I know, one
HDAudio chip that seems to lack a microphone boost function completely. It
was missing from the chip datasheet, and the apparent gain range was not sufficient
to make up for it. For the rest, they should have enough gain for all but
dynamic microphones or phono cartridges (couple millivolts of signal). Usually
computer sound chips, aren't sensitive enough to give good results at that
low a level.

Since you've tested by other means, and proved the hardware works, that
saves me having to describe a procedure for testing. All that's needed now,
is to review the available info for the sound chip or card.

Something else you might look into, is whether you've added third party
software, such as Skype or Ventrilo or the like. At least some of those
packages, include echo removal, and in the past, the software stays running
(affects the sound subsystem), even when the application itself is no longer
being used. For example, one application software, installs echo reduction
code that prevents the sound chip from being run in 5.1 or 7.1 mode, such
that the sound can only be run in stereo, even when the application that
loaded the software is not running, or hasn't been launched. So as a part
of your review of conditions on the machine, it would also require taking
an inventory of "suspicious" multimedia applications.

For more examples of product names involving sound, check the "See Also" here.
Any time there is "speakerphone" or two way voice communications, there is
a need for echo reduction or feedback removal, and if a sound driver shim is
installed, it can have side effects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventrilo

Paul
 
G

Gene E. Bloch

But I warn people to be on their guard: a lot of the "USB sound" devices
on sale now give only the (probably mono) mic. in and line/headphone out
function that the laptop probably has already; if you're trying to add a
line in function to such a machine, read the spec.s of the USB devices
you look at carefully.
Good point.

Looking at available devices without line in/out is why I looked in my
archived devices bin :)
 
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K

K

"Paul" wrote in message
"Dominique" wrote in message

Paul <[email protected]> écrivait


Recording studios usually use high end sound devices that come with
drivers
and applets that completely bypass Windows sound architecture and access
the hardware directly.

***********************************************

I'm using a Cooler Master case and get the same result from the front
socket as I do when plugging directly into the motherboard socket at the
rear.

I'm using a Stereo Electret Condenser Microphone
Frequency Response: ....................................... 50 ~ 15,000 Hz
Impedance: ....................................................... 600 Ohm
Sensitivity: ...................................................... -72 dB
Directive: .............................................. Cardioid pattern
Operating voltage: .................................................. 1.5V
Battery: .......................................... One "AA" penlight size

and as I said earlier I have even seen this problem reported on Win7 when
using an external sound device.
Playback is not affected, wma, mp3, DVDs....
We'd normally start with information about your motherboard and sound chip,
and check whether there are known issues. There is, as far as I know, one
HDAudio chip that seems to lack a microphone boost function completely. It
was missing from the chip datasheet, and the apparent gain range was not
sufficient
to make up for it. For the rest, they should have enough gain for all but
dynamic microphones or phono cartridges (couple millivolts of signal).
Usually
computer sound chips, aren't sensitive enough to give good results at that
low a level.

Since you've tested by other means, and proved the hardware works, that
saves me having to describe a procedure for testing. All that's needed now,
is to review the available info for the sound chip or card.

Something else you might look into, is whether you've added third party
software, such as Skype or Ventrilo or the like. At least some of those
packages, include echo removal, and in the past, the software stays running
(affects the sound subsystem), even when the application itself is no longer
being used. For example, one application software, installs echo reduction
code that prevents the sound chip from being run in 5.1 or 7.1 mode, such
that the sound can only be run in stereo, even when the application that
loaded the software is not running, or hasn't been launched. So as a part
of your review of conditions on the machine, it would also require taking
an inventory of "suspicious" multimedia applications.

For more examples of product names involving sound, check the "See Also"
here.
Any time there is "speakerphone" or two way voice communications, there is
a need for echo reduction or feedback removal, and if a sound driver shim is
installed, it can have side effects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventrilo

Paul

*********************************************************************************

Recap:
ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard
i7 950 processor
Realtek® ALC889 sound chip
Win 7 Ultimate
Have removed Skype, unplugged headset and webcam (built-in mic)

still have the same problem
 
P

Paul

K said:
Recap:
ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard
i7 950 processor
Realtek® ALC889 sound chip
Win 7 Ultimate
Have removed Skype, unplugged headset and webcam (built-in mic)

still have the same problem
I checked the vip.asus.com forums, and did uncover a couple really weird
sound problems with the RealTek. But nothing matching a "low mic" problem.
I didn't read all the threads, as there are too many. I did do a site search,
using the motherboard name and "microphone", and didn't find anything additional.

