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How to setup a USB Audio device in Windows XP

[ Edited ]

In Control Panel double click on the Sounds and Audio devices icon. You will see this screen:

XP Sound Main.JPG

Figure 1. XP Main Volume window

This is the default opening window for configuring your Audio devices in XP. The Main Device volume slider sets the volume for the headphone speakers. This volume control is the same in all Playback windows. Selecting the Main Device mute box mutes the headphones, not the microphone and is mirrored in all Playback windows. Click on the Advanced options button.

XP Main Advanced.JPG

Figure 2. Advanced Volume options window

If you do not see a Microphone section when you open this window, click on the Options tab at the top of the window and see if you have a choice to select it from the device options listed in the new window. If the microphone is unchecked, check it now. If there is no microphone in the list of devices, you cannot control sidetone/voice feedback with your headset/microphone.

The Microphone volume slider and mute box control sidetone or voice feedback from the microphone back to the headphone speakers. This option allows you to hear what you are saying into the microphone. If the volume is too high, you may get severe feedback noise in your ear from your environment such as speakers, or even your own voice. Checking the Mute box turns off the feedback feature. These controls DO NOT affect microphone output volume in your audio application. Close this window and click on the Speaker Volume button.

xp main spr balance.jpg

Figure 3. Headphone/Speaker Balance control

Checking the box "Move all slide…same time" allows you to maintain an even balance in your headphone/speakers. Close this window. Click on the bottom "Advanced" button.

xp main accellerat.jpg

Figure 4. Advanced Audio Properties window

In the Speakers window you can select your device and set the properties for it from a drop down list of devices. The "Effects" tab generally has no user settings in it. Click on the "Performance" tab.

XP Main Advanced Properties Performance.JPG

Figure 5. Advanced Properties: Performance

Changing the default settings may have an adverse reaction on how sound is delivered from your application. You can always revert to the defaults by clicking the "Restore Defaults" button. Close this window. At the top of the Sounds and Audio Devices Properties window, click on the "Audio" tab.

XP Audio Main.JPG

Figure 6. Audio Device settings window.

Before dealing with these settings specifically, there are some issues that develop from trying to make Windows’ default sound configuration application do more than it is capable of. This comes from looking at these configuration options too literally. It is often desired to have one device for listening to music or movies and another device for Voice applications. On the surface looking at the tabs in this window, Audio and Voice are separate configuration modes. This is true for the listening portion, but the Mixer that was described earlier cannot handle two input sources, that is microphones simultaneously. This means that while it appears as though you can set up two devices such as your sound card and a headset with a microphone to operate independently, in reality it cannot be done. The result is that you can have system sounds come from a set of speakers, and configure your headset to be the device for Voice. The downside is that the microphone will produce side tone from the speakers creating a lot of feedback. The sidetone cannot be muted on the headset as the speakers are the device for Audio playback and do not have a sidetone feature to mute. The device selected in Audio for playback is what is controlled by the Main Volume settings.

Looking at the Audio Device settings window, there are two drop down windows. Select your device in each, bearing in mind the previous paragraph. Speaker volume sliders are the same as the Main Volume window settings, but in the Sound recording Volume window, this controls the output of the microphone into the voice application you will be using as opposed to the sidetone/feedback volume mentioned at the beginning of this article. The Advanced buttons open the same Advanced options dealing with Effects and Hardware Acceleration as configured earlier. Close the Audio window and click on the Voice tab.

XP Voice Main.JPG

Figure 7. Voice Device settings

For the most trouble free configuration, make the Default devices the same in both Audio and Voice windows. When you have selected your devices and set the volume levels, click the Apply button. Again, the Advanced buttons open the same options that were set earlier.

One of the most overlooked features of the Voice window is the Test hardware…button. It is an easy way to ensure the microphone is working and that you will not have massive feedback when using the headset in a voice application. Press the Test hardware button.


The Test Hardware will be in a separate post.

Message Edited by Mike_M on 12-08-2008 10:50 AM
Message Edited by Mike_M on 12-08-2008 11:16 AM
Message Edited by Mike_M on 12-08-2008 11:24 AM
Message Edited by Mike_M on 03-27-2009 09:02 AM
Thank you for your post.

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