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Troubleshooting Microphone Problems

I'm having trouble with my microphone, what can I do?

Check the Connection

Sometimes these types of errors are just a small oversight. Plugging your mic into the right port on your sound card can sometimes be confusing or easily mistaken when you're in a rush. Most analog mic connections are pink and belong in the corresponding pink connector on your sound device. Some devices aren't color coded, and that's when it is time to consult the manual for your sound device to be absolutely sure your mic is plugged into the right port. Checking this problem first may save you hours of troubleshooting.


USB Mics

Try swapping ports. If you're using a USB port on the front of your case, switch it to one of the ones in the back. If you're using a USB hub, try bypassing the hub and see if that makes any difference. You may be able to track down the issue a lot faster this way.


Check your drivers

This applies to both your mic (if you're using a USB one) and your sound device. Sound device drivers are crucial, especially if you are running Windows Vista. Check the manufacturer of your sound device (such as Realtek, Creative, SigmaTel, etc) and visit their website for driver updates. If you're not sure where to find this information, check your motherboard's manual (for on-board sound) and/or consult the manufacturer of your PC.


Make sure your Mic is correctly configured in Windows

Ultimately, Windows is in charge of your mic. To make sure it is properly configured in Windows, please follow these instructions:

  1. Click the Start button and then select Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel, select Sound and Audio Devices
  2. Click the Voice tab
  3. Under "Voice Recording", make sure the "Default device" is set to your sound card's INPUT
  4. Click Volume
  5. Make sure the "Mic Volume" meter is turned up and that "Select" is checked underneath the volume slider. Don't turn the volume up too loud though, as it will most likely result in Mic distortion.
  6. Close to volume settings and then click on Test hardware... to test your setup
  7. If it works correctly, move on to the next section. If not, you may need to update the drivers on your sound card and make sure the mic connection is correct.


Did your sound card's software take over?

Many driver packages for audio devices include software that is designed to make managing your audio simpler. Some times these programs try to take over the way your audio devices are managed in Windows. Examples of this software are the Creative Mix Console and the RealTek HD Audio Manager.

Check the settings in that software as well. If there are any sort of erroneous enhancements that are enabled, try turning those off and see if the issues persist.

If you suspect that this software is the root of the trouble, check with your audio device manufacturer and see if they offer a "driver-only" option for updating drivers.


Checking the Mic settings in the game

So, you've made sure that your mic is correctly connected, properly configured in Windows and it has passed the device test. The next thing to look at is the mic settings in-game. Below is an example of the configuration menu:

You can also check to see if you can hear your mic is working by selecting the "Test Microphone" option on the panel (expect echoes if you don't have earphones!)

If it works, go ahead and test it in-game.  Make sure you have your voice key correctly bound by checking Options > Keyboard > Use voice communication.

If it isn't working in-game, then the issue is probably that the mic input is being switched when you launch the game. To solve that issue, please view the Microphone input switches when launching a game article and use the launch options there.

One last thing to keep in mind is that the Server can control if your mic is allowed to work at all, as well as what codec and sound quality is used. If you have everything configured properly and your mic still doesn't seem to work in-game, always try several different servers to make sure it isn't just a Server issue.

Note: Your microphone will not work while you are in Spectator mode.


Close down conflicting applications

Programs such as TeamSpeak, Skype, Ventrilo and others can sometimes "steal" the mic input away from the game. We recommend closing these programs while playing games on Steam to ensure that the game has full access to your microphone.

Steam Support can not assist you with troubleshooting microphone issues if you insist on running third party mic software while trying to use your mic in the game.


Bad Voice Quality

Bad voice quality can stem from a few different causes. Below are some examples of situations where the quality is affecting the voice chat in-game:



Normally feedback will occur if you have your speakers cranked while using the mic. It is recommended that you use a headset with earphones so that your communication is clear to other players. Certain low-grade microphones are omni-directional, meaning they will pick up sounds from all directions - including your stereo/surround speakers. Turn your audio devices down and see if your voice quality improves.


Low Volume

Certain microphones need a boost. This can be configured by checking the Windows mic settings. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button and then select Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel, select Sound and Audio Devices
  2. Click the Voice tab
  3. Under "Voice Recording", make sure the "Default device" is set to your sound card's INPUT
  4. Click Volume
  5. Make sure the "Mic Volume" meter is turned up and that "Select" is checked underneath the volume slider. Adjust the volume level so that it is somewhere in the range of 50-85% volume.
  6. If the option is available, click Advanced underneath the volume slider
  7. Check the box that says +20db mic boost. This will add a boost to the mic volume and may solve your volume issue



Many times bad voice quality is due to a faulty cable or a bad connection. Check the connection of your mic to your PC. If the connection is loose, it may be the reason why your voice quality is not clear. If you experience the same issue in other applications, you may want to consider getting a different mic to test with. Inexpensive, low-grade mics have often times been shunned on quality to keep the price low.

Also, make sure the mic is not too close to your mouth. If it is touching your face or lips as you use it, put it away so that it is about 1" away from your mouth. If there's no windscreen on the mic itself, try moving it even further away.


Further Tweaking

Please follow the Optimizing Multi-player Voice Quality guide for more tweaking.


Problem with Steam?

Contact Steam Support
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