My USB Headset Microphone Doesn't Work

by Matt Durrant

USB headsets can be used in sound recording, speech recognition, VoIP (Voice over IP) calling or online computer games. They combine headphones with a microphone and connect to your computer via USB, rather than the traditional 3.5mm audio jacks. Because of the way these headsets connect to your system, you may need to adjust program settings to ensure they work correctly. The method depends on the operating system.

Check the specifications for your headset to ensure that your operating system is compatible.

Download and install the newest drivers for your microphone from the manufacturer's website, if available. Not all USB headsets require drivers.

Ensure the headset is securely plugged into a functioning USB port on your PC. Try unplugging and reinserting the cable.

Check that your headset is switched on and the volume is turned up, if the headset has built-in power or volume controls.

Adjust your computer's audio settings. Select your headset for both microphone and speakers, and check that the volume is set to an audible level. See the following sections to learn how to do this on your operating system.

Windows XP

Open the Windows Control Panel by clicking "Start" and then "Control Panel." Double-click "Sound and Audio Devices."

Click the "Audio" tab, and make sure your headset is selected in the drop-down box under "Default Device" for both "Sound Playback" and "Sound Recording."

Click "Volume..." on both "Sound Playback" and "Sound Recording," and check that the volume is turned up and the "Mute" box is not ticked.

Click "OK" to save your changes.

Windows Vista and Windows 7

Click the start button, "Control Panel," then "Sound."

Right-click your headset and click "Set As Default Device" or "Set As Default Communications Device," depending on how you wish to use your headset. Select your headset, click "Properties," and then click the "Levels" tab. Ensure the volume is turned up and your headset is not muted.

Click the "Recording" tab. Right-click your headset, and click "Set As Default Device" or "Set As Default Communications Device," depending on how you wish to use the microphone. Select your headset, click "Properties," and then click the "Levels" tab. Ensure the volume is turned up and your microphone is not muted.

Click "OK" to save your changes.

Mac OSX

Open "System Preferences" by clicking its icon in the dock.

Click "Sound." Click the "Output" button, and then select your headset in the box. Ensure the volume is turned up and the headset is not muted.

Click the "Input" button. Select your headset, and ensure the volume is turned up and the microphone is not muted. Speak into your microphone to check that the blue bars next to "Input Level" move.

About the Author

Matt Durrant began writing professionally in 2008 and has been published in Malaga's "Boutique," Tokyo's "Metropolis" and "Leeds Guide." He enjoys travel writing, especially about Japan. Durrant is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese and English at the University of Leeds.

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