Mysterious Microphone Problem Solved

All week people at work have been complaining that while on calls (Skype, Hangouts, etc), the volume of my voice would mysteriously dip. They’d say that they could still hear what I was saying, except it sounded much quieter than usual. It didn’t sound like the usual VOIP-ing out that occurs with bandwidth issues.

This seems to have started happening out of the blue. Or maybe finally people decided to start complaining to me about it. I was racking my brain to figure out what was happening.

It didn’t matter what app I used: Skype, Hangouts, TeamSpeak – they all suffered.
I changed headsets. Nothing.
I changed USB ports. Nothing.
I scoured all my audio settings. Found nothing.
I use wired Ethernet, so it’s not a Wi-Fi problem.
I didn’t think it was a network problem, but still, I rebooted my router and cable modem and fiddled with Quality of Service (QoS) settings. No dice.

During a Skype today, I brought up the Skype audio settings panel and witnessed the following. Watch the blue ball under Microphone — this indicates the microphone input gain. Even though I turned off "Automatically adjust microphone settings", it was moving around.


I determined that the dips were coinciding precisely with my pressing keys on the keyboard.

I then remembered a setting I’d seen in the Lenovo Settings app:

Lenovo Settings_2014-04-18_14-50-23

A-HA! Suppress keyboard noise!

I turned that switch off, and the problem disappeared.

I kinda remember turning that setting on, vaguely, forever ago. I assumed it would only be in effect if I was using the built-in microphone on the laptop. In that case, it’d be useful to suppress the thudding of my typing inches away from the built-in laptop microphone. I never imagined it would also be in effect while using a headset.