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Thread: Why do microphones (or why does software) provide a mute switch?

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    Triple Platinum Member wumply's Avatar
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    Why do microphones (or why does software) provide a mute switch?

    Does this question belong here?

    I've never understood why. Well, I did learn once that muting prevents howl if a mic and a speaker get rather close together. [I]Is[/U] that the reason? The only reason?

    Also I do not understand this. If mute basically means to silence, why am I able to record my voice in Dragon Naturally Speaking for example or in Windows Sound Recorder--with the mute box under 'Microphone' checked in XP's Play Control?
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    Hardware guy Super Moderator FastGame's Avatar
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    Why do microphones (or why does software) provide a mute switch?
    Ok, if you're talking to your mom or sunday school teacher, or little kids and you spill something in your lap you can hit mute and they won't hear you say some cuss word

    Also I do not understand this. If mute basically means to silence, why am I able to record my voice in Dragon Naturally Speaking for example or in Windows Sound Recorder--with the mute box under 'Microphone' checked in XP's Play Control?
    Maybe XP play control isn't what controls your sound card, do you have sound card with drivers and its own mixer ?

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    Triple Platinum Member wumply's Avatar
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    Re your first response, a mute button in Windows isn't much good (no time to get to it before you swear), and my cheap mic hasn't a mute switch on it. Oh well, I could buy a better mic with a switch on it--not that I'd need it...I live alone.

    Re your 2nd. response: If I have a mute switch on so my mic won't pick up what I say, then should I be able to record in Windows Recorder with the mute button...(Play Control > Microphone > mute checkbox) checked? For I sure can do that!

    Now, I have the ATI Radeon 9559 AGP soundcard - but I don't know if it IS controlling my dictation into Dragon or not. Or if it has etaken over from XP. I just assumed XP was doing that because of the Windows Play Control. I don't even know if it HAS a mute button. It works.

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    Precision Processor Super Moderator egghead's Avatar
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    window mixer has two functions.

    one is known as the audio mixer and the second is known as the record mixer (input router)

    You can choose to mute various inputs that are routed to your speakers using the windows mixer.

    You can choose to select which inputs your software uses to record sound by selecting the record mixes.

    Simply muting windows mixer does not prevent other programs or messenger contacts from listening to your mic. You must choose an input that is not your microphone to be sure that sound is not being recorded unintentionally.

    Click on the speaker icon in systray to open the windows mixer. Click on the options menu and choose proprties to display your current mixer. In this menu you can choose the mixer for recording to select the actually recording mixer. These settings affect the input and routing of your sound device.

    Good info found here
    http://media.virtuosi.fi/users/pdonner/WinMixer.htm

    Food for thought? Read this to be shocked
    Last edited by egghead; September 5th, 2006 at 05:08 AM.
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  5. #5
    Junior Member Spoonman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wumply View Post
    Does this question belong here?

    I've never understood why. Well, I did learn once that muting prevents howl if a mic and a speaker get rather close together. [I]Is[/U] that the reason? The only reason?

    Also I do not understand this. If mute basically means to silence, why am I able to record my voice in Dragon Naturally Speaking for example or in Windows Sound Recorder--with the mute box under 'Microphone' checked in XP's Play Control?
    I don't know about software, but I was wondering about that on professional cordless microphones. I've had a chance to sing on a stage a couple of times actually and I've been given various cordless mics over time, and most of them had a mute button as well as an on/off switch. I guess this is done so that you don't always flip the switch as it may produce an audible click and it would be transmitted to loudspeakers. Also it might be provided because once a mic is tuned on a certain frequency and connected to the base, it's not good to turn the signal off. You can just have it transmit silence, but stay online.
    "Oh, sorry, I was taking life seriously!" - Bill Hicks

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    Triple Platinum Member wumply's Avatar
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    Egghead. Hey, this is all pretty complex to me--I read your mixer article...so is mixing combining inputs from different sources into 1 output? And that output can be a recording on a CD but the mix could also just be sent to a system of speakers? Like a recording studio can add different effects, different instruments, vary the volume of each and be quite creative. Except that the Windows mixer doesn't have all the instruments! Have I got the basic concept of mixing...or does it need expansion?

    All I want to do is play CDs over my speakers or my earphones, be able to record into Dragon Naturally Speaking and maybe record a short message into a little thing in my email program that lets me record a message and attach the audio file to an email and send it off. And hell, I hardly ever do that.

    I guess a mixer isn't of much use to me--I just have it because I have Windows.

    As I said in my original post re my XP mixer I have the checkbox called 'mute' (under the column headed 'microphone') checked. It's just been checked for months yet my speakers, headphones and dictation mic all work just fine. So just what am I accomplishing by having this checkbox checked--i.e. muting? The only mic I use is on my headset so since I can record, what is being muted? And does muting prevent screeching if a mic and speaker get close together?
    Last edited by wumply; September 5th, 2006 at 21:28 PM. Reason: 'Cause I forgot to underline.

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    Junior Member Grim's Avatar
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    EggHead explained it in just the right amount of detail, but since you're not quite understanding, I'll try to put it simply.

    When you mute in windows, you may not necessarily mute your MICROPHONE, but an input channel (quite possibly the one that you're hearing live).
    In other words, , when you Mute in some cases, you are just turning of what YOU hear from the mic, not the mic itself, the Computer is still listening
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    Nobody knows I'm a dog. TZ Veteran petard's Avatar
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    Sometimes this forum needs a mute button.

    Many thanks to egghead for the cool .sig

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    Triple Platinum Member wumply's Avatar
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    Thanks, Grim. I still have some questions but I'm thinking there's enough detail I need to have in my head to start to understand all I want to understand. In which case, it seems practical to track down some who could explain it in person. But you've added a bit to that knowledge.

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