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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Hardware » Audio
Finding Testing and Using Your Microphone in PUPPY Linux
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug 2014, 20:16    Post_subject:  Finding Testing and Using Your Microphone in PUPPY Linux
Sub_title: How can I tell if this PC has builtin recording or will I need to add something to record?

Tutorial Using a combination of Retrovol and ALSAmixer to setup Microphone

Before beginning, I consider it fair to say that a more general purposed tutorial by the folks from Audacity, exist here.

I remember that several years ago, I asked a question on the FATDOG thread and was helped; but I did not come away with a good understanding of tools to determine whether I had what it takes on a PC to record. This thread rekindle that pursuit, while showing one approach that was used to discover and use a Microphone on a Laptop.

Taking an older 32bit Laptop, I booted EmSeeV2.2 to use as a base to try to complete a scenario that I could follow to determine and test audio MIC recording.

Laptop, especially older ones without a video camera built-in are a hit/miss for built-in audio record capability. So let me summarize the ones I have seen over the years.:
  1. Laptops with Camera and record capability (MIC) built in
  2. Laptops with record capability (MIC) built in, no Camera
  3. Laptops no Camera and no record capability (MIC) built in
  1. how does one tell if "you have record capability (MIC) built in" or NOT???
  2. And how do you use Puppy Linux to turn on facility for recording?
Over the years, 2 tools are prevalent in Puppyland and often distro developers will include both of them without bias. They can be exercised from the command-line or often from the Menu>Multimedia as well. They are "retrovol" and "alsamixer". So on this laptop, opening both tools, I see the following:

The next step is to try to make sense of the pictures and what they are trying to tell any of us. Its not that easy as they really dont spell out anything meaningful about your PC's ability, even if it should have a Microphone that is useable.

But on the ALSA-Project.org site, I found a helpful clue under "Soundcard Testing" where it instructs the following for use in a terminal window. aplay will play a file and arecord will record should you have a Microphone. The webpage instructs:
arecord -vv -fdat foo.wav    <=== to record what it hears into a foo.wav file
aplay -vv  foo.wav    <===  to play what it heard earlier

Even this instruction did NOT prepare me for what was to occur. Oh, aplay was pretty confusingly straightforward, but arecord was NOT SO on this laptop.

Try the commands in a terminal
Without any instructions, anyone new to Microphone recording with this distro's settings for the system's sound would be lost to make sense that you need all 3 (at least 2 of them, as you will see) to get some appreciation for the laptop ability. Since the Retrovol/ALSA pictures do nothing, as they are mere information, the commands share that they will exercise system for Microphone recording. So NOT changing the pictures, I ran the commands: entering arecord -vv -fdat foo.wav as instructed, the terminal just stared at me with NO obvious activity. I talked to the laptop.Stopping it and playing foo.wav as instructed immediately stopped after some information. Nothing! I retested: I shouted at the laptop ... Stopping it and playing foo.wav, nothing again. Hummmm???

Use a real Microphone
OK, I guess maybe this PC does NOT have a Microphone built-in. So I grabbed a headset from the Windows PC and plugged into this Puppy laptop. I tried the above tests, again, talking to the headset. Still NOTHING!

Look at screen for signs
On the ALSAmixer, I hit F4 for clue. Nothing??? So I looked at the Retrovol screen and noticed a "Capture" checkbox. I checked it watching the ALSA window and saw no real change.

So I tried the commands again and the terminal merely stared blankly back at me...nothing! Back to Retrovol...what else??? So clicked in the area to increase its capture volume and what do you know? ... The ALSA window is NOW responding too.

Seems like a good sign, so back to the terminal window to run the commands, again and NOW I GOT A NEW RESULT. Seems now, at the last line of "arecord -vv ..." command,I see a line that is indicating something is happening on the system as I talk to it."

Behold, when I run the "aplay foo.wav" command I hear myself.

Finally via the plugged in Microphone, I have recording into a sound file after these changes.

Biggest problem here is that it cost anyone too much time to "play" without clear steps to accidentally discover what works on a similar laptop. And, because this is done all to infrequently, it a patchwork of guesses of tools and commands and ....

It really should NOT be this way. I am NOT comparing Puppy Linux to Apple or Microsoft as everyone knows how long I have been in the community, but, there should be a document somewhere or a facility to let a user know if the Puppy PC they are on can record. The information I refer, doesn't mean the PC has a sound card. It means; if you have a sound card, is there a Microphone detected and can it record at this time!!! Thus, having a sound card and being able to see it is meaningless. But, "Does It have what it takes to Record?" is meaningful for so many Puppy Linux applications.

Hope this helps and hope it, too, spurs IDEAs. Idea

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Joined: 14 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug 2014, 20:26    Post_subject:  

There is a need to address 3 additional items which is needed when Microphone devices are attached to a Puppy distro.
  • Secondary soundcard devices (sometimes the primary card is also identified in the system as a USB device, so this discovery of a Microphone gets confusing)
  • Video camera which has a built-in Microphone
  • smartDevice which has a built-in Microphone
Please post as you are capable

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PostPosted: Sun 10 Aug 2014, 06:30    Post_subject: Howto use Precord to aid setup & testing of PC's Microphone  

Some relevant info here:


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PostPosted: Mon 11 Aug 2014, 13:28    Post_subject:  

This could be useful for someone: http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=95203
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov 2014, 01:06    Post_subject:  

GCmartin - you mentioned that you 'clicked' into the capture slider area to activate and increase capture volume. There is another way that sometimes must be used - the user can use the right or left arrow to bring each slider (or mic boost etc button) into focus. Then they can use the space bar (or sometimes "M" key) to activate the slider, then use up or down arrow to adjust. May be useful info for some applications.

Also - because Alsa is imperfect - I recommend using the tab key to switch between 'playback', 'capture' and 'all' modes. Different sliders are visible in each mode. Also, check these again after starting toplay or record - as the type and name of sliders change again sometimes. Crazy I know.

Great tutorial by the way!
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