If you've launched a Voip call from your computer only to discover the audio isn't working right, don't worry. You won't be relegated to IM-only communication; it's pretty easy to fix most sound problems on your Windows computer.
It can be as simple as an unplugged wire or an accidentally checked mute box in your audio preferences. Here's a basic troubleshooting guide to some of the most common problems you'll run into.
I can't hear anything at all
Inspect your headset or speaker wires. They should be firmly plugged into the proper hole. There may be a speaker/headset icon next to the right one and the color of the proper port often matches the plug's color. If you're not sure where they plug in, just follow the wire from the device to your computer.
If a loose wire isn't your problem, the next step is to check your volume controls. Click on the Speaker icon in your taskbar or, open the volume control panel from your Start Menu. For Windows XP, go to Start -> Accessories -> Entertainment -> Volume Control.
Go to the Options menu, and choose Properties. Ensure that the Playback option is selected. Then, under "Show the following volume controls," check every box. Click Ok and you'll return to the Volume Control window. Here, you can adjust the volume level and balance for your computer's sound system. Take a moment to make sure that no Mute boxes are checked and that your volume sliders are up at least 75-80%.
My audio sounds echo-y
Headsets generally produce less of an echo effect than integrated or standalone microphone setups. Sometimes, even with echo-canceling features, it sounds like you're talking in a tunnel. In your Volume Control window, try moving the 3D Depth slider all the way down.
Everything sounds scratchy or full of static
Make sure the plugs on your headset or speaker wires are clean, in good condition, and firmly plugged into the correct location. Look for crimps or frayed sections of wire.
My voice isn't coming through at all
Double check that your microphone is plugged all the way into the correct hole. Usually, you'll see a microphone icon next to the right port and the hole will match the color of your microphone plug.
If your voice still isn't coming through, go to your Volume Control panel and make sure the Mute button in the Mic box isn't checked. You might also want to click on the Advanced button below the Mute box and scroll down to Other Controls and check the 20dB boost box, although this may make your voice sound uncomfortably loud in some internet chat programs. Click Close to return to the Volume Control panel.
Next, Go to Options, select Properties, and then Recording (under "Adjust volume for"). Click Ok and the Recording Control panel will pop up. If the Mute all box is selected, uncheck it. Push all the volume sliders at least 75% of the way up and check the Select box under Mic.
My voice comes through but it's hard to hear
Arrange the microphone so it's close you your mouth and that it isn't rotated away from you. If that doesn't help, follow the instructions above for "My voice isn't coming through at all."
I don't know how to test my microphone
Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Entertainment and click on the Windows Sound Recorder. Press the red Record button and talk into the microphone. When you're finished, press Stop and then play back your recorded audio.
If you're still having problems, use your Windows troubleshooter or contact the manufacturer of your device for technical support.