Mic jack != Line in jack?

I’ve been ripping my hair out trying to figure out why, even though I select stereo in the preferences window, Audacity is just recording the left channel twice. Then it occurred to me- there’s a picture of a microphone on the jack on the front of my laptop (recording from a mixer). A quick google search told me the differences between a mic and a line in jack, but it also told me that laptops switch automatically. I just got this laptop about two or three weeks ago, so I’m assuming it’s up to date with that kind of technology.

I’d love to select “line in” from the dropdown menu, but the menu is greyed out! I got the laptop, and when to sourceforge.net, downloaded the latest stable version of audacity, and was ready to go, but I cant figure out how to switch it from mic to line in?

To further complicate things, my laptop has one of those useless onboard microphones. Don’t get me wrong, those mics have plenty of practical applications…like… powering your laptop piezoelectrically. I think I have it set to use the jack instead of the onboard mic (played music without speakers on =), but still, I think it’s set to be a mic jack.

I’m running windows vista, because there were no XP drivers for this laptop, and I can’t figure out how to change it from mic to line in?

Any ideas?
Thanks guys.

Edit: If it’s important, I opened up control pannel>sounds>recording. There’s “microphone” and “stereo mix.” Pretty sure I want “microphone.” When I double click on “sounds” with something plugged into the microphone jack, when I get over to “microphone” under “recording,” it displays two jacks, an “ATAPI Internal ATAPI Jack” (Which I thought was old tech for hard drives? But I’m assuming its the onboard microphone) and “Rear Panel 3.5mm Jack.” Sounds like what I want.
When I open “sounds” without something plugged in there, the 3.5 mm jack doesn’t show up.
But…its not like it helps me at all, it doesn’t seem to be a button or anything >.<
Should I post a screeny?


That hasn’t been our experience. Most laptops stay right where they are. It’s pretty difficult to switch back and forth because of straight hardware considerations, and then over and above that, you get to pick the right Windows Sound Panel settings which got changed or deleted in Vista.

Vista has also had troubles with device drivers not up to date or missing. It’s too new for mature software drivers.

I hope you didn’t buy this machine for sound production.


Well, I bought it partially to run a digital vinyl system (I’m a dj)- and it does that perfectly. I guess I’ll just have to move a desktop closer to record, haha.

There’s no way to change it at all, though? Because I’ll never, EVER use a mic with this machine. If, for some reason, I should find myself needing to use a microphone, I’ll just plug it into my mixer =)

<<<Well, I bought it partially to run a digital vinyl system (I’m a dj)- and it does that perfectly.>>>

It would have been good to know that way at the beginning. So this computer has very special audio driver software to manage the DJ system…?


Umm, it’s got an external soundcard that uses asio drivers (I think I’m saying that right?).

Basically, what it does is there are 4 input channels, left and right for two turntables. Each turntable is sending a constant tone (1.2khz) to the soundcard, which the program I’m running interprets as time data to control MP3’s (and then send them out across 4 output channels so I can use my mixer). I don’t think it has any special drivers, just I know I’ve seen the acronym “ASIO” around a bunch when I was setting things up…so yeah, the soundcard has that special driver, but the program doesn’t have any particular driver itself.

In my case, my “ADC” is the ESI Maya 44 USB (http://www.esi-audio.com/products/maya44usb/), if it’s important at all.

I’m a bit confused here - you started off talking about recording from the mic/line jack on your laptop, but now we’re onto an external USB sound card. So what’s the problem, and which are you trying to record from, internal or external?

Oh sorry, kozikowski asked if there were any special drivers, which is why I was talking about the ASIO drivers for the external card.

I’m trying to record off of the internal card- the external one is all full =)

The microphone input on standard sound cards are mono. They use a stereo jack in order to provide a voltage that is required by computer (electret) microphones.

You will need to check the specification for your laptop to see if it has the capability to detect and switch between microphone level mono input and line level stereo. If the input (socket) is mono, then nothing that you do will enable stereo recording from that input.

Ah…where would I find that information?
It’s an Asus M51Sn, but I can’t find any info on Asus’ website about that?

See if they have a downloadable manual Asus’ website - that should have the specifications.

Ah, yeah, it says it’s a mono mic jack >.<
I don’t suppose I could turn my Headphone/S/PIDF into a line in jack, eh? (I really don’t want to buy another USB interface just for a line in jack >.<)

You definitely won’t be able to turn your headphone out into a Line In. You’ll need some other hardware.

Are you trying to record your DJ performances using Audacity to capture the Line Out signal? If so, then you’re going to have two seemingly hefty audio programs running at once. I hope they don’t interfere (Audacity can be a Hard Drive resource hog).

I think if you take a step back and let us know exactly what you’re trying to record then we can be a bit more specific.