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Old 31st July 2020, 08:49 AM   #1
Butter!
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Microphone Problem

I have to record a speech for school, and my microphone is barely picking up sound. It's cutting in and out, and most of my words are inaudible. I tried running the troubleshoot - nothing. I tried turning up the mic's volume to 100. Barely made a difference.

I skyped last night, and it was working fine then. I've restarted the computer several times.

My device is an HP laptop running Windows 10, internal cam and mic.

Has anyone experienced this?

It's so typical that it happens when I have a speech due.


EDIT: Just did a test, and Skype audio is still working fine. My friend could hear me without any problems. So the issue seems to be restricted to recording in the camera app. WTF
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Old 31st July 2020, 09:16 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
I have to record a speech for school, and my microphone is barely picking up sound. It's cutting in and out, and most of my words are inaudible. I tried running the troubleshoot - nothing. I tried turning up the mic's volume to 100. Barely made a difference.

I skyped last night, and it was working fine then. I've restarted the computer several times.

My device is an HP laptop running Windows 10, internal cam and mic.

Has anyone experienced this?

It's so typical that it happens when I have a speech due.


EDIT: Just did a test, and Skype audio is still working fine. My friend could hear me without any problems. So the issue seems to be restricted to recording in the camera app. WTF
Whatever app you might be using might have a "detect voice" that isn't working well. Lots of game and other web apps that use this kind of detection usually involve lots of clipping and loss like you describe as the mic switches on and off in the pauses between words and sentences.

See if your recording program has settings to make it push to talk or toggle rather than a detection mode. If you can manually keep your mic on, it could solve this kind of problem.
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Old 31st July 2020, 09:36 AM   #3
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Hmmm, I just checked, and the "detect voice" option is greyed out. So I guess that probably can't be it.

The other weird thing is, I recorded a speech for this same class about a week and a half ago, using this computer and the same app, and there were zero problems. So something must have happened in the meantime, but I can't imagine what.

A curse seems likely.
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Old 31st July 2020, 09:44 AM   #4
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First rule of Support -- Is everything plugged in properly?

Is it a separate mic? Plugged perhaps into the headphone jack? It would still work, but not very well. At least, I've had that experience.

Otherwise look at your expanded Sound settings and check the Recording Volume.
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Old 31st July 2020, 10:54 AM   #5
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If you know it's working with another program like Skype, the simplest solution may be to download a different recording software. That doesn't explain why your program stopped working abruptly, but it can be a quick solution for now.
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Old 31st July 2020, 11:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
If you know it's working with another program like Skype, the simplest solution may be to download a different recording software. That doesn't explain why your program stopped working abruptly, but it can be a quick solution for now.
You're probably right. I need to get this speech done, so I'll use something else to get that submitted, and then I'll troubleshoot further.
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Old 31st July 2020, 11:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
You're probably right. I need to get this speech done, so I'll use something else to get that submitted, and then I'll troubleshoot further.
Alternatively, reinstall the program you have been using and see if that resets it.
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Old 31st July 2020, 11:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
Alternatively, reinstall the program you have been using and see if that resets it.
It's the default camera program that came with the computer. Can those be uninstalled without screwing up the system?
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Old 31st July 2020, 11:14 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
It's the default camera program that came with the computer. Can those be uninstalled without screwing up the system?
Maybe, I'm a bit out of my depth here.

If you can find it listed as its own program under the control panel, then I would guess yes. If you go to the control panel - uninstall programs, you may be able to find it. There may be a reinstall or repair option too.

I'm not sure where you could find the install files if you uninstalled it. Maybe you could download it from the manufacturer's website, or maybe you computer came with an install disc that includes it.
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Old 31st July 2020, 11:25 AM   #10
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Not a computer guy, but I'v found over the years that cameras, mics and headphones break with alarming frequency.

The fact that yours is working fine with some apps suggest to me that it's not a hardware problem. But, once again, I have no idea what I'm talking about.
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Old 31st July 2020, 01:04 PM   #11
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Well, I'm embarrassed. I figured out what the problem was.

I have a little piece of card taped over my webcam because I'm paranoid, and when I need to use the camera, I pull the card off and stick it beside the lens until I'm done. (I keep it there so I won't forget to put it back.)

In this particular instance, I'd stuck the card over one of the little microphone dots (there are 2 of them) without realizing it. That's what was going on, and that explains why it worked fine last night.

