Hearing Line-In input on Vista on Dell laptop

Admittedly, a somewhat esoteric topic/tip, but I ran into this recently, so I figured there may be other folks who can benefit...

I've got a Dell Latitude D820 laptop, running 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate, and I've occasionally wanted to be able to use my laptop as a speaker system for my Zune when I'm on the road, but hadn't been able to figure out how until recently.

One of my colleagues gave me a 1/8" stereo plug extension cord (1/8" stereo on both ends) which was perfect for plugging the Zune into the line-in on the laptop. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that there isn't any way by default using the SigmaTel drivers to monitor the input from the line-in.

Fortunately, a quick search came up with this post on dellcommunity.com:


The registry hack posted (see warning below) worked a treat for me, allowing me to enable monitoring the line-in by modifying the settings in the Playback properties of the Sound control panel applet:


The registry setting enables the Input Monitor button show above, and when enabled, allows me to playback my Zune over my laptop speakers. Excellent!

WARNING: Never edit the Windows registry if you don't know what you're doing. Editing the registry incorrectly can render your system unbootable, or cause other major problems. If you have any concerns about editing the registry, just DON'T.

Comments (8)
  1. Sarah says:

    Nice! Writing it up for 10. 🙂

  2. GlenGordon says:

    As the supplier of the aforementioned cable, this is an interesting post. But I’m confused. Why wouldn’t you just use the Zune software on your laptop to play the music?

  3. DEvHammer says:

    Glen…I don’t want to hassle with copying all of my music to my laptop. Besides…the laptop belongs to my employer, so it’s not where my music library belongs. When I’m using my 30GB Zune, I can have my entire music library, and then some, on one device, and don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ve got my latest music with me.

  4. John says:

    Is there a Hack to Enable a Midi Volume Control  along the lines of EnableMidiVolume Or to Record what you hear?

  5. DEvHammer says:


    I’m sorry to say I have no clue on the MIDI volume stuff. While I have a little experience with MIDI synths, etc. from my theatre days, since this machine is a work laptop, MIDI is not something I’d generally use with it.

  6. Frankie D says:

    I used this registry edit and get the Input Monitor described above.  I even enabled it and now I can press play on the Zune so that music is playing (before it was on permanent pause, I think).  

    Either way I don’t hear any sound coming out of my speakers either the laptop or the external speakers I have plugged into my Dell docking station.  Is there something else I’m supposed to do here?



  7. DEvHammer says:

    Frankie D:

    Not sure what to suggest. I don’t think that the Zune specifically has anything to do with it…you should’ve been able to get the Zune to play regardless of this setting, you just wouldn’t hear anything from the Line In jack.

    The classic troubleshooting steps apply, though. Try to isolate the issue by testing individual components:

    – do you hear audio from the Zune with headphones? If not, you may have the volume too low, or another issue with the device

    – do you hear audio from the laptop with another audio source plugged into the Line In jack? If not, then the issue is probably with the laptop/sound card.

    Be aware that this fix is pretty specific to this soundcard/OS combo, so if you have a different configuration, there’s no telling if it will work for you.

  8. Chris Downs says:

    This process (in gduthie’s original post) worked like a charm for me, on my Dell Optiplex GX620.


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