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Jan 31 2012

Computer Help Needed

So they came and installed the new equipment in my office for my radio show today, but there’s a problem. The microphone plugs into my computer through a USB connection, with an adapter that runs from the standard XLR plug to the USB port, but when I plug it in it also kills my sound. I can’t hear anything coming out of the speakers with it plugged in. Is there a setting that allows me to channel the mic input through that USB port but keep the speaker output going to my regular headphone jack or to the computer’s speakers? I’m using Windows 7.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    bruceh

    According to (very) brief research, it seems that Windows doesn’t support more than one sound card, which I think is effectively what happens when you plug your mic into a usb port. That is, your adapter becomes a sound device that blocks your normal sound device.

    The easiest thing to do is use a different adapter that plugs into the mic or line-in port on your sound card. Otherwise, look for a virtual sound card solution (software).

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-sound/output-to-2-sound-cards-simultaneously/4e57dd01-a68c-4ffe-af3e-66d7f895584b

    There are some mentions of possible workarounds farther down in that post.

  2. 2
    AnatomyProf

    You should be able to fix the sound settings in the control panel. Sound has become linked to the mic. Leave the sound in sitting alone but switch out back to you sound card. I’d give specifics but I’m on my ipad

  3. 3
    Erik

    I don’t know specifically about Windows 7, but it should be pretty close to XP in this respect.

    Open the control panel and find the “Sounds and Audio Devices” settings (that’s what it’s called on XP, but it should be something pretty similar).

    From there, select the “Audio” tab and there should be sections for a Sound playback device, a Sound recording device, and a MIDI device.

    For the sound playback device just select your sound card, or whatever option is available that isn’t the mic.

  4. 4
    Leo T.

    My first thought is that there’s something being set as the default playback device that shouldn’t be. Right-click the speaker icon at the bottom right of the screen (unless you’ve moved the taskbar) and choose “Playback devices”. If the speakers aren’t already set as the default device, right-click them and choose “Set as Default Device”.

  5. 5
    Leo T.

    @bruceh: That’s not even close to being accurate. The existence of USB sound devices does not prevent conventional sound devices (such as a Realtek chipset) from working on Windows 7.

    The problem in the link was with sending the same sound output to multiple devices at once — sending different outputs simultaneously is entirely possible.

  6. 6
    Greg Laden

    I’m using Windows 7

    There’s your problem …

  7. 7
    Leo T.

    @Greg Laden: Ease up on the OS slapfights before I go find a Solaris admin to yell at everyone.

  8. 8
    Erik

    @Greg Laden: Agreed with CSB–not the place. I’m an avid Linux junkie, but Windows 7 is a pretty solid OS overall. Bloated, but pretty stable. I run it at home for gaming and such.

  9. 9
    Ed Brayton

    Okay, thanks for all the help. Simple fix, as I suspected it would be.

  10. 10
    jjgdenisrobert

    Well, for one, it’s not an “adapter”. It’s an audio interface, which converts the signal coming in from your mic from analog to digital. Windows 7 is able to handle multiple audio interfaces, but not very well. If you’re serious about audio, get yourself a Mac, and don’t look back. Pretty much everything that has to do with audio in Windows kinda works, but is not intended for serious work. It’s possible to clunk along with it, but once you start using audio on a Mac, you won’t want to look back.

  11. 11
    'Tis Himself

    It didn’t take long for the OS wars and “you should be using a Mac, much more gooderer than Windoze” to start.

  12. 12
    exdrone

    Here are a couple of recommendations that always go over well with my wife when I make them – “Have you checked to make sure that it’s plugged in?” and “Did you remember to back it up before that happened?” Hope that helps.

  13. 13
    Leo T.

    @OM: It’s sort of like that bumper sticker: “I’m fine with Jesus, it’s his fan club I can’t stand”. You can replace Jesus with Steve Jobs…and then you’ll be a Mac user.

  14. 14
    Leo T.

    Seriously, though, shut up about which OS is better. Every last one of them does something really stupid somewhere.

