Mike input mystery

Mike level shows graphically in Audacity but signal won’t record, nor does it record in Windows Sound Recorder (XP). However the click of the mike switch being turned on and off records and plays back. Mike works in other audio devices.

Are you sure that it is not just recording really really quietly?

As a test. try recording something, then use the “Amplify” effect with its default settings.

The click of the mike switch is loud and clear, so recording and playback levels are adequate. The mike level is generous on the input meter but absolutely flat in recording and playback – except for the click.

I have an idea what it may be, but I need you to run a little test.

Using your recording that has the clicks, select a section of the tracks in between the clicks (left click and drag across the track). The selected area should be only the silence between switching on and switching off the microphone and not the clicks. Now apply the Amplify effect using the default settings.

Also a couple of questions:
What sort of microphone are you using? (make and model number would be nice).
Is your computer a desktop or a laptop?
Are you sure that you have the microphone plugged into a microphone socket and not a “Line” socket? (is it colour coded?)
“Mike works in other audio devices.” - what other audio devices?

<<<“Mike works in other audio devices.” - what other audio devices?>>>

We live on seemingly unimportant details. We can’t see over your shoulder so we have to inspect every word you write. Make 'em count.


Sorry for the delay in replying – I very much appreciate your help. Here are some answers:
The mike is a Nexxtech 3303013 omni tie-clip – cheap, but it works on a Sony boom-box tape machine, the only thing I have to try it on besides two computer sound cards. I get no apparent results on either computer with Windows (XP) sound recorder, but the approach of amplifying the recorded track in Audacity works, sort of. The sound is extremely muddy and sounds off-mike by a mile, but it is there.

We progress.

That microphone is the basis of the Radio Shack 3013 tie-tack microphone. Terrific microphone. We have many of them around the building to record training sessions and I’ve even used them for distributed sound services in videoconference sessions.

When was the last time you changed the battery? ‘Never’ is not a good answer even if the microphone is new. Our mics take a silver 357 and a new battery makes a startling difference in sound quality and volume. That could be the muffled thing.

This is a “standard” microphone and not a Computer Microphone. It carries its own battery and doesn’t use the computer battery. However, it also doesn’t have very loud volume. We can only get it to work raw by plugging it into the sound card and click on the “+20dB microphone boost.” This is usually buried in the “Switches” tab and your sound card may not have one. We have computers that do not have +20 boost and we can not use them for live capture.

There is a simple thing you can try. Clean the metal end of the connector with alcohol, vodka (not kidding), or an alcohol-based glass cleaner and a paper towel. Dry the connector thoroughly with a second towel and plug it into the sound card firmly several times. It’s easy to get the connector to “hang” 3/4 of the way in and not make good contact.


Another thought. You guarantee absolutely that you are plugging the microphone into the pink Mic-In connector, right, and not Line-In? Everybody tries to smoosh those two together and they’re not at all the same. Some sound cards leak and you can be listening to the Line-In and hear the microphone waaaaaaay in the background. The battery switch on the microphone is enormously louder than the voice, so I’m not shocked that it works when nothing else does.


Thanks for all this advice. Some items will take a bit of time – no vodka in the house, sadly, nor a spare battery. As for the sound card input, it’s definitely the pink mike line, not line in, which is occupied.

Control panel provides mike volume but apparently not the boost you speak of.

Perhaps I should change either the mike or the recording device to get a better match. The old Sony is muddy and hissy, and was just a means of checking mike function.