Overview

When taking Listening and Speaking sections, you'll need a working microphone and speakers. For ease of use, Avant strongly recommends that USB headsets with microphones be used for both of these sections. Other headset and microphone options may work, but may require more preparation steps by IT representatives due to being more dependent on the local configuration.


Configuring Headsets

Prior to testing, it is recommended that an IT representative test and configure the headsets for each computer. Configuring a USB headset may be as simple as plugging it in. To check that audio streaming and recording are working, please take a sample test.

Instructions for configuring sound are available through the computer’s operating system Help facilities. On the configuration screens, make sure that the headset is selected and the volume levels are set appropriately.

 

Using the Headsets

The Testing Coordinator should ensure that arrangements have been made for the headsets to be plugged in before starting the test, and that test takers know how to use the in-line controls on the headsets, if available.

 

Adjusting Microphone Levels for MacOS and Windows

If you are receiving a low mic or low volume error message while recording in the Speaking section you may need to adjust the sound settings in your preferences.

Macintosh

Windows

1. Open System Preferences by clicking the Apple menu and selecting System Preferences.

 1. Open the Start menu by clicking it and select the Control Panel from the right pane.  

1. Open the Start menu by clicking it and select the Control Panel from the right pane.
 

 
 2. Locate and click on the Sound preference pane.  

2. Locate and click on the Sound preference pane.
 

 2. From the Control Panel, locate the Hardware and Sound settings and open it.  

2. From the Control Panel, locate the Hardware and Sound settings and open it.
 

 
 3. Once the Sound Preferences are open click on the Input tab.

3. Once the Sound Preferences are open click on the Input tab.

 3. From the Hardware and Sound section, click on Sound to open the system settings for your audio devices.  

3. From the Hardware and Sound section, click on Sound to open the system settings for your audio devices.
 

 
 4. Locate the attached headset and ensure it is the active input device (using the Internal Microphone is not recommended in a lab setting).  

4. Locate the attached headset and ensure it is the active input device (using the Internal Microphone is not recommended in a lab setting).
 

 4. Navigate to the Recording tab of the Sound properties panel. If the external microphone is not currently set as the default on the Recording tab, be sure to set it now. Right mouse click and choose “Set as Default Device”.  

4. Navigate to the Recording tab of the Sound properties panel. If the external microphone is not currently set as the default on the Recording tab, be sure to set it now. Right mouse click and choose “Set as Default Device”.
 

 
 5. Adjust the Input volume slider until the input level graph shows movement during normal speaking with the microphone at an appropriate distance from the speaker.  The microphone gain should now be set properly to allow students to record their speaking responses. Close System Preferences when done making changes.

5. Adjust the Input volume slider until the input level graph shows movement during normal speaking with the microphone at an appropriate distance from the speaker.

The microphone gain should now be set properly to allow students to record their speaking responses. Close System Preferences when done making changes.

 5. Double click on the external microphone from the list to open its settings panel.  

5. Double click on the external microphone from the list to open its settings panel.
 

 

 

Windows Continued...

headset-guide-windows-volume.png
headset-guide-windows-volume-2.png

6. If the slider is set too low, raising it to a higher gain will improve audio quality for speaking responses. Change the slider to a higher gain then press OK.

 
headset-guide-windows-volume-3.png
 

7. From the Sound Panel, speak normally into the microphone and note whether or not the green input graph shows that it is registering your input. If it is not, double-click the microphone and raise the gain until it does so.

The microphone gain should now be set properly to allow students to record their speaking responses. Close the Control Panel when done making changes.

 

Adjusting Microphone Levels in Chrome OS

Unfortunately, it is not possible to adjust the microphone sensitivity in ChromeOS. For issues with recording in ChromeOS, we recommend trying an alternate headset, asking the test taker to speak with additional volume, or to move closely to the microphone. If recording issues persist, moving the tester to an area without background noise may be needed


Troubleshooting Recording Issues

  • Check that the microphone is not muted - many headsets have a mute button on the set itself, or on the wire that is connected to it

  • Check that the volume on the microphone is not turned all the way down

  • Make sure the tester is using a supported browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari)

  • Try refreshing the page

  • Stop the test and close the browser window, then restart the browser and log back in

  • Try a different browser

  • Make sure the headset was plugged in before starting the test

  • Also, try unplugging the headset and plugging it back in during the test (for USB headsets)

  • Ensure that "Allow" is selected in the browser site settings allowing the use of the microphone in the test

  • Check to see if you can record sound in a different application on the computer

  • If only one or two test takers are affected, try a different headset or a different computer

  • If students log into student accounts on the computers, make sure that the student account for logging into the computer does not have restrictions that would affect recording


Deprecated Flash Support

There are some additional options in the Flash Player Settings that can be adjusted

 1. Click anywhere on the Flash Player to begin

1. Click anywhere on the Flash Player to begin

 2. Next click "Allow" to give the Flash Player access to the microphone

2. Next click "Allow" to give the Flash Player access to the microphone

 3. Click on "SETTINGS" to access the Flash Player Settings

3. Click on "SETTINGS" to access the Flash Player Settings

 4. On the Privacy tab, ensure "Allow" was selected for access to the microphone and check the box next to "Remember" so that clicking allow every time is not needed

4. On the Privacy tab, ensure "Allow" was selected for access to the microphone and check the box next to "Remember" so that clicking allow every time is not needed

 5. On the Microphone tab, it is possible to select the active microphone from the drop-down list, as well as turn up the recording volume, or gain  6. Click "Close" when finished

5. On the Microphone tab, it is possible to select the active microphone from the drop-down list, as well as turn up the recording volume, or gain

6. Click "Close" when finished

 7. Even without clicking "RECORD", it should be possible to see the green bar rising and falling occasionally, on the right, indicating the microphone is working

7. Even without clicking "RECORD", it should be possible to see the green bar rising and falling occasionally, on the right, indicating the microphone is working

 

 

Possible Error Messages

In nearly all cases, these messages are due to an issue with your computer or network setup. Some suggestions are to:

  • Check the operating system's sound configuration and to make sure security settings are not blocking access to Avant's servers
  • Note that operating system policies can sometimes make non-administrative accounts unable to use the Flash Plugin

"Low mic level" - Refreshing the page and having the test taker speak in a higher volume, or move more closely to the microphone are sometimes all that is needed. If this message is regularly encountered, please refer to the sections above on Adjusting Microphone Levels for MacOS and Windows and also Adjusting Microphone Settings Inside the Flash Player

"Netstream Error" or "Error in controller initialization" - This is a message that may be seen due to connection issues. If encountering this message, please try refreshing the browser page or logging out and back into the test. This should refresh the connection

"Cannot connect to server" - This message means something at your network level is blocking parts of the test from loading. Firewalls, Proxy Servers, and Content Filters need to be set to NOT proxy, filter or block the Avant domain names on the ports listed below. All inbound and outbound traffic for the applicable domain names shown below must be whitelisted
(TCP 80, TCP/UDP 1935) rtmp.avantassessment.com

"Loading..." - This message means something at your network level is blocking parts of the test from loading. Firewalls, Proxy Servers, and Content Filters need to be set to NOT proxy, filter or block the Avant domain names on the ports listed below. All inbound and outbound traffic for the applicable domain names shown below must be whitelisted
(TCP 80, 443) d2joqoyszh6j.cloudfront.net