Configuring Windows 7 Sound Options

November 23, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Several sound options are available in Windows 7, from configuration of soundcards, headsets and microphones to recording tools and speech recognition!

These features are suitably upgraded for the new operating system and have been given a bit of an overhaul – as such we would suggest you give this guide a good read just so you know where to find the new version of Windows Sound Recorder, how to change your system sound profiles and how to get started with speech recognition.

Accessing Sound Properties in Windows 7

using sound settings in Windows 7There are two main ways to access the sound properties in Windows 7. The first is to go to Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound – alternatively, identify the volume control in your system tray, right-click and choose Sound.

Sound properties are split into four tabs:

  • Playback
  • Recording
  • Sounds
  • Communications

On the Playback tab you will find devices associated with playback on your PC – most commonly the only ones you will be able to adjust will be the Speakers or any headset you have connected. Depending upon your sound card you might be able to Configure the Speakers to a different sound profile (for instance from two speakers to Dolby 5.1) or access the Properties to enable or disable the speaker output and access any other settings your sound card makes possible.

Via the Recording tab, meanwhile, you have access to any sound input devices such as microphones and audio line in devices. Use the Configure option here to access Speech Recognition and adjust your microphone to begin issuing voice commands to your PC.

Customise Windows 7 Sounds

The Sounds tab is one of the most popular options for anyone who likes to customise their Windows 7 experience. A range of sound profiles are available, allowing you to select a profile or customize one to suit your own requirements. Via the Sound Scheme drop down you can select from 15 sound profiles (including No sound) and each of these applies different sounds to various Program Events.

To see which Program Events are affected in each sound theme, view the list below the drop down menu – events with a speaker icon next to them have a sound assigned, and this can be previewed by selecting the event and clicking the Test button. If you don’t like the sound, you can either choose a different Sound Scheme or use the Browse button to find a suitable .WAV file on your PC; MP3 files aren’t supported for this purpose.

Finally, the Communications tab provides some slick options to avoid fiddling around with volume controls when using Voice over IP tools like Skype. Traditionally, if a phonecall was received via Skype, you might have turned down the volume on your desktop MP3 player of choice or muted it entirely; with these new settings, you don’t need to!

When a call is received, you can program Windows 7 to:

  • Mute all other sounds
  • Reduce the volume of other sounds by 80%
  • Reduce the volume of other sounds by 50%
  • Do nothing

With one of the middle two options selected, you get a great faded decrease in MP3 player volume when you make or receive internet calls.

Make Some Noise!

Sadly Microsoft still doesn’t provide more comprehensive sound recording tools with Windows 7, but a new version of Sound Recorder has been included.

Available from Start > Accessories > Sound Recorder, this tool will allow you to record voice audio from a microphone and is useful for making audio notes. All you need to do to get started is ensure you have a microphone connected to your PC and click the Start Recording button. Once you’re done, click Stop Recording and Sound Recorder will ask you to save the file; unfortunately sound can only be saved in WMA format.

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