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Old 31st July 2020, 02:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
Well, I'm embarrassed. I figured out what the problem was.

I have a little piece of card taped over my webcam because I'm paranoid, and when I need to use the camera, I pull the card off and stick it beside the lens until I'm done. (I keep it there so I won't forget to put it back.)

In this particular instance, I'd stuck the card over one of the little microphone dots (there are 2 of them) without realizing it. That's what was going on, and that explains why it worked fine last night.

Haha, I also have the paranoid webcam sticky thing going on, cheers for the info
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Old 31st July 2020, 02:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
Well, I'm embarrassed. I figured out what the problem was.

I have a little piece of card taped over my webcam because I'm paranoid, and when I need to use the camera, I pull the card off and stick it beside the lens until I'm done. (I keep it there so I won't forget to put it back.)

In this particular instance, I'd stuck the card over one of the little microphone dots (there are 2 of them) without realizing it. That's what was going on, and that explains why it worked fine last night.


Sometimes it's the simple things that are hardest to see.

No need for embarrassment. You figured it out.
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Old 31st July 2020, 03:10 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
Well, I'm embarrassed. I figured out what the problem was.

I have a little piece of card taped over my webcam because I'm paranoid, and when I need to use the camera, I pull the card off and stick it beside the lens until I'm done. (I keep it there so I won't forget to put it back.)

In this particular instance, I'd stuck the card over one of the little microphone dots (there are 2 of them) without realizing it. That's what was going on, and that explains why it worked fine last night.

Interesting! I've no idea where the internal microphone openings on either of our laptops are. But there's been a bit of tape over the camera on this one since it was new.

Does your computer have separate mic and earphone jacks, or just a combined one? Because if the latter, I was going to suggest plugging in set of wired earbuds with a mic.
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Old 1st August 2020, 02:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Interesting! I've no idea where the internal microphone openings on either of our laptops are. But there's been a bit of tape over the camera on this one since it was new.

Does your computer have separate mic and earphone jacks, or just a combined one? Because if the latter, I was going to suggest plugging in set of wired earbuds with a mic.

Even if it does, adapters are inexpensive.

I bought this one recently for an old laptop I've been rehabilitating.

$6.99 (at Amazon, free shipping over $25). It's working great.

Another alternative perhaps, is using an app which let's you use a smartphone as a webcam and mic. DroidCam looks promising, as an example.. $5, but there are also free alternatives out there.

Most newer smartphones have better cameras and mics than the average laptop. Especially the older average laptop.
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Old 2nd August 2020, 04:54 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Interesting! I've no idea where the internal microphone openings on either of our laptops are. But there's been a bit of tape over the camera on this one since it was new.

Does your computer have separate mic and earphone jacks, or just a combined one? Because if the latter, I was going to suggest plugging in set of wired earbuds with a mic.
No need for those. There are headsets/mics/headphones that connect via USB or Bluetooth. It pays off to study reviews in particular for Bluetooth ones. They frequently have connection issues. But i guess one gets the best sound quality with cable bound USB sets.
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Old 2nd August 2020, 07:01 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Even if it does, adapters are inexpensive.

I bought this one recently for an old laptop I've been rehabilitating.

$6.99 (at Amazon, free shipping over $25). It's working great.

Another alternative perhaps, is using an app which let's you use a smartphone as a webcam and mic. DroidCam looks promising, as an example.. $5, but there are also free alternatives out there.

Most newer smartphones have better cameras and mics than the average laptop. Especially the older average laptop.
YES! My laptop camera is such poor quality, it's hilarious sometimes. I never take photos of myself, and the main reason is because of that camera. Grainy, oddly positioned, just booooo all around.

Smartphone cameras seem to mostly be excellent quality by contrast, but I don't use a smartphone. I've thought about getting one without the service connected and just using it as a camera. Not sure if it would be worth it. Going out isn't really a thing anymore, and where else would I end up taking many pictures?


EDIT: Obviously, this wouldn't help me with Skype and things like that. I'm just thinking of still photos or saved videos.
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Old 2nd August 2020, 12:42 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
EDIT: Obviously, this wouldn't help me with Skype and things like that. I'm just thinking of still photos or saved videos.
It would. You can have a smartphone connected to the wifi and no SIM card and, as long as you have the appropriate account(s), you can hit up the app store and download Skype and things for the phone.
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Old 2nd August 2020, 02:46 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Mongrel View Post
It would. You can have a smartphone connected to the wifi and no SIM card and, as long as you have the appropriate account(s), you can hit up the app store and download Skype and things for the phone.
Ohhhhh, I never even thought of that! Good point.
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Old 3rd August 2020, 03:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Butter! View Post
Ohhhhh, I never even thought of that! Good point.

