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Volume Control

The Volume Control accessory is basically a no-brainer. It provides a pop-up volume control sporting balance, mute, and other controls for your audio subsystem. Whether you're playing radio stations from the Web, CDs from your CD drive, listening to TV if you have a TV tuner card, doing online conferencing with NetMeeting, or recording sound files, you need access to these controls from time to time. Of course, if you don't have a working sound card installed, this accessory isn't available, or at least it won't do anything. A little known fact for many people is that this accessory has two sets of controls—one for recording and one for playback.

To open the volume controls, choose Start, Programs, Accessories, Entertainment, Volume Control. A shortcut is to double-click the little speaker icon in the system tray on the Windows XP taskbar.

Your sound system's capabilities and possible changes that past users have made to the application's settings determine the format of the volume controls you see. On one of my computers the controls look like what you see in Figure 5.8.

Figure 5.8. The basic volume controls for setting playback volume. Another set is available for record levels.

You can alter any volume control's setting by dragging the volume up or down. Change the balance between right and left channels by dragging the Balance sliders left or right. Mute any source input by checking the Mute box in its column.

Controls for some input sources are probably not showing. Check out the Options, Properties command. It offers options for turning on various volume controls and possibly special features. Figure 5.9 shows an example. Because audio controls operate differently for different sound cards, check out any Help files that might be available from your audio controls.

Figure 5.9. The Properties dialog box for typical volume controls.



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