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Recording/sound card issue

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I originally thought this was a microphone problem, but I think the issue lies with my sound card (& Vista, probably.)

Essentially, any sound going into the laptop, from an external microphone or from the internal one itself and even from direct input (i.e., plugging a (music) keyboard directly into the laptop) will not record properly: any sustained sounds decay in volume much faster than they should. The volume, after about one second of recording at the correct level, immediately drops off to less than a quarter of what the actual volume is.

Needless to say, this makes recording music infuriatingly impossible.

Any help is much, much appreciated.

I'm using an Acer Aspire 6920, running Vista.
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