Weak microphone on a new ASUS laptop

Discussion in 'Asus' started by W. eWatson, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. W. eWatson

    W. eWatson Guest

    Lap top is model n53sv-xv1. The mike seems of questionable quality. Any
    fixes to remedy it? It's being used on Linux Fedora 15.
    W. eWatson, Nov 14, 2011
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  2. W. eWatson

    Paul Guest

    Why wouldn't you boot into the provided Windows, and
    establish baseline performance there first. Then, return to
    Linux and work on it ?

    Try recording sound while in Windows. If it doesn't work well there,
    then it'll be no surprise when it works exactly the same in Linux.

    The documentation is a bit useless, in that one place says "mono microphone"
    and in another mentions "digital array". You're going to need the services
    of lspci, lsusb, and perhaps some Windows utilities to make sure you
    know what hardware is in there.

    Paul, Nov 14, 2011
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  3. W. eWatson

    W. eWatson Guest

    Well, when my wife headed for a Linux install, she had no idea there
    would be a microphone problem.
    W. eWatson, Nov 15, 2011
  4. W. eWatson

    Paul Guest

    Actually, in a quick check, do you know how much "breakable" hardware
    there is in it ? Before starting a Linux install, on some brand
    new spiffy hardware, you've gotta check what other people have
    already seen. For example, the "Fresco" USB3 chip doesn't appear
    to get detected in Linux properly. And the graphics on the machine
    involves dual GPU, and there's some trick to selecting which
    GPU to use. (In Windows, Asus would make sure that part, works.)

    On low end stuff, you might not have any surprises, because the
    hardware design is pretty boring. But as the boxes get more expensive,
    there are more tricks. The tricks work great in Windows, because
    "somebody cares". But in Linux, the Linux crew has to "clean up the
    mess" as the mess is discovered. So if you're grabbing recent
    vintage hardware, you would not expect the journey to be an easy one.

    Therefore, if I was doing this install, it would be dual boot for a while,
    with Windows7 offered as an option in the grub menu. Then, you can boot
    back and forth, and compare operations and performance, to see how
    it is supposed to work.

    The vip.asus.com site, seems to have that model number of machine on it,
    but there doesn't seem to be a "laptop" subsection in the forum. I don't
    know if they removed it, or they have a completely separate forum for
    laptops. I was going to suggest looking over there, but I had a hard time
    making any progress. So there's nothing of note over there that I could
    find. But maybe I'm looking in the wrong place. They're supposed to
    treat their laptop/notebook customers a bit better than their
    other customers, so it's just possible they have some other forum
    for them.

    Paul, Nov 15, 2011
  5. W. eWatson

    W. eWatson Guest

    It didn't seem useful to her. She mentioned there were some questionable
    posts out there. Politely, way off topic.
    W. eWatson, Nov 15, 2011
  6. W. eWatson

    Paul Guest

    The problem with this microphone issue, is using the available evidence
    to figure out what it is.

    One doc says "mono microphone". In other words, just the regular
    crappy electret microphone. The Asus driver seems to be for
    RealTek audio, implying there may be a RealTek HDAudio codec on the
    machine. A microphone like that would not have Plug and Play
    info. The hardware codec chip may have impedance sensing, so it
    can tell "things" are connected, but it can't tell exactly what.
    Normally, a wizard would pop up and ask for confirmation that
    "a microphone is connected to the microphone port". Which is a
    fine concept, if you happen to be holding the microphone in your
    hand. If it is pre-wired, then that concept is kinda useless. After
    all, they don't give you a circuit schematic for the laptop, to verify
    where the thing is wired.

    Another doc says "digital array microphone". Does that means USB ?
    What other digital bus could they use, if not USB ? Array implies
    more than one microphone, and such gadgets are used to make the
    microphone directional, and ignore off-axis noise.

    An analog version of that in the past, was the Andrea Superbeam, bundled
    with some SoundMax codec chip solutions. The idea there, was
    software would do "beamforming", and look at the phasing of the
    signals, such that sounds off to the side were ignored, while
    sound in the center would be passed.


    If you're not running some beamforming software, then you see
    an ordinary stereo microphone, without benefit of directionality.
    The appropriate software, causes the microphone to look monophonic
    and directional.

    To make progress here, you need to use all the available info
    you can get your hands on. Mainly, because there is no guarantee
    Plug and Play is going to make it obvious what hardware is present.
    You may be able to tell from some of the Windows software. But
    with Linux and lspci or lsusb, you're quite limited in what you
    can learn.

    Some of the Plug and Play in Windows now, is done with ACPI objects,
    passed in a table by the BIOS. It is up to the computer designer,
    to make sure that any hardware to be identified that way, is coded
    into the BIOS. In Windows, I might use Lavalys Everest to list
    all the various kinds of PNP information. In Linux, I don't know
    what the nearest equivalent of that is. I've seen at least one
    utility, that attempts to provide about as much info as Device
    Manager, but it still didn't look like it did as much as Everest
    is capable of doing.

    Paul, Nov 15, 2011
  7. W. eWatson

    W. eWatson Guest

    ASUS confirmed it's a bad mike. It's going back to Amazon. Sending it to
    ASUS requires we pay for the shipment.
    W. eWatson, Nov 15, 2011
  8. W. eWatson

    W. eWatson Guest

    After many hours on this, she solved it. Here are the basics:

    1. yum install alsa-utils gnome-media-apps pavucontrol paman
    gnome-sound-recorder and Skype test call are used to test results.
    alsa-utils provides gstreamer-properties and alsa-info.
    gnome-media-apps provides gnome-sound-recorder.

    2. "alsamixer -c0 -Vcapture" to set microphone to maximum value.
    If that fails, use pavucontrol to decouple left and right, and set
    to 100%, 98%.

    3. If you are getting sound but it is low volume, run gstreamer-properties.
    Set Input to PulseAudio, and internal mic as the device.

    4. If volume is low but present, run paman and set mic volume to 200%.
    Adjust up or down as necessary.

    For my computer, I went through all four steps. At one point,
    gnome-sound-recorder was happy, but Skype still wasn't. Right now my
    mic volume is at 150%, which is what I'll use next time we skype, and
    adjust again from there.
    W. eWatson, Nov 22, 2011
  9. W. eWatson

    Paul Guest

    The alsamixer -c0 -Vcapture thing, brings up the curses based, color mixer
    panel, where you use keyboard input to move the sliders up and down. This
    is a basic feature of working with Linux sound. The -c0 will vary,
    depending on how many sound devices you have. The Vcapture is an attempt to
    reduce the number of sliders appearing in the window. I usually
    just run it as "alsamixer" with no parameters.


    So the basic theme of your post, is use the various sound subsystem
    flavors and adjust the microphone level. Linux sound is very annoying
    to say the least.

    The only sane way to deal with Linux sound, is install Gentoo, and
    cut out whole subsystems and recompile everything from source. By
    doing that, I removed PulseAudio from my Gentoo box.

    Paul, Nov 22, 2011
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