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Chapter 4. Personalizing Your Work Envir... > Configuring Sound and Audio Devices

Configuring Sound and Audio Devices

Most computers have sound devices such as sound cards, microphones, and speakers, either built-in or external. Use Control Panel’s Sounds and Audio Devices utility to configure the sounds and sound devices used in Windows.

Tips

  • For general information about installing and configuring peripherals, see Chapter 8.

  • To adjust sounds for hearing impairments, see “Accommodating Disabled Users” later in this chapter.


To control sound volume:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices > Volume tab (Figure 4.40).

Figure 4.40. The slider in the Device Volume section is a master volume control for audio hardware.


2.
Move the slider left to lower the sound level or right to increase it.

or

Check the Mute box to turn off sound.

3.
Check the Place Volume Icon in the Taskbar box to show a notification-area icon that you can click to change volume quickly.

4.
Click OK (or Apply).

To control sound volume for individual devices:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices > Volume tab (refer to Figure 4.40).

2.
In the Device Volume section, click Advanced to display the Volume Control dialog box (Figure 4.41).

Figure 4.41. The Volume Control dialog box lets you adjust volume and balance for playback and recording devices individually.


3.
Choose Options > Properties and check boxes to choose controls to show or hide audio devices; then click OK.

4.
Drag the Balance and Volume sliders (or click Mute) to adjust each device individually.

5.
Choose Options > Exit, or click the window’s Close button.

6.
In the Sounds and Audio Devices Properties dialog box, click OK (or Apply).

Tips

  • In the Volume Control dialog box, choose Options > Advanced Controls; then click one of the Advanced buttons to control bass, treble, and other settings.

  • To adjust recording volume levels, choose Options > Properties; then select Recording in the Adjust Volume For section. The Volume Control dialog box changes to the Recording Control dialog box.


Controlling Audio Hardware

When you choose Sounds and Audio Devices > Volume tab, the Device Volume Advanced controls are really a whole subordinate control panel for your audio hardware. In a typical installation, you may see these controls:

  • CD Player controls the volume of audio CDs (if your CD drive is connected to the sound card directly with a three-conductor cable).

  • Line-In controls the volume of the sound card’s Line-in or Aux input (usually used to record from a stereo or other external playback device).

  • Mic controls the sound card’s microphone input volume (usually used with a microphone or dictation headset).

  • PC Speaker controls the volume of your PC’s built-in speaker, which is connected to the main board, not the sound card.

  • SW Synth controls the volume of music produced by the sound card’s MIDI synthesizer or wavetable.

  • Volume Control is the master control—the same one shown in Figure 4.40.

  • Wave sounds are generated by Windows, games, MP3s, Windows Media Player, and many other programs.

Depending on your computer’s audio hardware, you may see all or some of these items, or some that aren’t listed here. If you don’t want to display all the available controls, turn them off or on individually (choose Options > Properties).


Sound output

Your computer creates sound with several devices, including its own internal speaker, attached external speakers, headphones, and (less often) dedicated speech or synthesizer cards. These, too, are controlled by the Sounds and Audio Devices applet.

To configure speakers and headphones:
1.
In Control Panel, choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices > Volume tab (refer to Figure 4.40).

2.
In the Speaker Settings section, click Speaker Volume to adjust the volume of each speaker separately; then click OK.

3.
In the Speaker Settings section, click Advanced to select the speaker or headphone setup that you have on your computer (Figure 4.42); then click OK.

Figure 4.42. The Advanced Audio Properties dialog box lets you tell Windows about your speaker setup and orientation, stereo separation, and much more.


4.
In the Sounds and Audio Devices Properties dialog box, click OK (or Apply).

The Sounds tab lets you customize system sound effects, which are audio clips (beeps, chords, or music snippets) associated with system events such as emptying the trash or error messages.

To configure system sound effects:
1.
In Control Panel, choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices > Sounds tab (Figure 4.43).

Figure 4.43. You can choose (or mute) each sound individually or use a sound scheme to apply a group of sounds.


2.
To choose a predefined group of sound effects, choose a scheme from the Sound Scheme drop-down list.

3.
To change a sound for a particular event, select the event in the Program Events list; then select the sound in the Sounds list.

or

Select the event and click Browse to select another sound file (in .wav audio format) on your system.

or

Select (None) in the Sounds list to remove a sound.

4.
To preview a sound for a particular event, select the event in the Program Events list; then click the Play button (the button with the right-pointing triangle).

5.
To save a changed sound scheme, click Save As; type a name; then click OK.

6.
To delete a custom sound scheme, select the scheme; then click Delete.

You can delete only schemes that you created or installed, not the ones Windows provides.

7.
Click OK (or Apply).

Tip

  • Place .wav files in the \Windows\Media folder to have them appear in the Sounds list.

If your system has multiple input or output audio devices, the Audio and Voice tabs let you pick which device to use for sound playback, sound recording, MIDI or voice playback, and voice recording.


To configure audio and voice settings:
1.
In Control Panel, choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices.

2.
On the Audio tab (Figure 4.44), select the default devices for audio playback and recording.

Figure 4.44. MIDI is the sound source normally used by games; it also plays music nicely without grabbing lots of disk space.


3.
If your audio programs require the sound card selected in Default Device, check the Use Only Default Devices box; if your audio programs can use any sound card on your computer, clear the box.

4.
On the Voice tab (Figure 4.45), select the default devices for voice playback and recording.

Figure 4.45. Click Test Hardware to start the Sound Hardware Test Wizard, which helps you make sure that your PC can play sounds and capture your voice.


5.
Click OK (or Apply).

Tip

  • Some specialized multimedia devices, such as video capture cards, may appear in the Default Device lists on the Audio or Sounds tabs. If you have such a device and you’re getting no sound, check these two tabs.


To access an audio or video device’s driver:
1.
In Control Panel, choose Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices > Hardware tab (Figure 4.46).

Figure 4.46. Audio and video devices are identified by make and model—crucial information when you’re dealing with the manufacturer’s Web support.


2.
Choose an item from the Devices drop-down list; then click Properties > Driver tab (Figure 4.47).

Figure 4.47. The Driver tab lets you inspect, update, roll back, or uninstall a device’s driver.


Tips

  • Each multimedia device on the Hardware tab has the same Properties dialog box that it does in Device Manager.

  • Unfortunately, getting audio output hardware to work in Windows—especially if you have a lot of it—can be complex and counterintuitive. Click the Troubleshoot button to open Help and Support Center’s step-by-step troubleshooting tutorial. If you know who made the sound component that’s giving you trouble, try the manufacturer’s Web site for tips, updated drivers, or patches.


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