Trouble with your microphone?

Recording Level Monitor:

Checking your output sound is easy as you can just play any Mp3 file etc. & hear it playing, but you might also want to check recording from a microphone (known bug) or some other external source. One of the easiest way’s to do this is to use the Recording Level Monitor.

This handy little programme is installed by default in Ubuntu, but is normally hidden on Gnomes Applications menu.

Unhide it by doing the following..

Navigate to Applications/Accessories/Alacarte menu editor in the top Gnome panel, click on Sound & Video within the newly opened programme (left hand pane of window), then make sure that recording level monitor option (in the right hand pane) has a tick in the box next to it.

Once that’s done close the Alacarte programme, as you won’t be needing it any more & start the recording level monitor from the menu. Leave it running until you’ve finished testing the sound.


Sound Settings:

Double click the speaker icon (on the top Gnome panel) to start the volume control application.

Open the Preferences option from the Edit menu.

Enable (by placing a tick next to them) the following options..





PC Speaker


Input Source

Everything else can be left disabled.

Click the close button to save the changes.


Click on the Capture tab that should now have appeared within the volume control application & move the volume slider to about a third of the way up.

Next click on the Options tab that has been added & make sure that the first Input Source is set to Mic & the second one is set to CD.

Don’t close down the volume control application just yet, as you first need to check that the microphone is working ok.

Plug in your microphone, start up the Recording Level Monitor & start chatting. You should see the bars on the Recording Level Monitor lighting up, as you talk. If it’s not working, then this is due to a bug in Ubuntu (already reported it to the devs) & it will take an extra step to get your microphone working..

Go back to your volume control application, click on the Options tab, change Mic to front Mic & then change it back again straight away.

Check your microphone again now, as it should work fine.

Unfortunately you will probably have to do this every time you turn on/restart your computer, or resume from suspend/hibernate.

This will be fixed soon I hope.

22 thoughts on “Trouble with your microphone?

  1. Thank you so much,
    I spent half the day reading forums, tweaking settings and pulling my hair out. Just found this guide and now the last little piece of my ubuntu puzzle has fallen into place.

  2. When I open preferences in volume manager I only have three boxes – Master PCm and Capture. Is there something I need to do to show these other boxes?

  3. Whit KDE on Acer Aspire i needed to use the mixer (Kmix) as root whit ‘sudo’ command.
    Thank you a lot, i am posting this link on every forum because there is a lot of threads about the same problem.

  4. Thanks for the info Frederic.
    I’m not too sure yet if it will help us out, but it’s handy info to have anyway & could help someone else later on πŸ™‚

  5. Hy,

    I have a sony-vaio VGN-NR11Z with vista on in and when I run sype,try to talk and doesn’t work.
    So as an intermediate solution I attached and external mic an now is working. I think isn’t normal to work like this taking into account fact that at the very begging it worked.

    Can you give me an advice? When I see movies on BS player works..

    thank you in advance,

  6. Wow. Thank you… Like many others up there ^ I spent like two days scrounging around looking for some driver package I missed, only to discover that the answer was hiding in the Ubuntu distro all along. I am very near 100% compatibility with my Sony VAIO CR…

    You are my hero.

  7. hi trip!
    same problem on my vgn cr 420 but i couldn’t get it fixed that way
    the options that i have on the preferences window are :
    Capture 1
    Capture 2
    ATAPI Mic
    Input source
    Input source
    Input source
    (three times input source)

    which ones do you think i should enable?

  8. Pingback: Calin Plesa » Ubuntu / Vista dual boot installation on a Sony VGN-FZ

  9. Sony VAIO VGN-CR510E/P
    OK, u shouldn’t judge the entire laptop based on customer service. I mean come on, this laptop was a great investment. I had two compaq and an toshiba and this one beats them all. I have had no problems yet, but I just got this two weeks ago from best buy..great buy, highly recommended. The only problem is the speakers are a bit low, but I always buy external speakers so it doesn’t bother me at all. I love my laptop and soo many compliments..

  10. Hi!

    I have a sony vaio VPCCW1S1E everything works fine except the built-in mic. I am using kubuntu 9.10 on it. I have tried the above with no luck. However I have noticed two strange things:
    1. When I try to record a sound with sound recorder the level bar seems alive except it only makes low and small vibrations.
    2. When I run Kmix with the sudo command from terminal and I change some of the settings the changes don’t seem to have any effect on when I start Kmix from the desktop bar and vice versa.

    Any clues or helps are much appreciated.


  11. Hi All. I just came up with a method of getting internal Mic working on a lot of laptops with ubuntu. Goto Synaptics Package manager, search alsa, scrool down to find linux-backports-modules-alsa-karmic-generic” find the newest version and click to mark for installation. Click apply, then restart. Now go to terminal and type, alsamixer, when it opens hit f4 to bring up the input menu, using the right arrow key, move the highlight selector over to , this is where we select what sound input is active, hit the up arrow to change selection from Front Mi – to Int Mic. Now Skype and all other audio apps work. Hope this helps.

  12. Thomas, thanks!!!!! This worked for me perfectly. The only thing with me is that when i went into synaptics Package manager, i couldn’t find ‘linux-backports-modules-alsa-karmic-generic’ so I used ‘linux-backports-modules-alsa-lucid-generic’. Additionally, in alsamixer, i couldnt find a int mic selection, but turning ‘capture’ up worked. Prior to this, my sound output was working fine, the only problem was the built in mic would record static (and me very, very faintly).

    Vaio VGN-NW265F
    Ubuntu 10.04
    Alsamixer v1.0.22
    Chip: Intel G45 DEVCTG


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