inbuilt laptop microphone troubleshooting

by Peter

I am very happy with my Benq joybook s31VW laptop running Win XP that as far as I am concerned only has one flaw - the inbuilt microphone. No matter what I do it only records at such a low level that it is useless, even though I have done all that I can imagine to do to try and fix this problem myself (I can no longer count how many times I have uninstalled the Realtek audio drivers, downloaded new driver software and reinstalled the drivers all to no avail). The inbuilt microphone does work - when I put my mouth next to the tiny microphone hole on the keyboard and shout very loud the audio levels reaches a "normal" level on the volume measuring "speech" software tool in the Win XP control panel. But this is not a very practical way to have a skype conversation! Of course another option is to just plug an external mike into the mic jack but I would prefer not to have to do this. Besides even the audio quality with the one external mic that I tried was not very satisfactory - could I expect different/better? results with a mike plugged into the USB socket instead of the mic jack? What I am trying to figure out is this: is the problem I am having obtaining adequate audio levels from the laptops inbuilt microphone more likely to be a hardware problem (cheap or faulty inbuilt microphone) or a software problem (drivers, codecs etc etc). I would be very happy if it was the latter as this means I could probably fix the problem myself by downloading and installing the correct software, rather than having to take it to a repair shop to have hardware components repaired or replaced that is often an expensive and time consuming process. Any suggestions or advice before I lose the little hair I have left most welcome.

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