Just turn on "Airplane Mode" which turns off all the phone's transmit/receive radios (cell, wifi, bluetooth) and then turn the wifi and bluetooth back on separately. This keeps the phone from using up power trying to find a cell signal.

I have an old LG G Stylo I use for a bedside clock radio. Also two Note 2's which I found a custom ROM for that disables all the cell function anyway. They make great little tablets. Any of them can be drafted as webcams. There are apps out there designed to let you use your old smartphones as webcams for your home security system.

And with some apps (depending on your phone provider (I know T-Mobile has this, with T-Mobile DIGITS.), you can still use the phones as phones with your current phone number as long as there is accessible wifi. No extra SIM needed. Google Phone will do much the same thing, but with a new phone number, (Unless you port one you already have over to them.)

Cellphones started out simple and gradually gained features which made them somewhat more like computers (See: "feature phones") But that isn't the right paradigm any more. A smartphone is a computer that can make phone calls. Even if you don't make phone calls with it you can still do a lot of the other computer stuff, and if you can get on-line with wifi you can do pretty much all of it.

With most of the newer ones you can even use a USB to ethernet adapter and hardwire right into your router. No wifi needed. (Although that seems a bit much, to me. But I can see limited edge situations where it might be helpful. You'd have one screaming fast data connection to your smartphone, if nothing else.)

Even if you don't get a smartphone from a provider along with an account and all that you can still use any old smartphone to do all this stuff, and more. Find one secondhand, or maybe a friend has one they aren't using anymore.
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Old 4th August 2020, 04:28 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Just turn on "Airplane Mode" which turns off all the phone's transmit/receive radios (cell, wifi, bluetooth) and then turn the wifi and bluetooth back on separately. This keeps the phone from using up power trying to find a cell signal.

I have an old LG G Stylo I use for a bedside clock radio. Also two Note 2's which I found a custom ROM for that disables all the cell function anyway. They make great little tablets. Any of them can be drafted as webcams. There are apps out there designed to let you use your old smartphones as webcams for your home security system.

And with some apps (depending on your phone provider (I know T-Mobile has this, with T-Mobile DIGITS.), you can still use the phones as phones with your current phone number as long as there is accessible wifi. No extra SIM needed. Google Phone will do much the same thing, but with a new phone number, (Unless you port one you already have over to them.)

Cellphones started out simple and gradually gained features which made them somewhat more like computers (See: "feature phones") But that isn't the right paradigm any more. A smartphone is a computer that can make phone calls. Even if you don't make phone calls with it you can still do a lot of the other computer stuff, and if you can get on-line with wifi you can do pretty much all of it.

With most of the newer ones you can even use a USB to ethernet adapter and hardwire right into your router. No wifi needed. (Although that seems a bit much, to me. But I can see limited edge situations where it might be helpful. You'd have one screaming fast data connection to your smartphone, if nothing else.)

Even if you don't get a smartphone from a provider along with an account and all that you can still use any old smartphone to do all this stuff, and more. Find one secondhand, or maybe a friend has one they aren't using anymore.
As a redundancy, removing (or never installing) a SIM card would prevent any kind of cellular connection. I think you can still dial 911 without a SIM card, but no cell carrier is going to want to carry any data from your phone without a paying account.
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Old 4th August 2020, 05:15 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
As a redundancy, removing (or never installing) a SIM card would prevent any kind of cellular connection. I think you can still dial 911 without a SIM card, but no cell carrier is going to want to carry any data from your phone without a paying account.
Good point. I don't know if that would prevent the phone from trying to connect, but airplane mode ensures that it doesn't.

One of the reasons I despise Sprint (And to some degree myself, for not educating myself sufficiently before I made my choice of provider. In my defense it was my very first smartphone, and I had only just begun to learn about them.) was because I discovered, when I wanted to change services away from them, that they had customized their model of Note 2 by having the SIM hardwired into the phone, so that it couldn't be removed without unsoldering it from the phone.