One user, seemed to have a completely screwed up mapping between RealTek controls
and the actual audio channels. And no solution for that one.

In terms of the interface for RealTek, you might see something like the second
picture here, for the microphone interface. There are record and playback sliders
for the microphone (one for recording, the other for "playthru" volume), as well
as what would appear to be "boost" buttons at the right hand side of the slider.

http://www.rm.com/Support/TechnicalArticle.asp?cref=TEC949416

*******

You can use two computers, to do audio testing. On one computer, install
a copy of Audacity (available on Sourceforge) for Windows. Create a test
tone in the waveform editor. Scale it as needed, for test purposes. What
I do with mine, is use a male to male 1/8" audio cable, and connect the
speaker output of the computer to a multimeter, and verify I get 1.1V RMS
or so, with a full amplitude test audio sine wave, on the source computer.

Then, if I wanted to test microphone gain, I could scale the waveform (using
the Normalize function if needed), and set the amplitude of the test tone to
0.1 or 0.01 of the original value. Then, run my male to male audio test cable,
from speaker out on one computer, to microphone in on the other.

It's either that, or build an attenuator using a few resistors. But then, I'd have
to buy a male and a female audio connector from Radio Shack, to make up an
attenuator cable.

If you did that with speaker output on one computer, and line_in on the other,
you should get back pretty close to a full amplitude recorded signal. Not all
sound solutions, have exactly the same full scale output (some sound cards have
a slightly higher output than motherboard sound solutions), but they should
all be in the same ballpark.

So you can do some testing that way. The advantage of a test tone, is you can
make simple minded electrical measurements (multimeter, AC volts range), to
calibrate what is going on. It's easier doing that, then judging via a VU
meter while you yell "test..." into a microphone.

Paul
 
K

kreed

"Paul" wrote in message
Recap:
ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard
i7 950 processor
Realtek® ALC889 sound chip
Win 7 Ultimate
Have removed Skype, unplugged headset and webcam (built-in mic)

still have the same problem
I checked the vip.asus.com forums, and did uncover a couple really weird
sound problems with the RealTek. But nothing matching a "low mic" problem.
I didn't read all the threads, as there are too many. I did do a site
search,
using the motherboard name and "microphone", and didn't find anything
additional.

One user, seemed to have a completely screwed up mapping between RealTek
controls
and the actual audio channels. And no solution for that one.

In terms of the interface for RealTek, you might see something like the
second
picture here, for the microphone interface. There are record and playback
sliders
for the microphone (one for recording, the other for "playthru" volume), as
well
as what would appear to be "boost" buttons at the right hand side of the
slider.

http://www.rm.com/Support/TechnicalArticle.asp?cref=TEC949416

*******

You can use two computers, to do audio testing. On one computer, install
a copy of Audacity (available on Sourceforge) for Windows. Create a test
tone in the waveform editor. Scale it as needed, for test purposes. What
I do with mine, is use a male to male 1/8" audio cable, and connect the
speaker output of the computer to a multimeter, and verify I get 1.1V RMS
or so, with a full amplitude test audio sine wave, on the source computer.

Then, if I wanted to test microphone gain, I could scale the waveform (using
the Normalize function if needed), and set the amplitude of the test tone to
0.1 or 0.01 of the original value. Then, run my male to male audio test
cable,
from speaker out on one computer, to microphone in on the other.

It's either that, or build an attenuator using a few resistors. But then,
I'd have
to buy a male and a female audio connector from Radio Shack, to make up an
attenuator cable.

If you did that with speaker output on one computer, and line_in on the
other,
you should get back pretty close to a full amplitude recorded signal. Not
all
sound solutions, have exactly the same full scale output (some sound cards
have
a slightly higher output than motherboard sound solutions), but they should
all be in the same ballpark.

So you can do some testing that way. The advantage of a test tone, is you
can
make simple minded electrical measurements (multimeter, AC volts range), to
calibrate what is going on. It's easier doing that, then judging via a VU
meter while you yell "test..." into a microphone.

Paul

*****************************************************************

Thanks for your efforts, I'll try and set up the test you suggest over the
next few days.

K
 
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K

kreed

Something else weird going on:
Though I'd try to Disable mic in Sound Manager/Properties/General then
Enable it again
When I clicked on Disable the entry vanished completely
Looked everywhere, Device Manager and the likes, no sign, Pink input on rear
has also disappeared (previously showed as unplugged)
K
 

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