Audio in in Inspiron 15z (and probably other recent Dell laptops models)

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Audio in in Inspiron 15z (and probably other recent Dell laptops models)

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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.

All Replies
  • 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:

    www.dell.com/.../inspiron-15z-5523

    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

  • I can not get the IDT driver to install.  I am about to throw the whole computer against the wall.  Can't type on it because the touchpad sends the cursor all over the place and can't fix it no matter what I do.  The IDT driver says it can't be installed because it's not a supported driver.  I have an Inspirion 15z 5523.  Like I said, about to throw it against the wall because I have a deadline to get a video done and this is insane.  Now I have no audio at all.

  • Hello Catsanctuary.  You started 2 other threads about a week ago. Dell_Hema replied to one of them and I replied to the other. You have not yet replied back to either of us.

    Dell_Hema asked you to supply the version of Windows the laptop is running. That is an important piece of information that I would like to have also.

    catsanctuary
    I have a deadline to get a video done and this is insane.

    It might be too late now but an easy workaround would have been to get an inexpensive usb audio jack. That would solve 2 potential problems:

    1. As I said in your earlier thread, the lavalier mic you have now might be incompatible with the combo jack on the Inspiron 15z 5523. If the lavalier mic has a typical TRS plug it would be compatible with a usb jack.

    2. If your  mic won't work with the laptop's jack because of an issue with the IDT audio driver, the usb jack uses the Windows native usb audio driver and like all usb audio devices it bypasses the laptop's IDT audio hardware and driver. You can use the usb device for recording but still have the laptop use the laptop's built-in speakers for playback if you wish, or use the usb device's headphone jack for playback.

    The drawback is that these devices are not commonly found in stores and usually have to be ordered from an e-tailer like Amazon, however next day shipping should be available.

    The audio quality of one of these inexpensive devices might be less than the that of the laptop's integrated audio but it might be good enough to get you through your current project and allow you to sort out the laptop's audio problems later. If it becomes necessary to perform a system recovery you want to wait until there is no time pressure on you. (If cost is not a factor you can get a usb device that has audio superior to that of the integrated audio.)

    catsanctuary
    The IDT driver says it can't be installed because it's not a supported driver.

    What is your operating system? Also verify that your laptop is a 15z 5523 and not an Inspiron 15z 1570 which has Realtek audio, or an XPS 15z.

    catsanctuary
    Can't type on it because the touchpad sends the cursor all over the place and can't fix it no matter what I do.

    Touchpad issues are outside of my area but here is what has worked for me. I have a Latitude E5420 with a "pointstick", aka trackstick or nub. It started giving me problems when I would brush over it while typing and was able to turn it off by going the Control Panel>Dell Touchpad, which has settings for the touchpad, touchstick and mouse. If your laptop has a similar control perhaps you can just turn off the touchpad and use a mouse.

    A little program I have used in the past for a similar issue is called TouchFreeze. It turns off the touchpad while typing.

    On an old Inspiron I had the keyboard finally gave out after years of use and presented all kinds of typing problems. I replaced the keyboard on that machine and that fixed it.

    catsanctuary
    Now I have no audio at all.

    If you want to get back to the function you had before trying to install the IDT audio driver, try using Windows System Restore (Click the start button then type system restore into the Windows search box). If you have a Restore Point dated earlier than when you attempted the installation then it can probably undo the failed installation.

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member

  • I have replied to those threads and received no response by the way.  These forums are impossible to use because after the thread is posted it disappears and I have to go searching for it again so if I started redundant threads excuse me but apparently good customer service is a thing of the past, especially where computers are concerned.  I appreciate assistance but your condescending comments are unacceptable.

    I provided a photo of the jack that was sold to me at Radio Shack because the cable recommended apparently does not exist.  If there is such a thing I need to know where to purchase it as well as where to purchase the above jack.  It does not help to have solutions suggested with no way to procure them.  The driver you are suggesting does not install.  The error message says the hardware is incompatible.  As far as the touchpad, the dell does not allow for turning off the touchpad.  I would appreciate suggestions that are applicable and workable. 

  • Jimco. the suggestions you have provided are not workable.  I have replied to the two other threads with no response so please refrain from providing further information unless you have solid answers.  The driver you recommended does not install-it is not compatible.  I supplied my system information in its entirety in those other threads.  So far I have been told to buy a cable that does not exist and a jack that does not exist.  The jack I bought that plugged into the headphone/microphone port does not work and there is no USB jack as the one pictured sold in any store near me.  I would order it from Amazon if only you had supplied a link or perhaps the name of the jack.   Same with the cable.  I can't go into a store and say I am looking for a "cable".  Using computer lingo and being condescending might make you feel smart but I have no idea what a TRS plug is nor do I care.  I need solutions that are real and workable.  BTW, my service tag is C8VH2X1 as stated in the other two threads.  I will no longer be checking this thread as no workable answers are being provided.

