"Line In" function won't work

What are all the possible reasons why I can't get the
"line in" function to work on my "ESS 1869" sound card ?
(I know it's probally so easy but I just haven't figured
it out yet, I have tried things like checking my "line in"
settings in the sound mixer)(everything else works ok)
(Win95, 200MHZ Pentium, 64MB SDRAM)
Who is Participating?

Improve company productivity with a Business Account.Sign Up

rmarottaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
That "buzz" you hear is likely caused by amplification of the powerline's frequency.  It's sometimes referred to as "60Hz hum", and is usually caused by poorly/incorrectly grounded or unshielded signal cables.

> "I'm having a musician tape his music on cassette which I then need to copy to my hard drive so I can clean up any distortion and then copy to a cd."
Based on your stated purpose for this exercise, you're wasting your time with what you have.   I'm sorry, but much more sophisticated equipment and software is required to do what you want.

What are you trying to do with it.
What are you driving the line input with?
If you're trying to record, I guess you've checked that under the mixer properties too?

GaryL123098Author Commented:
I'm having a musician tape his music on cassette which I then need to copy to my
hard drive so I can clean up any distortion and then copy to a cd.  The source into
my sound card "line in" jack is the "line out" jack of a quality stereo system.
Yes, I've checked all the "properties" settings already, so I need to know what other
possible things I need to check.   Thanks !
NEW Internet Security Report Now Available!

WatchGuard’s Threat Lab is a group of dedicated threat researchers committed to helping you stay ahead of the bad guys by providing in-depth analysis of the top security threats to your network.  Check out this quarters report on the threats that shook the industry in Q4 2017.

Be sure your card is selected in the Preferred device list found at Control Panel> Multimedia.
Now I'm not a sound tech, but it's my understanding that you're going to need a high-quality soundcard to do what you are attempting.  I think you'll be introducing more distortion as analog sounds are digitized, depending on the quality of the soundcard.


Just adding to rmarotta's comment on quality of sound.

You will not be able to record at "cd quality" (16bit 44khz) high input signal for more than about 15 seconds as the buffer will fill and you will get drop outs.
8 bit should be ok.

Just as another test, try the mic input with a low input signal.

GaryL123098Author Commented:
I have software that will remove any distortion (Easy CD Creator Deluxe) so that
should not be a problem - once I get the music to the hard drive - but that's the problem,
I can't get any input at all thru the line-in, the microphone input works fine with the
microphone, but it won't work as a line in because it needs the impedence matching
that you get with the line-out/line-in matchup, and yes, my sound card is selected in
the preferred devices also.  Now it would seem that the line-in jack itself is ok because
 when I'm using my modem to go online it uses a short jumper to go from the modem to
the line-in jack so you can hear the modem sounds, which I do, but when I hook up the
line-in to the line-out of my stereo there is no input at all.
I think if the soundcard amplifies the modem sounds from the line in jack, then you have a bad cable coming from the stereo or another problem outside the computer.
The distortion I'm talking about is introduced by the soundcard's amplifier & A/D converter when used for recording the file from the line input.  That is, BEFORE any signal ever gets to your CD recording software.

GaryL123098Author Commented:
Yes, I understand the added distortion from the sound card, but the software should
clean that up as it goes from the hard drive to the cd recorder.

