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Sound and Microphone Issues

Microphone input switches when launching a game

Other software applications like CD Recording programs can change the wavein input to come from the CD player instead of from the microphone, then when players try and use their microphone in the game it won't work.

To solve this, the HL engine tries to make sure the mixer control settings are set properly when the game runs, but not all soundcards work the same way, especially very high-end sound cards like Audigy 2ZS pro cards.

To prevent the HL engine from trying to set the mic input, players need to set this CVAR in their userconfig.cfg file or in the launch properties of the game.

Add this line in userconfig.cfg:

voice_forcemicrecord 0

or in the launch properties for each game you play:

+voice_forcemicrecord 0

(you don't need both)

This will prevent the engine from attempting to configure the mixer settings.

You might also check and make sure these settings are correct:

voice_enable "1"
sv_voiceenable "1"
voice_scale "0.75"
voice_modenable "1"

By default, these settings will be found under the following directory:
C:\Valve\Steam\SteamApps\<Steam Account Name>\<Game Title>\<Abbreviated Game Title>\cfg\config.cfg

If this file does not exist you may create it by creating a new Notepad document in the \cfg\ folder, entering the suggested settings, and renaming the file to "config.cfg".

 

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Sounds do not play or play on only one speaker

Disable Onboard Sound Card

If you have installed a sound card on a system which has an onboard sound card built in to the motherboard you will need to uninstall the onboard sound card drivers and disable the onboard sound card to ensure it does not interfere with sound playback.

Remove Onboard sound card drivers and disable device
  1. Go to the Start button and select Settings then Control Panel
  2. Double-click the System icon
  3. Select the Hardware tab
  4. Click the Device Manager button
  5. Browse to the Sound, video and game controllers node and double-click your onboard sound card's icon (i.e. Intel(r) 82801BA/BAM AC'97 Audio Controller)
  6. Switch to the Driver in the Properties window
  7. Click the Uninstall button and then OK to uninstall your onboard sound card's drivers
  8. Switch back to the General tab
  9. Under the Device usage: drop-down select Do not use this device (disable) and click OK

 

Update Sound Card Drivers

Please see the link below for instructions to determine your hardware model and current driver versions, and update your sound card drivers:

 

Updating Drivers

Updating Drivers

 

Remove USB sound devices

If sound issues persist after you have disabled your onboard sound card and updated your sound card drivers, please check your system for any USB-enabled audio devices which may be causing interference. (This includes any USB headphones, microphones, or other audio playback or recording devices)

 

Vista and Windows 7 Users

  • Launch the game and type the following into your console: snd_legacy_surround 1.
  • Check the Windows Volume Mixer to ensure that the individual game has not been muted. If your Volume Mixer is not display in the System Tray, right-click the Taskbar, click Properties, and ensure that the Volume checkbox is marked.

 

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Surround Sound does not Function in Source Games

Source games rely on the operating system to identify the audio device for them. If your surround setup is not properly configured in Windows or is configured through a proprietary control panel, it may not be properly recognized by Source games.

  • Ensure that your audio device is setup appropriately in your Windows Control Panel.

  • Launch the game and adjust your settings in the Options > Audio menu.

If the issue persists, close any proprietary audio control applications and repeat the process.

You can also use one of the following launch options to test the issue:

+snd_legacy_surround 1

+snd_digital_surround 1

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Troubleshooting Microphone Problems

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.

 

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.

 

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:

 

Feedback/Echoing

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

 

Crackling/Distortion

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.

 

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