How Do I Test The Microphone On My Laptop? 🎙️

Losing a good take due to improper equipment setup is nothing short of a nightmare. Before recording, you should always check if your mic is working correctly and make sure your laptop is set to the right input source.

To test the microphone on a Windows laptop, go to Settings > System > Sound, and in the Input section, go to Test your microphone. On a MacBook, go to System Preferences > Sound, select the Input tab, and test your mic on the Input Level bar.

In this article, I will explain the ways you can test your mic on different laptops in more detail. I will also go over the issues that most frequently arise when you try to connect an external microphone and discuss how to deal with them.

How Do I Test The Microphone On My Laptop 1

Easy Ways To Test the Microphone on Your Laptop

How To Test the Microphone on Your Windows Laptop

Once you’ve connected your mic to your laptop, follow these simple steps to test if everything’s working as intended:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Choose System and select Sound.
  3. Find Input.
  4. In the Test your microphone section, look at the blue bar that indicates sound. If the bar moves as you speak, the microphone is working.

How To Test the Microphone on Your Mac Laptop

Many people use Mac laptops for sound production. If you’re connecting your microphone to a Mac, here’s how you can check if it’s working correctly:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Choose Sound and select Input.
  3. Specify the microphone you’d like to test.
  4. Look at the Input Level bar as you speak into the mic. If it follows the sound, your microphone is working.

Setting Up an External Microphone on Your Laptop

To ensure your mic works properly on your laptop, it’s essential to connect it correctly and set up the right input source so your laptop doesn’t try and use its built-in microphone. Before we dive into troubleshooting tips, let’s discuss how to connect a mic to your laptop the right way.

How To Set Up the Microphone on Your Windows Laptop

Let’s start with Windows laptops. Here’s how to set up your external mic:

  1. Connect your microphone to your laptop.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Choose System and select Sound.
  4. Select Input.
  5. In Choose your input device, specify the microphone you want to use.

Note that most USB-connected microphones require a driver to work properly with a Windows laptop. Typically, the drivers are downloaded automatically; however, sometimes, you will need to install one yourself or update the current driver before you can use the mic.

How To Set Up the Microphone on Your Mac Laptop

With Mac laptops, connecting a mic is not quite as easy. Each model has a different set of ports available for connecting external sound input devices. So, before you do anything, you need to identify the ports your laptop has and determine whether your mic is compatible.

Here are some possible options you may have:

  • Audio input port: Older Mac laptops have these; they use a stereo miniplug connector. If you use it to connect your mic, your input source will be Built-In Input.
  • USB: Newer Mac laptops have USB 4 ports, and some of the older ones have USB 3. If you manage to connect via USB, that will be your input source.
  • Thunderbolt: Thunderbolt 3 or 4 is present in most Mac laptops. These ports are compatible with Thunderbolt cables and USB-C. You can use them to connect your mic with the help of audio interface hardware.

If you’re experiencing issues with connecting the microphone to your MacBook, watch the helpful YouTube video below. It provides tips on how to ensure a stable physical connection to an external device and overcome issues with ports:

USB mics can be particularly tricky to connect. If you’re considering using one of these, check out this article, where I discuss their pros and cons to help you decide if they are a good fit.

Once you figure out a reliable way to connect your microphone to a MacBook, it’s time to set it up using the following steps:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Choose Sound and select Input.
  3. Set the mic or audio interface you’d like to use as the preferred system input source.

If you’re using GarageBand, here’s how to set up your external mic in the app:

  1. Click on the audio track and go to Smart Controls.
  2. In Recording Settings, specify the input source depending on what type of connection you’re using: Built-In for an Audio input port, USB for a USB mic, or mic channel if you’re working with an audio interface.
  3. Select Format, then choose Mono input for one-channel input source and Stereo for multiple channels.
  4. In the Recording Level section, adjust the input volume to your preference.

Troubleshooting the Microphone on Your Laptop

If you’ve carefully followed the steps for setting up your external mic, yet the test shows it’s not working properly, there are more issues to be solved. Let’s go over some ways to address typical problems with connecting external mics.

Run Troubleshooter

Start by running the built-in Windows troubleshooter. If there’s any system issue that doesn’t allow your mic to run properly, it will be uncovered and fixed on the spot. Here’s a simple way to start the troubleshooter:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Choose System and select Sound.
  3. Select Troubleshoot.

If this method doesn’t reveal any issues, there’s an alternative way to check for system faults. Instead of troubleshooting the Sound, try the Speech Troubleshooter:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Time & Language, then choose Speech.
  3. Locate the Microphone section and click Get started.
  4. In the pop-up window, you will be asked to select the issues you want to check from the provided list. Go with Cortana can’t hear me to look for issues related to sound input.
  5. Specify your mic as the device you want to troubleshoot.

Allow Access To Microphone for Apps

Another issue could be that the app you’re using is not granted access to your mic. You need to check your app permissions and ensure those that require using a microphone are allowed to do so.