well, the cable is brand new but I'll check it somehow to be sure and let you know, and
the stereo system is brand new also, somehow I was wondering if the sound card
had a jumper that was set for receiving input from the modem but would need to be
changed for other "line-in" input, I'm just guessing there, but it seems like I've tried
everything and no one has been able to solve my problem so far, and I've tried asking
many others besides those on this forum here, so who ever finally figures this out
has their thinking cap on :-)  .....it will probally end up being something so simple we
will wonder why we didn't think of it before. (I hope :-)
GaryL123098Author Commented:
well...... (I had tried this before and it didn't work) - but I tried connecting the
earphone output of a little hand-held transistor radio to the line in jack of my sound
card and it works ! ----but I still can't get it to work with the line out on my brand new
AIWA NSX-A740 stereo system (which one of the main reasons was for this purpose),
so..... isn't that something...... a little tiny radio's earphone output works with the
lin-in on my sound card .......and the line-out on my fancy stereo does not.  
I called AIWA and they said to check the line out with another audio system to see
if it works because they have heard that it might just be incompatible with computer
sound cards but not other audio connections,  if it is just incompatible with sound cards
then that means I bought a fancy stereo system (I had as to the cheaper ones didn't have
line-out jacks) just for the line-out jack for nothing !   -wouldn't that beat all ?  has anyone
else ran into simuliar situations ?    Thanks to everyone for trying to help !
(I still have to check their line-out with another audio hookup yet)
Sounds like impedance mis-match,but if that's the case you should get something from the mike when you plug it into the line-in.Since the radio earphone output is high impedance,we know that's what your sound card wants.Anything in the range of ~2k-15k ohms should register.See if you can find the impedance specs for your stereo's line-out.I'm guessing it's probably after the amp,and is down around 8 ohms.Several things you could try if this is the case:

-Is there an un-amplified output from the stereo? Something like 'Preamp'?

-Try lowering the volume on the stereo nearly to zero.

-Insert an impedance matching transformer between the stereo and the PC.This will require soldering,cable fabrication,etc.Don't know if you're comfortable about doing this,but if you gotta get this combo to work,this may be the only way.You'll of course first have to know these two impedances.
I would think the headphone out is low impedance. (8 ohms)
The mis-match, if any, shouldn't kill the signal completely though.  Some soundcards have a jumper for matching the mic input.  Perhaps yours has one for the line-in?  Or, perhaps the same line-in jack is also used for the microphone.

Have you given any thought to what I said about your soundcard introducing more distortion?

This might be enough to defeat your purpose, even if you get the setup working.


GaryL123098Author Commented:
I didn't notice any "pre-amp" output and as far as turning the volume down to almost
zero, I don't think that affects the "line-out" output at all.

The only specification in my stereo manual for the "Line-Out" jack just gives the
output voltage, which is 200 mV, not the impedence, and I never got a manual for my
sound card (I have to have one mailed), so is there any other way to figure out the
2 impedences I have to match ?   Do impedence matching transformers cover a range,
like match a range of low impedence to a range of high impedence or is it more precise
like matching 6 ohms to 15K ohms ?

I tried using adapters and connecting the headphone jack of the stereo to the "line in"
of the sound card and that works but there is a background buzz, which may not be a
problem if my "Adaptec Easy CD Creater Deluxe" software's "clean-up" function can
remove it, (I just tried this particular hook-up and haven't had a chance to see if I can
remove the buzz with that software yet)

so..... if I can clean up that buzz, is there any reason to not record from the headphone
jack to the line-in jack ?   (It shouldn't cause any problems, right ?)

I still would prefer to use the normal line-out to line-in hook-up and still might see
about using an impedence matching transformer if I can figure out which one to get.

GaryL123098Author Commented:
The latest questions that I added 9:17 were not answered yet, I'll be glad to evaluate
after those are all answered as that should then have all the possibilities covered
as far as I can now tell.  Thanks !
Although as I said, I'm not an audio technician, here are somethings to consider:

Q.  >  ....so is there any other way to figure out the 2 impedences I have to match ?

A.  Quite difficult to do without manufacturers specs. for the equipment involved.
You can try verifying that the line output voltage from the amp is 200mv across an 8-ohm load using an oscilliscope.
That should also show you any distortion that may be introduced by the amplifier. (Compared to a clean signal within the frequency range of the amplifier used as the source.)

Q.  >  Do impedence matching transformers cover a range, like match a range of low impedence to a range of high impedence or is it more precise like matching 6 ohms to 15K ohms ?

A.  They cover a range.  Usually on the order of several thousands of ohms to a few ohms. (10-50k : 8)

Q.  >  so..... if I can clean up that buzz, is there any reason to not record from the headphone jack to the line-in jack ?  

