Hello everyone!

I have been a reporter for eight years but took a five-year break from it to pursue another career. Well, I'm back! I've since updated my software to Case Catalyst 8 and have a newer laptop, Dell. First depo, I noticed my audio sound was very poor. Almost sounds like someone was covering the mic (which was not the case). I have to keep listening to the audio over and over to figure out some spots. And sometimes, I could barely hear it. So I figured I hadn't used the mic in five years so I need a new one.

I purchased a new one through Martel. Same problem. Audio sound will start off fine, then something throws it off. There's no specific time it will happen. Could happen towards the beginning, middle or end and it will continue through the end of the transcript. Lately, though, it's happening by Page 2. The quality is actually getting worse & worse! Martel was no help. Stenograph was very little help. They suggested a few things but then he said that it may be a problem that nobody may be able to help me out with?? They both basically said "Don't know what to tell ya."

What could be throwing off the recording quality? Could something be running in the background that's interfering with it? I figure, who better to ask than other reporters? I'm in desperate need of correcting this problem. Any suggestions or advice is welcome! Thank you!!!

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Can you do a mic test on your laptop with out using your reporting software? its easy, plug your mic and go to start menu and look for the built in recording software for windows (a very basic software). Record a test for 3-5 minutes and play it back, if it sounds good then you have cleared your laptop and mic and it would clearly be a case catalyst issue.. i would say if thats the case call them back and tell them you have troubled shooted it and the issue is on their end.
obviously if the recording is not clear then it could be either the laptop audio port or the mic it self.. then you have to take that mic and test it on another computer, if the mic works fine then its a laptop port issue.
let me know.
This is where you roughly can find the generic audio recorder.

I had that problem with a microphone with a battery that was too close to the computer. Maybe try moving the mic a little bit away from the computer?
Actually, I have a Blackberry! I'm scoping a job right now and the audio sound is perfect! It's the first job where I had no problems with the audio at all, and it's a long job. However, I have about five other ones where you could barely hear it! So something is going on here. It may be as simple as the positioning of the mic. I will also try turning my Blackberry off. I've tested the sound of the mic and it works great. The battery in it is new. I also have a battery tester and it's still got plenty of life in it. I usually position my mic closer to me on whatever side the witness is sitting and clip it on the realtime cable. I will try numerous things until the problem is fixed. It's been going on for a few months now and it's driving me crazy!! Thanks!
Hello Everyone,

Just wanted to update. I've tried everything to try to correct the problem. I've taken some of the advice on here. I purchased an external sound drive, tried changing the settings numerous times, tried positioning my mic in different locations away from the computer. Unfortunately, none of it is correcting the problem and I'm at my wit's end. Not having reliable audio, I'm having to scope all my stuff and it's taking a toll on me. I'm tempted to purchase a new laptop. But most new laptops offer Windows Vista, and I've had a few friends who don't like it or tell me they also have problems with Vista & Case Catalyst. I'm not sure what to do. I have a feeling that possibly the settings might be off? I'm just a bit baffled because I can play CD's, music, etc and it sound great. No problem there. Then my audio sounds really poor on almost every job. The mic works great. I've tested it out on three separate computers/laptops. I'm wondering if there's something running in the background that's throwing off the audio while it's recording. Any suggestions who I should be calling for help as well? A computer tech? Dell? Stenograph doesn't seem to know what the problem might be. And everyone else I tell about the problem doesn't either, including people with experience on computers. Please help!! Thanks!!
I've had a Dell, and their sound quality is not always the best. There are ways to tweak your system.
1. Right click your speaker icon on the taskbar
2. Click on OPEN VOLUME CONTROLS or ADJUST (it may be named different for yours.
3. Click on OPTIONS menu
4. Make sure ADVANCED MENUS is checked (if not, simply click on it.)
5. Click on PROPERTIES
6. PLAYBACK usually had the dot in front of it. Make sure the lower menu had at least the MASTER VOLUME, WAVE and MICROPHONE CHECKED.
7. Click OK.
8. Adjust your volume for WAVE to a higher level (this is for playback only)
(I also have a MONITOR menu in this section where I can turn on headphones if it is not muted.)
9. Check that MICROPHONE is not muted. (Sometimes if this microphone is on, it will interfere with the MICROPHONE in record...you will have to use both ways and run a test. To not interfere with some things I do, one Dell I had, I needed to mute the mic in the Playback menu.)
10. There is an advanced button under MICROPHONE where you can check (click on) the MICROPHONE BOOST. (These all need to be tested as you go, so have your writer hooked up so you can test each time to see if it's better. It's trial and error - each computer sound card being different.)
11. After clicking on MICROPHONE BOOST, click on CLOSE.
12. Again, Click on OPTIONS (upper left), click on PROPERTIES
13. This time click on RECORDING (sometimes some sound cards use a software that you will need to choose the Mixer Device located on this area, and in order to do that on these systems, you will need to have the microphone on the playback area NOT muted.)
14. I make sure all is check in this area so that I can access it. Make sure your Master volume is not turned down or is not muted here. Use your mouse to slide the level up or down.

