Record from Your Computer’s Microphone

This article was first issued in 1998 and republished subsequently on Mesquire.com 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.

Note:

  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.

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Watching VCD Movies with Windows Media Player

This article was first published on 2002/9/29

 

The latest versions of Windows Media Player (WMP) can detect and play VCD movie discs, but even early versions of Media Player already supported playing VCD movies. If the VCD movie comes with dual lingual channels, playing the disc on early versions of WMP will not give you any control over which audio language channel to playback. This tutorial will show you how to bypass this limitation by using Media Player 6.4 instead.

Part I : Load VCD file to WMP

1. Insert VCD disc into CD drive.

2. Click Start button, followed by Run.

3. On the Run screen, type in the command line: C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\mplayer2.exe

A different WMP will start. This is version 6.4, which can play bi-lingual VCD such as Korean films with additional Chinese dubbed sound channels.

4. On WMP, click File then Open.

5. On Open screen, click [Browse] button.

6. On the navigation screen, go to the CD drive. There is a list of folders on the CD, enter the folder "MPEGAV". The folder will appear empty.

7. Change the File Type to All Files. A file with extension DAT will appear. Note: filename may not be the same from one VCD to the next.

8. Select the DAT file and click the Open button to return to Open screen (or simply double-click the file).

A VCD may contain more than one DAT file. If so, select the one largest in size – that is the file with the film. Other files are usually either copyright warnings or promotional materials. (If size of the files are not displayed, press the Details button right of the pair of button in the upper right part of the screen.

9. Click OK to start playing.

10. Adjust screen size by dragging the corners to the desired size or click the Maximize button in the upper right corner for maximum screen size in a program window.

To view playback in full screen mode (no title bar, no program frames), press ALT + ENTER keys together. Press again to revert to normal screen size.

Part II : Select sound channel on bi-lingual channel VCD

A) Must have VCD loading to WMP (Part 1 completed), but the VCD does not need to be played, but it would help to figure out if the wrong sound channel has been chosen as the change is immediate.

B) Right-click the film/movie part of the screen (black middle section above) and select Properties on the popup Context menu.

C) On the next screen, click to Advanced page.

D) Select "MPEG Audio Decoder" and click the Properties button, or simple double-click "MPEG Audio Decoder".

E) Check the following settings on the next screen:

  • Sound Quality: CD audio

  • Sound Channels: Stereo (you may press the Set As Default button to permanently stored to above settings)

F) Finally, to change soundtrack channels, select either First or Second channel in the section labelled "Channel".

  • Set to either First or Second. The Both settings is to play both channels at once, i.e., a bi-lingual presentation.

  • Press [OK] or [Close] to exit all Properties screens.

  • Press the Play button to resume if playing had stopped.

You should now be able to hear only one language soundtrack. If the language is wrong, repeat from step (B), and select the other channel. (Unfortunately which channel is correct depends on the VCD and selecting the correct channel is done by trial and error, but at least you have a 50:50 chance)