Here’s how to grant apps permission to use the mic on Windows laptops:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Privacy.
  3. Choose Microphone.
  4. Click Change, then Allow apps to access your microphone.
  5. Make sure the Allow desktop apps to access your microphone option is enabled.
  6. If you only want certain apps to have access to your mic, specify them in the Choose which Microsoft Store apps can access your microphone section.

If you’re using a Mac laptop, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Go to System Settings.
  2. Choose Privacy & Security.
  3. Select Microphone.
  4. You will see the list of apps that ask for permission to use your mic. Make sure to grant permission to every app you need to use the mic with.

Adjust the Volume

Sometimes the mic isn’t working properly because it’s set to a very low volume. As a result, the sound signal is too weak to be heard even if the mic is recording. Try turning the volume up and see if it helps resolve the issue.

Here’s how you can change the mic volume on Windows:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Choose System and select Sound.
  3. In Input, where your mic should be specified, choose Device Properties.
  4. Locate the Levels section.
  5. You will see Microphone and Microphone Boost bars with a switch that allows for adjustments. Use them to turn the mic volume up and test the mic again.

Here’s how to turn the volume up on your MacBook:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Choose Sound and select Input.
  3. Choose your mic.
  4. Under the list of input devices, you will find the Input volume bar with a switch. Drag it to the right to turn the volume up, then test the mic again.

Update the Drivers

Windows laptops require compatible and up-to-date drivers to connect to external devices successfully and use them without errors. If you’ve tried the previous fixes and your mic still isn’t working as intended, it may be due to your drivers being outdated.

Here’s how you can check for available driver updates:

  1. Go to Device Manager.
  2. Locate Audio inputs and outputs and search for your mic within this category.
  3. Right-click your mic and choose Update driver.

Another thing you can do is visit the manufacturer’s website and look for the drivers they offer for their mics. Download and install the latest version available, then test your microphone again to see if it works better.

For Mac laptops, it also helps to turn on Dictation. If any files required for the proper connection to the microphone are missing or other system issues are getting in the way, enabling Dictation will force your laptop to resolve them. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Choose Keyboard.
  3. Go to the Dictation tab and enable Dictation.

Enable the Mic

Sometimes, when you switch between input sources, you may enable and disable some of the connected devices to ensure only the right one is currently used by your laptop. Whatever the reason, it’s possible you disabled the microphone in the past and forgot to put the switch back on.

To check if your microphone is currently enabled on a Windows laptop, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Choose System and select Sound.
  3. In the Input section, select Manage sound devices.
  4. Among the devices recognized by your laptop, the disabled ones will be grouped into one section at the bottom.
  5. If you see that the mic you’re trying to use is among the disabled devices, click on it and choose Enable.

Restart Your Laptop

If none of the fixes above help, there’s a chance you’re experiencing a glitch that can be resolved by restarting your laptop. As with many similar glitches, this simple trick resolves all issues and allows for proper connectivity to other devices. It’s best to turn the laptop off and wait for a few minutes before turning it back on for a full reboot.

Cleaning Your Microphone

The troubleshooting tips offered above can typically resolve issues related to connectivity. However, if none of the solutions seem to help, the problem probably lies with your mic. Most of the time, it won’t deliver quality sound, or any sound at all, if it’s dusty or dirty.

So, an effective way to deal with mic problems would be to perform a thorough cleaningOpens in a new tab. of your device. Here are some tips on how to do it properly.

Cleaning the Grid

Most microphones come with grids that can be unscrewed. If possible, detach the grid part beforehand to clean it safely.

Then, see if the windscreen can be removed as well. It will be easier to perform a thorough cleaning if the windscreen can be washed separately. Use 70% isopropyl alcohol or water for washing, or simply throw away the old windscreen and replace it with a new one.

Once the windscreen is dealt with, use a brush to wash the surface of the grid. Again, using isopropyl alcohol is best, but you can also use water and soap. Leave the grid to dry completely before reassembling your mic.

Cleaning Miniature Microphones

Cleaning smaller devices can be more challenging. They must be disassembled, too; otherwise, washing them properly if they are not waterproof is impossible.

Use demineralized water to give the mic a thorough rinse. It will remove all the dust and any solid particles stuck in it. Then, perform disinfection using isopropyl alcohol. Allow the mic to dry before putting back the windscreen (washed or replaced) and reassembling the device.

Does Your Microphone Require Repair?

If cleaning doesn’t resolve the issue, it could mean that your mic is broken. Try connecting it to an alternative device (not the laptop you’ve been trying so far) and try recording the sound. If you can’t connect, no sound has been recorded, or the quality of the sound is poor, reach out to a specialist for diagnostics and repair.

Final Thoughts

You can easily test your microphone in the laptop settings (or System Preferences on Mac). Go to the Sound section, select your mic as the input device, and test the sound using the input level bar.

If your mic isn’t working properly, make sure it’s set up correctly and try running the troubleshooter. Alternatively, check if all necessary apps are allowed to use the mic, turn up the input volume, and update the drivers.

Finally, see if there’s an issue with the mic itself: clean it to remove dust and dirt, or reach out to specialists for repair.


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I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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