Record from Your Computer’s Microphone

This article was first issued in 1998 and republished subsequently on 2003/3/17

This is an introduction to how Windows handles audio inputs and outputs. This is also applicable to later versions of Windows during audio troubleshooting, even though they may have been configured correctly at the onset.

There are really two audio controls in Windows – one for play back and one for record. The two controls are independent of each other.
When you hear audio being picked up and played back through the speakers, that is due to the setting for Microphone volume in Windows audio playback set to ON (MUTE setting not used), i.e, Windows plays back everything that the microphone picks up – very good for karaoke, but not very useful to your recording or chat software since they rely on the Record Control for audio inputs.

Before proceeding, make sure your microphone is plugged into the microphone jack of your sound card and that it is in working order.

To make use of your microphone in Windows, try this setup:

1. Double-click the speaker icon in Windows’ System Tray to open volume control panel (Play Control).

2. Set the Microphone volume control to Mute.


  1. This has the benefit of avoiding potential feedback by eliminating the feedback loop from the speakers back to the microphone.

  2. What the microphone plays back is different from what the software picks up from the microphone because of the 2 different Sound Controls, hence muting the setting in Play Control will not affect the setting in Record Control.

  3. The user will be unable to hear what the microphone hears through the speakers, but as mentioned before this does not affect the microphone’s performance in recording.

3. Click Options -> Properties.

4. Switch to Recording and make sure Microphone is selected.

5. Click OK to exit. Record Control will appear. Select Microphone and adjust its volume as desired.

Note: This assumes the microphone is the recording sound source. If you want to record from other audio sources, then you’ll need to select your recording source accordingly.