In the process of learning about this I also discovered the fine people at XDA, and learned about the wonderful world of custom ROMs, and that someone, while writing one to upgrade the no longer supported Note 2, also made available a module which specifically made it wifi only. Bless them. The device was no longer useful as a cellphone, but as I mentioned above it serves well as a dandy little tablet.
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Old 4th August 2020, 07:17 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Does your computer have separate mic and earphone jacks, or just a combined one? Because if the latter, I was going to suggest plugging in set of wired earbuds with a mic.

This, having a plug in mic that is more directional and you can position as needed can make a big improvement in sound quality. Particularly for presentations. When we use to make instructional videos we would always use a lapel mic on the person speaking. Even though the video camera mic was a better quality device. The improvement of the clarity, being closer to the speaker and not taking in as much ambient noise, made all the difference.

I'll never get these web channel pundits that record videos in their cars with the regular phone mic. Please, the sound dynamics of cars are set up for sound quality at the passengers' heads not on the dashboard or at the steering wheel. Also the more omnidirectional nature of the phone mic means it picks up more reflections from more directions than if your ear was in the same place as the mic. Hence, it sounds like you're recording in a port-o -potty, which considering some of the content seems appropriate for some of the videos.
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Old 4th August 2020, 08:26 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
As a redundancy, removing (or never installing) a SIM card would prevent any kind of cellular connection. I think you can still dial 911 without a SIM card, but no cell carrier is going to want to carry any data from your phone without a paying account.
I use wi-fi on a couple older phones for streaming internet radio. I suppose I could make internet phone calls if I set it up that way.
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Old 4th August 2020, 10:07 AM   #25
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My current company drives me nuts as I’m the only one who uses a headset on calls. My last workplace it would have been tar and feather time. I have a plantronics headset as my usual work one and a comfy Bluetooth headset for when I’m cooking or something during a call.
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:34 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
I use wi-fi on a couple older phones for streaming internet radio. I suppose I could make internet phone calls if I set it up that way.

You certainly can.

Google Voice is one of the best examples. You can port an existing number over to Voice, or get a new phone number. (You can even choose a particular area code if numbers in it are available. I got one about twenty miles from where I grew up in West Virginia.) Calls within the U.S. are completely free. International calls are (literally) pennies per minute. I set it up because calls to my SIL in Perth weren't outrageously expensive. One cent per minute. To her landline anyhow. Calls to her cell are four cents per minute.

You can use it with your smartphones, your computer, your tablet, etc. As long as there is an internet connection. You can choose which device (or devices) the number will ring to, if you want it to ring to a device at all. Text messages are also free. As is voicemail, and you can have the voicemail converted to text and emailed to you.

Here's a good overview at tom's guide.

There are lots of other alternatives. Mostly not as feature rich or as inexpensive, though. If you use Skype without video it is essentially an internet phone call, for example.

T-Mobile offers an app called DIGITS, which lets you use your T-mobile numbers (all of them, if you have more than one) from any internet connected device, along with texting, phone logs, and access to your contacts list.

I expect other cell service providers may have similar services.

Plenty of stuff out there. Hard to beat Google Voice, though.
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Old 4th August 2020, 06:17 PM   #27
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Google Voice is (last I checked), U.S. only though. There is a less flexible alternative in Canada, Fongo, but unless you pay you don't get texting support and have to use their app. If you do pay, you can set up any SIP device, i.e not just a smartphone.
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Old 5th August 2020, 01:03 AM   #28
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I've been using Sipgate for a few years now. All calls within the UK are free for me.


It's a German company so I'm fairly sure it's a pan-European (or at least pan-EU) service.
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Old 5th August 2020, 05:09 AM   #29
quadraginta
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Originally Posted by grmcdorman View Post
Google Voice is (last I checked), U.S. only though. There is a less flexible alternative in Canada, Fongo, but unless you pay you don't get texting support and have to use their app. If you do pay, you can set up any SIP device, i.e not just a smartphone.

Yeah, but I was thinking alfaniner was U.S. based. Maybe I was mistaken about that.
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Old 5th August 2020, 05:21 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Yeah, but I was thinking alfaniner was U.S. based. Maybe I was mistaken about that.
No, it's correct. Funny, for the longest time I had my avatar location as "Sorth Dakonsin" (which may not make any sense to most people anyway). I don't remember taking that off.
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Old 5th August 2020, 01:10 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
No, it's correct. Funny, for the longest time I had my avatar location as "Sorth Dakonsin" (which may not make any sense to most people anyway). I don't remember taking that off.
We took care of that for you. It's really for the best.
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