  15. 15
    Ed Brayton

    I always laugh when people evangelize for a particular OS. I’m 44 years old. I’ve been using PCs with Windows since the days of 3.1. I’m not learning to use a Mac or how to install and use one of the variations of unix at this point, I don’t care whether it cures lepers and will give me eternal life. And I’m not the least bit concerned about how unhip that makes me.

  16. 16
    Ichthyic

    ^^

    huzzah!

    for the record, I’ve used 2 dozen different OS’s at one point or another when I was doing IT.

    at the time it came out, I rather liked OS2.

    but really, so damn tired of hearing this shit. They all have issues, one way or another, and Ed is absolutely right; it’s definitely one of those: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” things.

    If you’ve got a combo of OS and apps that works well for you, at this point there is no good reason to change.

    Hell, these days I’m starting to play with Android and ICS!

    now that’s some sucktasticly buggy os software (especially the latest Ice Cream).

  17. 17
    valhar2000

    And I’m not the least bit concerned about how unhip that makes me.

    Better not let PZ hear you say that: he’ll kick you out of FTB.

  18. 18
    Ed Brayton

    Contrary to popular belief, I own FTB. I can’t be kicked out. Though I do hear rumors that PZ’s army of cephalopod warriors is preparing a military takeover. Of course, I hear them mostly from PZ. :)

  19. 19
    jjgdenisrobert

    Although I do believe MacOS is overall superior to Windows, that’s not the point I was making. I was making the undeniable point that *for audio applications*, MacOS is *far* superior to Windows. Windows is usable in that area, but MacOS is *designed for it*, which makes a huge difference.

    Talk to any audio professional, and you’ll get the same answer (if only because Apogee only supports Macs). Would anyone claim that MacOS is superior to Windows for gaming? Of course not. No one would claim that statement as a salvo in the OS flame wars.

    There are real differences between OSes, and that makes them appropriate for certain application domains. In the audio space, you have to realize that Windows’ audio subsystem was designed with games in mind (DirectSound), whereas MacOS’ was designed with Pro Audio applications in mind (CoreAudio).

  20. 20
    Reginald Selkirk

    Contrary to popular belief, I own FTB. I can’t be kicked out.

    I wouldn’t put it past you to kick yourself out, just for either the principle or the humour.

  21. 21
    plutosdad

    I bet the problem is W7 is probably recognizing the mic as a headset, so it’s sending the output to non-existent headphones.

    If the software you are using has a specific place to choose the input/output, you can set the software to use the “headset”, and then go back to the “Devices and Printers” and right click on the icon for the mic or speakers, select “sound settings” then click on the speakers and “set as default device”. The trick is to make sure in your software you’re using to record, you still have the mic selected as the device to use.

    This way I am able to successfully use my headset for webex videoconferencing, while still using my speakers for other computer sounds.

  22. 22
    Chris from Europe

    MacOS is overall superior to Windows

    Apple doesn’t exactly have the best record on security issues, while Microsoft has made significant improvements. MacOS may be usable thanks to the shell, but Windows has the benefit on an UI that isn’t extremely annoying.

  23. 23
    johnhorstman

    #2/3 have it – either Windows or the driver-control application is automatically (and incorrectly) switching your audio output device when you plug the USB converter in. Open the Sound control panel, and change the default output device back to whatever sound card/port your speakers are connected to.

  24. 24
    Doug Little

    There are real differences between OSes, and that makes them appropriate for certain application domains

    That’s why I use virtualization (vmware) and run them all under Linux. Windows 7 in a window is pretty cool, just use it for my iPhone as Linux has trouble with iPhones at the minute, plus my rig is not powerful enough or the technology advanced enough (direct access to the hard ware from within the virtual environment) at the moment to game in a virtual environment, wine takes care of that.

    But I can use different OS’s to test software that I write without having to reboot or partition the crap out of hard drives.

    Hardware vendors are starting to support the concept of virtualization which should reduce the overhead enough so that the client OS is just as fast as the host OS when accessing hardware, etc.

  25. 25
    Leo T.

    @jjgdenisrobert: Does it age me that I see “Apogee only supports Macs” and think “but I thought the Commander Keen games were DOS”?

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