Using AudioChat

AudioChat is a voice chat client built into online courses offered by the School of Public Health. AudioChat requires the Flash Player.

Before you can use AudioChat, you need to do the following:

  1. Have a headset microphone attached to your computer. Built-in laptop microphones will not work.

    Headphones for listening to audio are not the same as a headset microphone. You cannot use headphones alone to participate in voice chats in AudioChat.

    Inexpensive, high-quality USB headset microphones are manufactured by both Logitech and Plantronics and are available at many online and physical retailers such as Amazon.com and Best Buy. Note that the Center only provides techincal support for USB headset mics.

  2. You must select your headset microphone as the input source in the "Sound" Control Panel. (This setting is located in "Sound" -> "Audio" tab -> "Sound recording: Default device" in Windows XP.)

You can launch AudioChat by clicking the " AudioChat" link on the main Communication Center page of any of your courses.

Here's a brief demonstration of how to use AudioChat.

  • Use a headset microphone. Headset mics provide the best sound quality, and just work. They are also required for all online courses at the School.
  • If your voice is too quiet or does not come across in the audio chat, please try the following:

    • Adjust the position of your microphone to be closer to your mouth.
    • Adjust the "Record Volume" slider in the microphone tab of the Flash Player settings. To do this, right–click anywhere within Messenger and select "Settings..." from the menu that pops up. Click on the microphone icon at the bottom of the settings window. Adjust the "Record Volume" slider towards the right so that your voice will be louder to other participants in the room. (There is a live level indicator next to the "Record Volume" slider that gives you instant feedback on the level of input your microphone is giving the computer.) More information about adjusting the microphone settings in the Flash player can be found here.
    • Check the system level of your audio input. You can do this on Windows by selecting the speaker icon on the far right side of the System Tray (Task Bar). Right-click the speaker icon and select "Open Volume Control." This will open the Volume Control window. In the Volume Control window, make sure that the microphone input level is all the way up. On Mac OS X, launch the System Preferences and select the "Sound" control panel, where you can adjust the input level of your microphone.
    • If adjusting the system level of your audio input does not work, try adjusting the overall volume setting for your system by clicking once on the speaker icon on the far right side of the System Tray (Task Bar). This will open the system volume slider, which you should set all the way up.
    • If none of the above suggestions work, you should test to see if your computer is accepting your microphone input. On Windows, go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Entertainment -> Sound Recorder. See if you can record sound into this application using your current microphone settings. If you cannot, there is a hardware problem which is preventing your computer from accepting microphone input. If you can record and play back your voice in this application, try updating your Flash player and sound card drivers to their latest respective versions.
  • When you speak in the voice chat, the first word you say may be cut off. This happens because Audio Chat must begin to "broadcast" your voice as soon as you click and hold the "Talk" button. If you click and hold the "Talk" button, wait two or three seconds, and then begin speaking, your voice should not be cut off at all.
  • Avoid talking at the same time as another person. Your voice coming out of speakers on the other person's computer may get captured by their microphone and be re-broadcast, thus creating a bad feedback loop.
  • If you will be doing small group work in Audio Chat, designate a group leader who will be responsible for creating a room for your group and deleting the room once your work is done. Having a leader or facilitator can greatly improve the quality of your small group work.
  • When creating rooms, be sure to name the rooms as descriptively as possible — especially if you are doing small group work.
  • Be sure to exit the private room and return to the Audio Chat lobby before closing the Messenger window. This will ensure that your room clears out properly on the server and that the room can be deleted. It's important to delete a room once you are done with it so that others who were not in your group cannot view the chat text from your room at a later time.

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