Connect a microphone, music player, or other audio device to your computer


You can connect a microphone, portable music player, or other audio device to your computer by using one of the jacks on the front, back, or side of your computer. These jacks directly connect to your computer's sound card or sound processor.

Most desktop computers have at least one line-in jack to connect a music player or other audio device and one line-out jack to connect speakers. These jacks typically appear on the back of a desktop computer. Many desktop computers also have a microphone jack, which is often on the front of the computer.

Most laptops don't have line-in or line-out jacks, but usually have microphone and headphone jacks located on the front or side of the laptop.

Picture of microphone jack, line-in jack, and line-out jack
Microphone, line-in, and line-out jacks on a typical desktop computer

If you don't hear any sounds coming from an audio device you've plugged in to one of the jacks on your computer, check to make sure the jack is not muted. To do so, follow the instructions below.

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To connect a music player or other audio device to your desktop computer

After you've plugged a music player or other audio device into the line-in jack and turned the device on, follow these steps:

  1. Open Sound by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type sound, and then click Sound.

  2. Click the Recording tab, click Line In, and then click Properties.

  3. Click the Levels tab and make sure the Mute button looks like this Picture of the Mute button turned off. If the button looks like this Picture of the Mute button turned on, click it to turn on sound for this connection, and then click Apply.
  4. Click the Listen tab, click the Listen to this device check box, and then click OK.

Notes

  • If you don't hear anything, make sure the volume is turned up on the device.

  • You can also change the line-in volume on the Levels tab. Select the slider under Line In, drag it right or left to increase or decrease the volume of your audio device, and then click OK.

To connect a music player or other audio device to your laptop

If your laptop has a line-in jack, follow the instructions above for connecting a music player to a desktop computer. But to connect a music player or other audio device to most laptops, you'll have to plug it into a microphone jack. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Open Sound by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type sound, and then click Sound.

  2. Click the Recording tab, click Microphone, and then click Properties.

  3. Click the Listen tab, click the Listen to this device check box, and then click Apply.

  4. Click the Levels tab and make sure the Mute button looks like this Picture of the Mute button turned off. If the button looks like this Picture of the Mute button turned on, click it to turn on sound for this connection, and then click Apply.
  5. Play some music or other sounds on your device to test the volume coming through your computer speakers. Select the slider under Microphone, drag it right or left to increase or decrease the volume of your audio device, and then click OK. You might also want to adjust the volume on your device.

    Note

    • If you hear noise coming out of your speakers, try reducing the volume on both the music player and in the Levels tab. The microphone jack is designed to receive sound from a microphone, which is different than sound coming from a music player.

To connect a microphone to your computer

After you've plugged a microphone into a microphone jack on your computer and turned it on (if the microphone has an on button), follow these steps.

  1. Open Sound by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type sound, and then click Sound.

  2. Click the Recording tab, click Microphone, and then click Properties.

  3. Click the Levels tab and make sure the Mute button looks like this Picture of the Mute button turned off. If the button looks like this Picture of the Mute button turned on, click it to turn on sound for this connection, and then click Apply.
  4. (Optional) To listen to microphone sounds through your speakers or headphones, click the Listen tab, click the Listen to this device check box, and then click OK.

    Note

    • You can change the line-in volume on the Levels tab. Select the slider under Line In, drag it right or left to increase or decrease the volume of your audio device, and then click OK. Try this if you don't hear any sound coming from your microphone.

    Picture of the Microphone Properties dialog box
    Microphone Properties dialog box showing sound turned on

Note

  • You can also plug most portable music players into a universal serial bus (USB) port on your computer instead of directly into your computer's sound card. If you do this instead of plugging the device into a jack, Windows will try to identify the device and install a driver for it. This allows you to use a music program or other software to sync music to the device. For more information, see Sync music, pictures, contacts, and calendars with a mobile device.



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