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Intermittent or no sound when recording

Have you ever used an external microphone with your camcorder?

If you answered yes, there is a good chance the problem is related to the external microphone jack. There is a lot of force put on the small external mic jack when a microphone is plugged into it. The weight of the mic cable alone can cause problems, but add to that someone tripping on the cord, or banging the protruding mic plug against something and you have a major problem. The jack itself is usually soldered to a circuit board inside and this abuse will break the connections loose from the board. When this happens, your regular internal microphone will stop working or only work intermittently when the jack happens to be making contact. This is because the jack has a built-in switch which disables the internal mic when an external one is used. To determine if this is your problem, try wiggling the jack with the tip of a pen while making a test recording. You will here the sound cutting in and out if the jack is the culprit. The solution? Take the camcorder to a reputable service center and tell them where the problem is. The good news is, it is a relatively inexpensive repair.

Check the external microphone jack. Even if you never use the external mic jack on your camcorder, it can be the cause of no sound in recordings. Almost all camcorders have an external microphone jack located somewhere on the unit. As mentioned above, this jack has a switch built-in that disables the internal microphone when an external one is plugged in. The switch is made of metal contacts, and metal contacts can tarnish and get corroded depending on environmental conditions. If the contacts have become tarnished, they can't make a good connection anymore. Without a good connection, the switch will act as if an external microphone is plugged in and your internal microphone will stop working. The best way to check for this condition is to make a recording with an external microphone plugged in. Any inexpensive cassette recorder microphone with a 3.5mm plug (1/8") will do. If you get sound when using the external microphone, you may need to have the jack replaced by a service center. A quick fix is to put the mic plug into the jack and remove it several times. This may dislodge enough tarnish or corrosion to allow the switch to make contact again. You can try this using any 3.5mm plug even if it isn't attached to a microphone. Note: wouldn't advise spraying any type of contact cleaner into the jack because depending on the design of the camcorder you may damage components located inside and behind the jack.

Check the audio input jack. Some camcorders have audio and video input jacks for making recordings from another VCR. In some cases, this jack will have a built-in switch, just like the one described above on the external mic jack, that will disable the internal microphone. If you have a VCR and a dubbing cable with RCA/phono plugs on it you can make a test recording using these jacks. If you get sound on this recording, the problem may very well be the switch in the audio jack. Read the section above for more details on the cause and follow the "quick fix" instructions using a RCA/phono plug instead of a 3.5mm microphone plug to attempt to temporarily solve the problem. The same caution about contact cleaners applies here.

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