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vista logoTroubleshooting Microphones in Windows Vista

Many owners of personal computers with the Windows Vista operating system are experiencing problems with traditional wired microphones. We provide some simple tips for maximizing your success with such systems.


Regrettably, Microsoft made some changes to the audio controls which negatively impact the ability of users to record or input sound with a microphone using the internal sound card. On the other hand, USB microphones and USB sound devices continue to work easily in Windows Vista.

The Fixes

1. If you have an external USB sound device such as those made by Andrea, Buddy, or VXI, go ahead and use this. These operate virtually identically in Vista and XP, although the sound device might show up in the Dragon Audio Set-up Wizard with a different name. These USB sound devices tend to provide predictable great performance with most wired microphones.

2. If you must use a wired microphone plugged into your pc, you should do the following:

  • Be sure you have updated drivers for your sound card. Check with your pc manufacturer about this. These drivers are generally available for on-line downloading (be aware that some suggest there are problems with Creative Labs drivers and generic Windows drivers may be preferable).

  • Be sure that you are configured to show your microphone and that it is enabled by following the steps below:

    1. Open control panel
    2. Open the Sound control panel
    3. Go to the Recording tab
    4. Right click anywhere in the blank white area of the window to display the show disabled devices context menu
    5. Click on "Show disabled devices" (See below)
    6. Once your microphone is visible, right click on it and be if not already ticked, click on "Enable" - this should get your microphone working.

      Vista Audio

Confirming Proper Functioning of your Microphone

Once you have completed the above steps you can test your microphone under the Vista operating system using the sound recorder. This involves the following steps (borrowed from Microsoft Help):


Make sure you have an audio input device, such as a microphone, connected to your computer.


Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Sound Recorder.


Click Start Recording.


To stop recording audio, click Stop Recording.


(Optional) If you want to continue recording audio, click Cancel. In the Save As dialog box, click Resume Recording, continue to record sound, and then click Stop Recording.


Click the File name box, type a file name for the recorded sound, and then click Save to save the recorded sound as an audio file.

  • To use Sound Recorder, you must have a sound card and speakers installed on your computer. If you want to record sound, you also need a microphone.
  • By default, the recorded audio is saved as a Windows Media Audio (WMA) file.
    If you are using Windows Vista Home Basic N or Windows Vista Business N, your Sound Recorder files are saved as .wav files rather than .wma files.
  • You can play your recording in a digital media player program that supports playback of WMA files.

Special thanks to Graham Hendry at ITSpeaking for input on these recommendations.





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