Using line-in on a combo headphone/microphone jack

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Using line-in on a combo headphone/microphone jack

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Hey folks.

Sorry if I'm posting in the wrong section but I'm finding the Dell website a bit hard to navigate and wrap my head around.

Anyway, my question:

I have an Inspiron 13z, the N311z version. It has a combo audio jack, that is, headphone and microphone. The problem is, I don't know how to switch it to line-in. I have a suspicion that it is automatic and the computer tries to detect whether the line is a microphone or headphones, but I'm looking to run something line-in: that is, it isn't a microphone per se. I've looked around the audio options and the Dell support centre isn't particularly helping me find any answers.

Any input would be appreciated. 

Verified Answer
  • gregorywan

    I looked through my previous post and I suppose it was a little vague.

    I have a single jack. It is advertised as combo headphone/microphone, although I am not sure whether that is a new type of jack I haven't heard of, or that it can be switched between audio in and audio out (My guess).

    You weren't vague. But I thought in regards to that kind of combo jack, that it is not for either a mic or headphones, but for both -- the kind of headset with an in-line mic, that has a 4 segment plug rather than the normal 3 segment kind.

    I had just assumed that was what the combo jack was for but I could be entirely wrong in that assumption. If I am right then you would probably need an adapter of some kind to get a normal plug to work with it.

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member


All Replies
  • gregorywan
    I'm finding the Dell website a bit hard to navigate and wrap my head around.

    You're not kidding. We used to have a normal discussion board but a few years ago they started this experiment. I don't know if this is the worst forum on the internet but I have never seen another laid out like this.

    I don't know the specific answer to your question. There are not many of the laptops with the combo jack. You probably need some kind of adapter to convert your cable's plug to one that will work in a combo jack.

    On models with normal jacks -- one for headphones and one for mic/line-in --  the laptop doesn't try to guess your purpose. Instead it pops up a dialog box where you select whether you mean to use the line-in or mic configuration. But in your case it has to guess between line-in, headphones, or mic. 

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member


  • Thanks for your input Jim.

    I looked through my previous post and I suppose it was a little vague.

    I have a single jack. It is advertised as combo headphone/microphone, although I am not sure whether that is a new type of jack I haven't heard of, or that it can be switched between audio in and audio out (My guess).

    Assuming it can be switched, I haven't found any way to switch it to audio in. It is always audio out.

    My computer doesn't have any second sound recording device shown underneath the onboard mic (Which all other laptops I owned did) suggesting that audio in was never supported.

    The closest example to how  I thought it would work is an old XPS13 I used a long time ago. It had 3 jacks, one mic, and two headphone jacks, but to support 5.1, these jacks could be switched around in an audio control panel program that was bundled with the computer.

    Hence, the mic input, for example, could be switched into a rear speaker output and such.

    I've checked the audio program that came bundled with this computer but I have absolutely no option to change it. There is a "jack information" tab but all it displays is my jack, a headphone icon above it, and it lights up when I plug something in, but no other options. Incredibly useless.

    I'm disappointed, but not too fussed, if it turns out to be impossible; but I'm concerned that this is straight up false advertising if Dell lists it as an input jack when it has no capacity to do so.

  • Sorry, a quick PS:

    gregorywan

    My computer doesn't have any second sound recording device shown underneath the onboard mic (Which all other laptops I owned did) suggesting that audio in was never supported.



     I'm referring to the recording devices listed in the sound controls via the Windows control panel.

  • gregorywan

    I looked through my previous post and I suppose it was a little vague.

    I have a single jack. It is advertised as combo headphone/microphone, although I am not sure whether that is a new type of jack I haven't heard of, or that it can be switched between audio in and audio out (My guess).

    You weren't vague. But I thought in regards to that kind of combo jack, that it is not for either a mic or headphones, but for both -- the kind of headset with an in-line mic, that has a 4 segment plug rather than the normal 3 segment kind.

    I had just assumed that was what the combo jack was for but I could be entirely wrong in that assumption. If I am right then you would probably need an adapter of some kind to get a normal plug to work with it.

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member


  • Ah, yeah, I'm familiar with those.

    I had thought it was something like that, but was never clear on it.

    Not sure if this is the correct thing to do but I'll be marking this thread answered.

    I appreciate all your help Jim. Wish you a great new year.

  • Thanks, I hope you have a great year too.

    I am still curious this morning so I did some googling and found an interesting thread on the Lenovo forum.

    forums.lenovo.com/.../217613

    They discuss using adapters for their combo port and provide some links:

    www.theheadsetbuddy.com/pc-computer-headset-to-3-5mm-smartphone-adapter

    www.everbatim.net/.../headphone-microphone-jack-splitter.html

    www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=sr_1_1

    The bad news is that on the Lenovo models they discussed, the mic portion of the combo jack is only mono. One person wrote: "In my T410 the 4-pin Audio pinning is (counted from Tip): left ear - right ear - Gnd - Mic "

    If the Dell combo jack is similar then you cannot record line-in even with an adapter. You would need an external audio interface. Looks like the combo jack is a throwback to the situation of 6 or 7 years ago when the only input jack on most of the Dell laptops was a mono mic jack.

    I have been told not to be negative on this forum, but it is just a fact that Dell provides almost no documentation on the audio functions of the laptops -- either the hardware or the software. People need to know how these gadgets work, and it would be best to have the information before the purchase so that folks can make a choice based on their needs. Dell should be providing both specific technical specs such as jack impedances and such, and also general instructions on how to use the audio. For example the manuals should have screen shots of all of the tabs of the Sound properties with a full explanation of the functions of every control and option.  One should not have to learn these things by trial & error or by going to Lenovo's website.

    Jim Coates -- senior forum member


  • Agreed. I think I'm generally quite comfortable working with computers and I can work most issues out myself, but this issue was not so much an issue of "fixing a problem" as it was "figuring out something that should be easy" with cryptic resources, both online and in the documentation that came with the computer.

    Also agreed more about the specifications part. I remember when I bought this laptop I had to actually contact Dell to solidly verify it even had an onboard mic, it wasn't listed. I know it's the basline standard for laptops, but still, clarity can't hurt.

    It's one thing to assume that the end user knows their way around a computer. That's an acceptable assumption, though you might alienate some customers. It's another thing to leave people to figure out their own hardware: whether a casual user or an enthusiast, some things should just put out there.

    Having said that, I don't really have any grievances with Dell. Just throwing ideals out there.

    You're not alone in your ideas though, Jim.

  • microsoft has a audio interface on your computer to record you must tune it off after you record you have to tune it back on to hear your audio again.

  • the combo jack dose work all the types but microsoft program only let you use the onboard mic to record  I'm working on another way it works sometime it's a real pain right now.

  • I have the same problem. Posted it here:

    en.community.dell.com/.../20389789.aspx

    Maybe my question is a duplicate but I found this thread only now.

    Music Man 51, have you found any workaround for it?

  • my 'work-around' cost me about $35,  BUT IT WORKS GREAT and is hassle free.    i use a usb video/audio capture device instead of that confusing combo jack.    i suggest the diamond vc-500 or there are even some cheaper generics on amazon.   i then use audacity freeware as my audio recording software.   the quality of the audio recordings is quite good.   (and the side benefit is that you have the option to use it for audio capture, or audio/video capture