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The headphones and microphone on my Ubuntu 10.10 work fine. But when I start an audio conversation using empathy or pidgin, my computer hangs, the microphone doesn't work, and I can't record anything.

I have tried sudo alsa force-reload, I have installed pavucontrol, but nothing works. I can't increase the volume of the headphones and master channel using alsamixer though they are unmuted. (Everything works fine in Fedora and Windows XP.)

How do I fix this?

Thank you.

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See my answer at Bad sound quality and headphones not working for the steps to troubleshoot the issue and provide more information.

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Give a try to alsamixer in a terminal by dropping:

sudo alsamixer

and after providing your password, you will have the controls of alsa mixer on which you can do as many changes as you wish in order to test if it is a software related issue. Remember that in the majority of the cases the audio hardware (mic and headphones) is good enough for almost anything but they can also have a failure. So you better check if your alsa mixer gives a response by doing this and check it out with some other hardware.

In my case I had to change from 2 different microphones to a proffessional Senheiser or Shure with an adapted 1/8" stereo plug to a balanced canon line in order to have a good microphone source for the input.

(AND I SAID: MY CASE, which means "probably not your case", so if you wish to downvote my comment please check that this answer won't probably fit your issue, but what I wish is to contribute my experiences, thank you.)

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