A.  I think I've already explained that. (see: Friday, January 01 1999 - 09:00AM)

Q.  >  (It shouldn't cause any problems, right ?)

A.  See last paragraph in my proposed answer.

GaryL123098Author Commented:
I appreciate you trying to help, I guess it would seem that Adaptec (which includes a
cable for hook-up between a line-out and a sound card line-in) and CD recorder makers
may be giving people a false perception about how successfully most people can make
their own CD's on their computer, it would seem that for the average computer user that
success in this area might be the exception rather than the norm, because as far as
you saying that "more sophisticated equipment and software" is needed, if that is true
then Adaptec's claims would seem to be misleading as to what they say we should
be able to do, granted- better equipment/software would obivously give better results and
of course would be desired for a professional studio- but at least acceptable results
should be available for the average user using my setup or Adaptec just doesn't accurately
state what the average user should be able to do.
Are you sure of the source of the cable?
Adaptec produces CD-Recording software.  I'm surprised that they would supply such a cable, as I can't imagine how such a cable could be expected to fit the endless combinations of equipment that's out there.
Did they supply any documentation for the proper use of it?


GaryL123098Author Commented:
Yes, the cable actually comes in the Easy CD Creator Deluxe software box itself,
it has 2 male RCA jacks on one end (to hook up to the stereo line-out jacks) and
1 mini stereo phone plug that fits into the line-in of a sound card.  The manual says
that is how to hook it up.  They do not say anything about any
possibility of this not working. (and I have my stereo in the same room so the
supplied cable was the only one needed, I needed no extension cables)
Okay on the cable.  I just have not seen CD Creator except as it comes bundled with CD-R drives. (There was no analog audio cable)
Was any mention made about processing audio through various soundcards?
As I understand it, the analog/digital conversion is done quite differently on the soundcards used in PC multimedia cards than the more expensive cards made for quality audio reproduction.

I'm not saying that your method won't work.  But I am saying that if you're after quality sound recording, that isn't the way to do it.

I had hoped that someone more experienced in the audio field would join the thread.  I now wish that I had not posted as an "answer" because there may be a lot more information out there for you.
Now, I'm not selling or advocating, but if you look at prices for the EWS series "entry level" soundcard here:
I think you'll understand what I'm saying.
Good luck with it.

GaryL123098Author Commented:
The cable is only included with the deluxe version, not with the bundled
basic version of the software that comes with many CD Recorders.

(you can find info on the deluxe version on their web site at: http://www.adaptec.com/  )

As far as what type of sound cards to use the manual's only recommendation is to
use a 16-bit or better sound card for best results.

Even though a more expensive sound card should produce better results, the card I now
have (ESS 1869) Gallant 3D wavetable SND-GC 660W) should at least have some
kind of results from the line-out output of my stereo, but as we are guessing, it is
possibly a problem with the stereo line-out being so far from an impedence match
with the line-in on the sound card as to keep anything from getting thru at all,
especially since I can get input into the sound card line-in from the headphone jack
of the stereo so at least we know the sound card itself works, even though I would
need to figure a way to filter out the "buzz" (from 60 hz powerline ?), perhaps there
is a 60hz filter available somewhere. (the Adaptec software doesn't seem to do a
very good job on that background buzz)

and while a more expensive sound card may be something I might consider later on,
that still wouldn't solve the impedence mismatch, unless of course there are both
high and low impedence "line-in" sound cards, but I figured that the line-in impedence
was basically the same on all cards.
Most of todays microphones used with cassette recorders and computers are low-impedance devices.
If the soundcard has a separate mic-in try it with the amp's line-out.
Also check for that possible jumper I mentioned earlier on the soundcard to change mic impedance.
You might get something satisfactory to work.
One other test might be to use the output from the jack on the front of your CD-ROM to the soundcard.  It is a low-level signal, and many drives have a volume control for it as well.
Don't know if this applies to line-in,but I would think so:
I've noticed true Creative Labs Soundblaster cards are a lot less fussy about microphone impedance than the lower-end 'generics' using ESS,Soundpro,etc. chipsets,which show a definate lowering of recording signal strength with an impedance change of as little as 500 ohms.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.