How to Enable Digital Microphone Array on Dell Inspiron Laptops in Ubuntu 8.04

Some of the new Dell Inspiron laptops (the 1420n, 1520, and 1525 are the ones I know of) come with a digital microphone array above the screen, but a fresh install of Ubuntu 8.04 will not have the array enabled by default.

Fortunately, it wasn’t too difficult to enable, and now I can use Audacity, Skype, etc., without any peripherals.

Although Hardy’s usage of the new Pulseaudio system is causing problems with many audio applications, the problem in this case seemed to be alsa-based

  1. Right-click the volume applet in the top-right of your screen and click Open Volume Control.
  2. Click File > Change Device and change the device to the alsa device.
  3. Now click Edit > Preferences and select both Digital and Digital Input Source.
  4. In the Recording tab, make sure the digital device’s volume is all the way up and that the device is not muted.
  5. In the Options tab, change Digital Input Source: to Digital Mic 1.

15 thoughts on “How to Enable Digital Microphone Array on Dell Inspiron Laptops in Ubuntu 8.04

  1. Teju

    Hey this information was really useful as i am thinking of switching to linux with vista basic on my 1420.
    I have one more question.
    Usually i divert my sound out put via SPDIF output [One of the sound option in control panel under sound, digital output device.]
    then i Use dell’s component video adapter and watch movie on TV.

    Have you find any application on Ubuntu which can utilize the same digital audio out put??

    Have you tried the same In xP or vista before on your dell?

    let me know.

  2. RnD HW

    Thanks for the info, I’ve been searching for this..
    I have an Inspiron 1420, running Ubuntu 8.04, and this works!

    PS: do you know how to activate the front jack microphone?

  3. dmaz Post author

    Sorry, I don’t have experience with either of your questions, but I’ll be sure to post the solutions if I ever do encounter them.

  4. Pingback: Install Ubuntu on Dell Inspiron 1420 Part II - Upgrades « Randy H&W’s Blog

  5. Pingback: Enable Internal/External Microphone Inspiron 1420 on Ubuntu 8.04 « Randy H&W’s Blog

  6. Arkensis

    It worked for me, but when I restarted my computer, it stopped working, the settings are still the same but my mic doesn’t work.

  7. Pingback: HOWTO: Enabling the external analog mic for Dell Inspiron 1720 in Ubuntu 9.04 for Skype « Wilsonconnect’s Weblog

  8. Shon

    what do you mean the volume control in the top right? i dont have that only in the bottom right and I cant like click file or anything..i have an ispiron 1720

    1. dmaz Post author

      This method is for Ubuntu.
      In Vista, right click the speaker icon in the System Tray and click Recording Devices. From there you can modify your audio inputs.

  9. Pingback: Finally got mic working in Ubuntu 10.04 Dell n4010 « Jigar Savla's – Chaos Theory

  10. Pingback: Enable mic in Skype. Using Alsa sound. Please help.

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