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.


Nifty Skype Trick

Here’s a favorite Skype trick of mine. If I know I want to be able to walk around during a meeting, I’ll get Skype loaded up on my Android phone as well as my computer. When the call comes in, both devices ring. I can answer the call on either device. After, I can switch seamlessly, throwing the call back and forth between the two.

I’m not sure if it’s required to have the Android version up and running ahead of time, but I usually do it this way to make sure the call gets registered on the phone if I plan to answer it on the PC.

While in the call on the PC, I locate the call details on the Android device, and tap and hold. Then I can join the call. The call jumps to the phone and hangs up on the PC. The reverse works as well.

I’m not sure yet whether this would work if each device was on a separate network. I’ve only tried it with both on my home wifi.