  • catsanctuary
    please refrain from providing further information

    Okay!

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member

  • Here is my response for the eyes of anyone else who might come upon this thread and wonder what this was all about.

    catsanctuary
    Jimco. the suggestions you have provided are not workable.

    As said, they were just suggestions. Catsanctuary said that that his/her laptop was either an Inspiron 15z 5523 or a 15R 5521, did not tell me which operating system it had, and gave no details about the mic he/she is trying to use other than to say it is 'lavalier". Without good facts I thought I was doing a good job just to provide suggestions.

    catsanctuary
     I have replied to the two other threads with no response

    He/she did not put a reply in either of those threads until last night, so of course no response.

    catsanctuary
    so please refrain from providing further information unless you have solid answers.

    Solid answers. The way this works is that I try to work with people to help them diagnose the problem. To do that one has to try things that might not solve the problem. The purpose of this method is to narrow down the problem area until one can identify it. It is not a perfect method but in most cases there are no silver bullet type of solutions.

    catsanctuary
    The driver you recommended does not install-it is not compatible.

    I did not recommend a driver. I said to install the audio for his/her operating system. He/she never responded to my requests about the operating system, and the laptop model was in doubt too.

    catsanctuary
    So far I have been told to buy a cable that does not exist

    At no time did I tell him/her to buy a cable. I link him/her to the Headphone Jack FAQ "to see pictures of the kind of plug that works with a combo jack.". The FAQ mentions 2 brands of adapter cable that have worked for some people and not for others. I did not suggest that he/she get one.

    catsanctuary
    The jack I bought that plugged into the headphone/microphone port does not work and there is no USB jack as the one pictured sold in any store near me.

    I clearly said that local stores would not have the usb audio jack and would have to be bought from an e-tailer like Amazon.

    catsanctuary
    I would order it from Amazon if only you had supplied a link or perhaps the name of the jack.

    I did not put in a link to a particular usb audio jack because I do not know his/her price range. I assumed that he/she would google usb audio jack or just go to Amazon and put usb audio jack into the search box there.

    In this matter and all these other issues, it is hard to see what has gotten catsanctuary so mad at me. I put in a lot of time and effort on his/her behalf.

    catsanctuary
    Same with the cable.  I can't go into a store and say I am looking for a "cable".

    Again, I did not tell him/her to get a cable.

    catsanctuary
    Using computer lingo and being condescending might make you feel smart but I have no idea what a TRS plug is nor do I care.

    The Headphone Jack FAQ explains the difference between a TRS plug and a TRRS plug and has pictures so one can easily see the difference. Catsanctuary might not care, but the difference between the 2 types of plug might be the reason his/her mic won't work. I carefully explained all this last week.

    The choice of terminology is tricky. If I dumb down everything then the more advanced posters would think I was being condescending. I try my best to pick the middle ground but as I say it is tricky. If I say something that someone does not understand then they should ask for clarification. There has to be a smooth flow of communication back and forth.

    catsanctuary
    I need solutions that are real and workable.

    My best guess about the mic is that it has an incompatible plug. There is nothing I can do to change that. I suggested getting a usb audio jack and have it shipped overnight if time is an issue. That seems pretty workable under the circumstances.

    catsanctuary
    I will no longer be checking this thread as no workable answers are being provided.

    The laptop is a donated unit and giving conflicting information about which model it is. No telling what the previous owner did to it. It could be that catsanctuary is eventually going to have to perform a system recovery (restore the laptop back to the original factory configuration) but I'm pretty sure that he/she would consider that daunting task to be unworkable too.

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member

  • catsanctuary
    As far as the touchpad, the dell does not allow for turning off the touchpad.  I would appreciate suggestions that are applicable and workable. 

    I clearly said "Touchpad issues are outside of my area but here is what has worked for me."

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member

  • Really Jim, how old do you feel right now?  By the way, I already did a system recovery prior to posting here. Good luck getting a life.

  • catsanctuary
    I already did a system recovery prior to posting here.

    Well thanks for finally sharing that.

    Don't confuse performing a system recovery with using Windows System Restore, but  If you did actually perform a system recovery then any problems with  the audio software were fixed. No need to install an audio driver after the recovery. Any audio problems you encountered after the recovery were in the hardware -- either hardware failure or incompatibility.between your device and the laptop's hardware.

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member