I've just bought a new Inspiron 15z. The lack of correct information about the audio sub-system is appalling, both on the support site and amongst Dell staff in the call centres for tech. support.
Here's a few tips:
1) You'll need the latest driver for the IDT audio system. It appeared on the Dell site very recently.
2) With that installed, you will be able to use the IDT applet via the control panel (which gives access to the Maxx audio applet in harmony with sound settings accessed directly via the sound applet in the control panel. Moreover, you do NOT have to disable the Maxx audio applet to make anything work. In other words, with the updated audio driver properly installed you will be able to use the Maxx audio applet to control all sound and anything you do in the Maxx applet will reflext correctly back into the basic sound settings of the system. Phew.
3) That combined headphones / microphone in jack on your computer is NOT a standard stereo jack. It is one of the newer double stereo jacks, the same as you will find in use with most smartphones. If you attempt to plug an ordinary stereo jack into that plug, various strange things will happen, though nothing detrimental). What will happen is that sound settings using either the sound applet of control panel or the Maxx applet will not behave as you would hope. In particular, whether you plug in a headphone jack or a microphone jack you will be told that a headphone as been plugged in. And, no matter what you do, you will not be able to get the microphone belonging to that input to show that a microphone has been plugged in. All of this anomolous behaviour will cease as soon as you insert a standard four-part audio jack AND you will finally get a second microphone showing in the system.
4) In other words, if you are trying to get an external microphone connected, all you have to do is have the latest IDT audio driver AND use a standard 4-part jack to insert your microphone and / or headset.
5) Where do you get the right jack? An obvious solution is simply to pirate your headset/microphone of your smartphone. It is exactly what is needed. Alternatively, you can purchase a cable that has the right 4-channel jack and which splits into two cables, one each for connecting headphone and microphone using a standard 2-channel stereo jack.
If anyone from Dell reads this, please note that there is simply no documentation anywhere for the Inspiron 15z (and I believe other models with this type of jack). Worse, the tech support people in the call centre(s) simply had no knowledge of this. There is also a post from just recently where a knowledgeable Dell support person put someone through incredible hoops trying to get this problem solved when the main issue was to explain what kind of jack is involved.
BTW, once I worked out all of this, I found that the audio in the Inspiron was simply amazing! Especially, listening to music with external earphones and using the Maxx system was astoundingly good. And, you can even have the internal microphone array functioning at the same time as both the stereo mixer and a external microphone or any combination thereof. Nothing needs to be disabled or tweaked, either.
Great news, I was hoping for this! My 15Z has both a headphone and a mic jack on the left side. Are you indicating that the headphone jack is a mic jack as well? Neither of the jacks is labled as a combo jack.
Do you have a link for the drivers you used? I've found all kinds of dell IDT drivers (none on the 15Z support page of course) I tried installing the IDT A02 drivers and the install said that there was no compatible hardware found.
Tim, for reasons known only to Dell, they use the same name for different models. In another thread TonyDuff said his 15z is an Inspiron 5523. According to the Quick Start manual on the Dell site, the 5523 has IDT audio and a single combo jack socket. Next to the jack there is an icon of a headset (headphones + mic) molded into the case. That is the symbol Dell has been using to indicate a combo jack. This is the IDT audio driver on the 5523 drivers & downloads page:
I see that you replied to another thread about the XPS 15z. Maybe you have an XPS 511z. That model has Realtek audio hardware so it can use a Realtek driver or the native Windows audio driver, but not an IDT driver.
There is a lot of name confusion on this forum because people who post don't know the idiotic way that Dell names its laptops and so they don't realize how important it is to use the specific model name. If you don't have an Inspiron 5523 you might want to start a separate thread.
Jim Coates -- senior forum member