Why won"t my microphone/headset work?

I have tried to get my headset to work for Skype - there is no apparent
software issue. the headset is brand-new - I don't think that is the problem.
I have a good fast computer running XP - all the audio works fine through
the speakers but nothing is working in or out on the headset, whether I
plug it in front or back. Any suggestions?
Who is Participating?
First off, verify that you have the plugs plugged in and in the correct spots. Next make sure that the audio works by playing an MP3 files or some other sound file.

Assuming that works, make sure that the microphone is not muted Control Panel > Sounds and Devices > Advanced (under device volume on first tab).

You may have to select the "Options" menu and view the properties to display the microphone and line-in volume properties. Make sure the "Mute" box is NOT checked on both of these. Try that.

If that doesn't work view the Microphones advanced properties in this window ("Options" > "Advanced" - click on Advanced Button) and turn on MIC Boost.

If that doesn't work make sure everything is set up in Skype similarly and that you don't have to push a special key to talk.
Have you attempted to use your headphones on any other device type, such as a different pc, portable radio, etc.?
Brand new out of the box equals broken sometimes. If you can test your headphones out in this manner then we can rule quite a few things out. :-)
ChickenlilAuthor Commented:
I can try that on my laptop later - but this is the second headset
I have bought  - I assumed the first one, which came with Voice Recognition
software, was broken - so I threw them out, and bought new Altec Lansing
headset - which I will test, but I am pretty sure now that's not the problem.
Get expert help—faster!

Need expert help—fast? Use the Help Bell for personalized assistance getting answers to your important questions.

Check in your sound volume controls to be sure the line you are using for output is not muted and the volume is high enough. You may have to go through 'options' - 'properties' - and check off the line out that you are using to be sure it appears on the volume control.
ChickenlilAuthor Commented:
Yes, I have checked all of those things, but I am not sure about the "line out"
part - will doublecheck it. Thanks!
When i say 'line out' I mean whatever output jack you are using. For the front jack, you can check to see if it's properly cabled to the sound card. For the rear, it depends which output you are using. Try the speaker output first, since you know it works. If it doesn't work with the speaker output, check the headphones for any controls you may need to adjust..volume, etc.

You may need to select the output within whatever software you are using for Skype, as well.

If you have no luck, post your sound card as well as headphone specs.
Just something to keep in mind as you are plugging things in 'to see' if it works.

The MIC and Headphone jacks may -look- the same but they are very different electrically.

MIC jacks are supplied with +5 VDC to power the MIC and plugging in head phone/speaker/line-in/line-out into the MIC jack by mistake -may- damage whatever you plugged in or the MIC function in the system.
I will give you that most things have enough inherent resistance that no real damage occurs but small non-powered speakers often don't. (Commonly used in headsets and occasionally as external speakers intended for laptops.)
Plugging the external MIC into the wrong jack isn't likely to break anything.
It's plugging the wrong thing into the MIC jack that could get you.

The 3.5 mm pinouts on the plug are tip(1)-ring(2)-ring(3)

1- Signal
2- +5VDC
3- Common Ground

1- Left
2- Right
3- Common Ground

Line-in and line-out are the same pinout as the speaker jacks.

ChickenlilAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the step-by-step on checking the settings.

I think the comment from PCBonez is appropriate to this issue-

Plugging the external MIC into the wrong jack isn't likely to break anything.
It's plugging the wrong thing into the MIC jack that could get you.

Back last summer I tried hooking up my old speakers to the front jacks -
and I vaguely recall hearing something very bad and loud happen...

I got new powered speakers, plugged them in the back and they were fine.

I may have plugged the old ones into the mic jack.

On that assumption - because all the settings have been adjusted, and still
no sound in or out of the headset - I am having a friend come over to see if
he can fix it--after I told him what I thought it might be, he said he could fix it.

I will post again when we have a result on that - he is going to open up the box,
which is something I don't do.

Thanks, --oh and the Skype directions say to turn OFF mic boost?
ChickenlilAuthor Commented:
OK, I just spent an hour on the phone, using a logmein rescue tech connection,
to try to straighten this out. We managed to find some little tricky things that
were in the sound recorder audio properties, and got the microphone to start
working, and the headphones to work, plugged in the back. Now the only thing
is that Skype still won't work - test calls will not work - so after spending a lot
of time messing around with all that, I am still not able to hear my voice play
back on the recorded call. I think we are getting closer to the answer but I
have no idea what the hold-up is - I am going to screw around with it later
and see if Skype has a tech support or something. I will get back to this then.

the Skype directions BTW say to try mic boost on or off - either way, it won't
come through on the test call -
but the good news is now the headset does work...
Just not with Skype.
ChickenlilAuthor Commented:
I'm accepting the answer with the info about adjusting the settings, because that did
help - but splitting the points among all because actually none of the answers solved
my problem.

What did work - after wrangling with getting the microphone to work - but it did not
work on Skype - was when my friend did a logmein rescue remotely and went to
google " update RealTek audio 97 drivers" or something like that - then we downloaded
an update to the audio, installed and voila, I could hear my voice play back on Skype.
so that was it....
Thanks to all who contributed -
;>) Lil
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.