How to Fix Your Microphone Problems in Windows 10
A lot of Windows sound issues involve the sound output from your speakers. But what if you’re having problems with sound input; how do you fix the microphone?
Whether you’re using a headset microphone to chat in games or recording with a USB mic, we’ll share some tips to fix a lack of input or unreliable mic issues. These will help whether your mic is cutting out or isn’t recognized in the first place.
Check Windows’ Sound Settings
Before you start troubleshooting, restart your computer. You might have a temporary issue that a simple reboot will fix.
After that, your first stop for microphone troubleshooting should be the sound settings in Windows. Access these by navigating to Settings > System > Sound.
Here, under Input, open the dropdown box under Choose your input device. Select the mic you want to use; other available inputs, like your laptop or webcam’s built-in mic, will also show here.
Once you’ve picked the right mic, speak into it and you should see the Test your microphone bar move up and down. If it doesn’t, click the Troubleshoot button below and Windows will attempt to find and fix problems with your mic.
Click the Device properties link to rename the input to make it easier to find in the future. You can also check the Disable box to keep that mic from showing up, or change the Volume to adjust how loud the mic is.
At the bottom of the Sound page, you’ll find the App volume and device preferences menu. This allows you to choose a different output and input device for your open apps. Have a look here and make sure you don’t have the wrong mic selected for the app you’re using.
Troubleshoot Microphone Hardware
Moving on, you should look at your audio hardware setup, especially if you can’t get any input from your microphone at all or didn’t see it listed in the menu above.
If you use a USB mic, try plugging it into another USB port on your PC. Don’t use a USB hub—plug your mic directly into a slot on your PC. If the mic works in another USB port, the first one is likely dead or has an issue. For analog mics, make sure you have the cable plugged into the pink line-in port on your PC.
For all mics, confirm that all cables are fully inserted and that nothing is loose, including the cable for your headset mic if it’s removable, and any extensions. You should also check for fraying cables, as damaged cords can cause problems.
If your microphone has a physical mute toggle, make sure you haven’t enabled it by mistake. Look for a slider or button on your headset, cord, or front of the mic.
Should you still have no mic input after double-checking the above, try plugging your mic into another computer. If it doesn’t work on the other PC, your microphone hardware may be faulty.
Finally, don’t forget to check for updated drivers for your microphone. Most headsets and microphones work out of the box in Windows, but some may require specific drivers for best performance.
Search Google for your device’s name and look for a Downloads section on the manufacturer’s website to find the driver. Updating your existing sound card drivers is important too.
Confirm That Apps Can Access Your Microphone
Windows 10 has a Privacy menu where you can block apps from accessing sensitive data like your camera and microphone. It’s possible that you’ve blocked an app from accessing your microphone here.
Head to Settings > Privacy to take a look. On the left sidebar, choose Microphone under App permissions. Make sure the slider under Allow apps to access your microphone is enabled, or no apps can use it. Take a look through the list of apps to confirm the one you want to use has access.
This first slider and list is only for Store apps, however. Scroll down further and you’ll reach a section titled Allow desktop apps to access your microphone. Double-check that the slider under this header is turned on.
While you can’t toggle mic access for individual desktop apps, you can see when they last accessed your mic. This can help you figure out if the app is detecting your mic properly.
Review Your List of Recording Devices
If your mic is still not working properly, you should next review your list of available input devices. You can do this by clicking Manage sound devices on the same Settings page as above, but it’s a little easier to do using the Control Panel.
Enter control panel in the Start menu to open it, and change Category in the upper-right to Small icons if necessary. When you see the full list of choices, choose Sound.
Here, switch to the Recording tab, which shows all the microphones connected to your PC. Right-click anywhere and confirm both Show Disabled Devices and Show Disconnected Devices are checked.
Look through the list and make sure that your primary mic isn’t disabled (right-click and choose Enable if so). When you speak into a mic, you’ll also see its bar light up to confirm it’s working.
Mic Levels and Exclusive Mode
Double-click on your mic in the Recording panel and you can edit a few options. If you didn’t change the mic’s name earlier in Settings, you can change it now on the General tab. On the Levels tab, you can adjust the input volume (and boost, on supported mics). Try raising this if it seems too low, or lowering it if your mic clips.
Depending on your mic and computer, you may see additional tabs on this page. These contain enhancements like background noise suppression and similar, which you can try if you want.