Be sure to check and run a test each time you make a change. That way you know what one is best for you. If you keep the mic open on the playback and adjust your wave file up, you can monitor your session with headphones. HOWEVER, a word of caution, if you have the mic unchecked, when you unplugg the headphones, you may get a horrible shreaking. I always just click on my speaker icon and mute it before unplugging. You would need to remember next time to unmute before starting again. I always run thru a check mic before starting another session.

As an alternative, a few Dell users have purchased the external mic dongle that plugs into a USB port to use because of these problems. Anita Paul sells one and so does Martel. You can Google external mic to see what is out there. Sound Professionals has an excellent one. (http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/SP-USB-MULTI-MIC)

It's a dongle that has it's own sound card, bypassing the "onboard" mic. They are not tremendously expensive as some are.

Hope this helps.
Hello Patricia,

This is very helpful! Thank you so much. I will try these things out as well as look into purchasing a USB port external mic dongle. I purchased some USB sound enhancer but I believe I purchased the wrong thing. Thanks & hope you've had a great 4th of July weekend!!
Try the USB mic from Sound Professionals. Worth every penny. It works great.
I don't know that this is related to your problem, Ann, but it's a problem I was having and, thankfully, just resolved, but this seemed like a good place to share the info in case it can help anyone else.

I was hearing a lot of what I call "feedback noise" (probably actually called "electromagnetic interference" or "EMI") when I listened to my audio, particularly loud w/ a headset. Long story short, problem resolved by checking "mute" for the microphone as described by Patricia above.

Thanks, Patricia, for taking the time to post such a detailed explanation. I'm going to print it out for future reference in the event it's ever needed (please, no!). Thanks everyone for sharing their knowledge. It's often appreciated by more folks than you know!

My brother told me it might be feedback as well, but I don't hear anything at all when I play back the audio. The only time I heard feedback is when I tested out my mic through the control panel, audio devices, etc, about two weeks ago. So I tried muting my speakers but not the mic. Didn't resolve the problem. I've tried positioning the mic in several different places, including close to my feet just to check it out and keep it as far away as possible from the speakers. However, same problem.

Absolutely nothing I've tried works. I've had my husband and brother, both who know quite a bit about computers, play with the laptop, and they can't seem to pinpoint the problem. It's a very strange problem. The mic works great. I test it out through sound control via my laptop, works great. First few pages while recording works well. Then all of a sudden, it's like someone suddenly lowered the volume and you can barely hear the speakers talking, especially the ones further away from the mic. The sound comes in and out like in waves.

I spoke to a Stenograph trainer today and he was very helpful and thorough. We spent quite a while on the phone. He couldn't figure it out either but he said the outlet where I plug in my mic may be faulty and also said that Dell does not have the best sound card. I've been given numerous suggestions by many people including to reinstall the sound card and other things. I haven't tried all of them. But the ones I've tried have made no difference.

I was really tempted to purchase a new laptop but I would rather not. Mine works fine otherwise. So rather than purchase a new laptop, he also suggested I purchase Anita Paul's USB mic which has its own sound card and built-in mic and that will bypass the sound card altogether, so I just purchased it earlier today. I'm anxious to try it out in hopes that this will solve my three-month problem!!!

In the meantime, I will re-read Patricia's post and follow those suggestions for tomorrow's depo. I just can't wait to get this resolved! It takes me twice as long to get through transcripts with this problem.

And thanks, everyone! Everyone here is very helpful. I've learned a lot from you guys. Again, thanks, and I will update you on when I get my USB mic in the mail and let you all know how that works.
I feel your pain (as does my fiance') as I was on the verge of ordering a new computer, too. I purchased the Andrea, which now sits collecting dust right next to the Martel volume booster I purchased and the mono-to-stereo adaptors and... well, you get the point.

One thing that comes to mind -- and I don't even know if you have this feature anywhere -- is a volume equalizer setting or some setting that levels the audio sound such that a loud cough or something like that doesn't knock your headphones off ;-). Anyway, just a thought.

Good luck to you, and please do keep us posted!! If you decide you want to try the Andrea, let me know, and you can try mine before purchasing something else you might not need. You can reach me directly at kdudaccr@gmail.com.

Kathy, I was also suggested the Andrea by a friend, but the Andrea is simply an audio enhancer. I actually purchased a similar device at Fry's Electronics about a week ago and that actually made it worse, believe it or not!! What I ordered today is an actual external sound card with built-in mic and it's from Sound Professionals which I'm hearing really good things about. It does not use the laptop's internal sound card. I really hope this works, I'm so desperate!!

Stenograph trainer also said that my settings may be too high and sensitive to something as simple as a door closing. About a week ago, I was at a depo & audio was working great until an attorney walked in, then the audio was thrown off for the entire depo. I just absolutely never know when, how or why the sound gets thrown off. It happens throughout different times in the transcript. Sometimes by Pg. 2, sometimes Pg. 10. I've only taken two depos where the audio worked throughout the entire depo without any problems, including a 130-page depo about a month ago. I just thought that was incredibly strange. And the quality of the sound varies. Sometimes you can kind of hear the audio and sometimes, you can barely make any of the words out.

I too have purchased a number of products in order to attempt to correct this problem. I might as well have just purchased a new laptop by now...lol! Anyway, all I want is to get this problem resolved, whatever it takes. Thanks so much for your help and offering the Andrea device. I will take you up on that if this other USB doesn't work. Thank you!!


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