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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.


Controlling Audio Hardware

When you choose Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices > Volume tab, the Device Volume Advanced controls are really a mini control panel for your audio hardware. You may see these controls in a typical installation:

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 motherboard, 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 controls, or others not listed here. If you don’t want to display all the available controls, turn them on or off individually (choose Options > Properties).


Sound volume

Windows lets you control the master volume level for all audio hardware or for each device individually.

To control sound volume

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > 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 Mute to turn off sound.

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

4.
Click OK (or Apply).

✓ Tip

  • To mute all sound quickly, click the volume icon in the taskbar’s notification area (system tray); then check Mute in the panel that pops up.


To control sound volume for individual audio devices

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > 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; 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 audio 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.


Speaker settings

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.
Choose Start > Control Panel > 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.

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

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


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

System sounds

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.
Choose Start > Control Panel > 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 the 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. (\Windows is named \WINNT on some systems.)


Recording and playback

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.
Choose Start > Control Panel > 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 that games use normally; 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 Use Only Default Devices; if your audio programs can use any sound card on your computer, uncheck 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.


Audio device drivers

Getting audio hardware to work in Windows can be a problem (especially if you have a lot of it). If you know who made a sound component that’s giving you trouble, try the manufacturer’s web site for updated drivers, patches, and tips.

To access an audio or video device’s driver

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > 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.
Select an item in the Devices list; then click Properties (Figure 4.47).

Figure 4.47. The Driver tab lets you inspect, update, roll back, or uninstall a device’s driver. See also “Managing Device Drivers” in Chapter 8.


✓ Tips

  • Click the Troubleshoot button (refer to Figure 4.46) to open Help and Support Center’s step-by-step troubleshooting tutorial.

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


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