"Testing, One-Two-Three" (Checking Your Sound System)
Before you start talking to your computer, you should ensure your sound system is working properly. First, make sure none of your devices are muted or have their volume turned way down in Windows:
Double-click the Volume icon in the Windows taskbar (bottom-right corner of your screen, looks like a speaker). This opens the Volume Control window.
Open the Options menu and click Properties. The Properties dialog box appears.
In the Show the Following Volume Controls list, make sure the check box next to Microphone is checked. If the check box is blank, click it to place a check in the box. (Better yet, check all the boxes except PC Speaker.)
Click OK. This returns you to the Volume Control window, as shown in Figure 3.1.
At the bottom of each volume control is a Mute option. Be sure the Mute check boxes are blank, NOT checked. If a Mute check box has a check mark in it, click the check box to remove the check mark.
Drag the Microphone Volume control slider to the top to maximize the microphone volume.
Click the Close (X) button, in the upper-right corner of the Volume Control window, to close the window.
Figure 3.1 Be sure your microphone isn't muted in Windows.
Let's test your microphone to see whether it's working. Open the Windows Start menu, point to Programs, Accessories, Entertainment, and click Sound Recorder. This starts the Windows audio recorder. Click the Record button (the one with the big red dot on it) and say a few words into your microphone. Then, click the Stop button (the square block next to the Record button) and click the Play (the single pointer) button. If you hear your computer talking back to you in your own voice, your microphone is working properly.
If you don't hear your voice, check the following:
Be sure your microphone and speakers are plugged in to the correct jacks on your sound card. It's easy to get the connections mixed up.
If your sound card has a volume control, make sure it's cranked up.
If your microphone has a power switch, make sure the switch is in the On position. (Some close-talk microphones have a switch and a volume control on the cable.)
If your speakers have a power switch, make sure the switch is in the On position.
If your speakers have a volume control, make sure the volume is turned up.
Troubleshooting Sound in Windows
Windows has several troubleshooters that can lead you through the process of tracking down common hardware problems. Open the Start menu and click Help. In Windows 95 or 98, click the Contents tab, click Troubleshooting, click the option for the Windows Troubleshooters, and click Sound in the list of troubleshooters. In Windows Me, click Troubleshooting, click Audio-Visual Problems, and click Sound Troubleshooter. Follow the instructions that appear in the right pane to track down the problem.