Finally, on the Advanced tab, uncheck both boxes under Exclusive Mode. The Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device box means that one app can “lock” your microphone so nothing else can use it. Disabling this can solve a lot of mic problems. You can also adjust the Default Format in the dropdown box to select the input quality.
Once you’re done making changes, head back to the Recording tab. Right-click any inputs you don’t use and choose Disable to reduce clutter in input menus. Finally, right-click your main mic and choose Set as Default Device so apps use it by default.
Record Yourself to Troubleshoot
At this point, if your mic is still cutting out in a specific game or app, you should determine whether it’s an issue with your device or the app. To do this, you’ll need to record a short clip of audio.
Windows 10’s built-in Voice Recorder app is suitable for a quick test. Alternatively, Audacity gives you a lot more options and monitors for a deeper analysis.
Simply open either app and record yourself for a minute—speak the alphabet a few times, count to 50, or similar. Then play it back and see if it cuts out or otherwise sounds unclear at any point.
If it sounds clear in Audacity, continue with troubleshooting. But if the recording cuts out here, double-check your hardware if you haven’t already. Your problem likely lies with one of the above steps.
Disable Xbox Game Bar and DVR
Windows 10’s Game Bar can record clips and screenshots of your game. While this is neat, it’s also known to cause mic issues in some games.
Head to Settings > Gaming > Game bar and disable Record game clips, screenshots, and broadcast using Game bar. Then move to the Captures tab and disable Record in the background while I’m playing a game and Record audio when I record a game.
These features are handy if you use them, but it’s better to disable them otherwise to avoid mic problems. Check out other ways to stream and record gameplay in Windows to replace this.
Adjust Microphone Settings in Your Game or App
By now, you’ve essentially ruled out a hardware issue with your microphone, and are pretty sure the problems are tied to one app. Thus, you should dig around in the settings of your game (or other software) to see if you can tweak the mic options there.
Make sure the game is using your primary microphone. Most video games have an option to reduce your mic input volume. Try dropping this a bit, as your input may be clipping and causing it to cut out. Increase it if others say your input is too quiet.
Finally, if the game has a microphone test option, see how your voice sounds. If it’s clear in the test but cuts out in-game, the cause could be a network issue. Perhaps the game’s voice chat uses a port that your router has blocked.
If your mic issue only occurs in-game, consider using a third-party program like Discord for voice chat instead of relying on the game.
Troubleshoot Mic in Zoom, Skype, or Similar Apps
It’s particularly frustrating when an app like Zoom has an issue with your mic. If you’ve walked through all the above steps, the issue probably lies somewhere in the app’s audio settings.
With Zoom, click the Gear icon on the right side to open its settings, then switch to the Audio tab. Under Microphone, you should see the Input Level move when you speak. Click Test Mic to record yourself briefly and see how it sounds. Use the dropdown box to swap your mic input to another device if needed.
Finally, make sure you aren’t muted in a call. Most chat apps give you an option to mute your microphone at the bottom of the screen, which can lead to you thinking your mic isn’t working if you forget you’re muted.
See our tips for fixing Skype issues for more advice if your problem lies with a video calling app.
How to Fix Echo on Your Mic
It’s annoying to hear everything you say again with a delay. And while mic echo is often a problem on someone else’s end, there are a few ways to reduce echo problems.
First, if at all possible, use a headset on calls. Most echo is caused by your microphone picking up audio from your computer’s speakers, which happens much more easily when using your laptop’s built-in microphone and speakers. Using headphones greatly reduces the chance of your microphone picking up that sound.
Make sure that your microphone sensitivity isn’t set too high, as discussed above. Even with headphones, a sensitive mic may pick up some sound that comes through the headset.
If you hear everything you say in your headphones, even when you’re not in a video call, you probably have a specific Windows setting turned on. Go back to the Recording tab in the Sound panel, double-click your input device, and switch to the Listen tab.
If you have Listen to this device checked, you’ll hear everything from that microphone in the select output device. This can be useful in certain circumstances, but in most cases will just drive you crazy. Uncheck the box and hit OK to stop that.
Your Mic Problems, Solved
Hopefully, one of these tips solved your Windows microphone issues. These problems can sometimes be difficult to nail down, since microphones, games, apps, and settings vary so much in each use case.
Still facing issues? If you (or a friend) have one, try another headset/mic on your system. If it works fine, it’s probably time to upgrade to a new home office headset or buy a new wired gaming headset.
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