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Skype sound problems

How to diagnose and fix Skype sound problems

Skype sound problems - what do you do if there is no sound at all ?

The last time that you used Skype on your computer, everything was working perfectly, but this time, you switch the computer on, Skype starts up (as normal), everything looks OK so, you dial, but when you speak, you get either, no sound at all or, you can't hear them or, they can't hear you - however this problem identifies itself, it is without doubt, one of the most frustrating problems to be experienced - what the heck has gone wrong?
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Skype sound problems - just whose fault is it?

The first thing that you ask yourself - Who used the computer last? The first thing that you think - something must have been changed or, the computer wasn't closed down properly! The first thing that 'he' says - It wasn't me !

Skype sound problems - fix it yourself !

Before you reach for the telephone number of the 'nice' computer-man that calls round to fix your computer problems, STOP! You may not need to. You may be able to save some money by fixing the problem yourself. In fact, nine times out of ten, fixing the problem is probably going to be pretty easy - the hard part is working out what is wrong and what has caused the problem in the first place and if possible, making sure that it doesn't happen again !
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Ask a question about Skype sound problems

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Skype sound problems - call quality

Improve the quality of your Skype calls by changing the way you speak and by setting your equipment up correctly.
Change the way you speak
During a Skype call, sound travels two ways - there and back. Voices are digitised at both sides and forwarded to the other party. When bandwidth is plentiful, voices can travel in both directions simultaneously, in other words, you can talk over each other (full duplex). Sometimes however, bandwidth is in short supply and there is only enough to allow sound in one direction at any time. Speak over each other and one of you will not hear what the other one is saying. If this is the case, one way that you can improve the quality of the call, is to refrain from talking over each other, say what you want to say and then wait silently for the other caller's response. If you have ever used a walkie talkie radio, you will know that you have to press a button to speak and then, let it go when you have finished speaking then, listen to what the person at the other end is saying. If you are having Skype sound problems and it is because there is a shortage of internet bandwidth, you can use the same technique to improve the quality of your Skype calls.
Background noise
When making a Skype call, any sound that is picked up by the microphone is digitised, wrapped up in a data packet and sent. This uses internet bandwidth that needn't be used and, if there is a shortage of bandwidth at the time that you are making a Skype call, any back ground noise uses up valuable resources. Making sure that there is no back ground noise when you are making a Skype call is another simple way that you can vastly improve the quality of your Skype calls so, switch that TV/radio off and close the window before you make a call.
Setting your equipment up correctly
If you are using a Skype telephone of some sorts, chances are, it is set up correctly and not giving you any problems. If you are using a separate microphone and speakers to make your Skype calls, position the speakers away from the microphone otherwise the sound coming from your speakers will be picked up by the microphone and re-transmitted. This, not only uses up valuable internet bandwidth as we already know, but the person that you are speaking to at the other side, hears what they have just said through their own speakers and their system suffers a lot of feedback and distortion. If you have moved your microphone away from your speakers and the people that you are calling still complain about hearing their own voice or, about feedback or, distortion, try purchasing a USB Skype telephone or, similar device to improve the quality of your Skype calls. A USB Skype phone works like a normal telephone and does away with the need to use your computer's speakers completely and so, eliminates this problem altogether.
When making a Skype call, sound is digitised, any sound picked up by the microphone uses resources so, make sure that there is no background noise.
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Skype sound problems - symptoms and causes

Skype sound problems - it may not be a problem with Skype

First things, first! It may not be a problem with Skype at all - this may just be a symptom not the cause of the problem, but let's quickly eliminate the possible causes of common Skype sound problems. The first thing to do is to simply close down and restart the computer and try again. You may be pleasantly surprised. If that doesn't work, check the sound settings in Skype - open Skype and from the menu at the top, click "Tools" and "Options" and then, "Audio Settings" from the menu on the left hand side. You are presented with three important settings - "Microphone," "Speakers" and "Ringing."
The "Microphone" audio settings relate to the microphone in whatever audio device you are using with Skype so, it could be a 'simple' microphone or, it could be the microphone in a 'fandangled' wireless Skype phone.
Look at the "Volume" slide selector and say something out loud - if your microphone is working properly, you should see the green bar move as you speak. If it doesn't, there may be a problem with the microphone.
If you are using a 'simple' microphone, the first thing to try is to unplug and re-plug it back into the computer and test again.
If you are using a USB telephone, a web cam or, some other device with a built in microphone, there may be a problem with the sound driver for the device (we will come to this later) and it may not be as simple as unplugging and then, plugging back in. In fact, this course of action is not recommended with certain devices.

Skype sound problems - sound driver settings

Before we take any further, more drastic measures, let's look at the sound driver settings that we are using in Skype. Click on the down pointing arrow to reveal the contents of the drop down menu and look at the available devices. If you are using a 'simple' plug-in microphone, it uses your computer's sound driver to work so, make sure that your computer's sound driver is selected in the "Microphone" drop down menu. There are many different sound drivers, but look for something like "Realtek HD Audio Input" or, Soundmax or, SIS or, something similar. Make your selection and test the microphone again whilst observing the "Volume slide selector."
If you are using a webcam with a built in microphone, it usually has its own driver and if so, it will be listed in the drop down menu and this is the one that should be selected in this field so, for example, if you are using a 'Logitech' webcam with its own built-in microphone, select Logitech (Quickcam) in this section.
Similarly, if you are using a plug-in USB phone, it usually has its own driver and if so, it will be listed in the drop down menu and this is the one that should be selected in this field so, for example, if you are using a Linksys CIT200, select Linksys. If you are using a simple USB phone, the driver may just be called USB telephone or even, USB device.
If you are unsure, make a note of the settings as they are, and then go ahead and make some changes before testing the device, to see if it is working.
The same rules apply for the "Speakers" and "Ringing settings so, work through each of them, making sure that the selected device is correct or, choosing the correct device, if it isn't.
Of course, the appropriate sound driver for the device that you are using may not be installed at all and if this is the case, you will not be able to get your device working. Check what make of device you are using and look for it specifically in the list. If it doesn't appear, it has to be installed.
If the driver that you need isn't there, before you can install it, you need to locate it.

Skype sound problems - your internet connection

Before I go any further, some readers may not have a problem with their Skype sound settings or, sound device configuration, but nevertheless, are still experiencing intermittent sound problems when they make a Skype call, something which the end-user typically labels, "bad reception" - this usually means, one or, the other, of the parties to a call, cannot hear the other party because segments of the conversation (words/sentences) are broken, garbled or, completely missing. This is something that English readers may refer to as "sounding like Norman Collier."
Usually, this means that somewhere along the line, there is either: data packet loss on one of the internet connections being used to make the Skype call or, that one or, the other of the internet connections being used, has not got enough bandwidth availabilty to carry the call. At this moment, some of you maybe thinking - "it can't be, I have an 8 Megabit internet connection," but please read on and let me explain.
The majority of Skype calls are made over long distances and usually, from one Country to another therefore, the data packets travel over many different networks to arrive at their destination and at certain times of day, the networks that the data packets travel over, get very busy with all types of traffic. If one of the networks that you data packets travels over is very busy with traffic, the amount of bandwidth that is allocated to your Skype call is less so, you may have a very fast internet connection and plenty of internet bandwidth available to you, but one or, more of the networks inbetween may not. Skype calls use internet bandwidth. Everytime you make a call, a certain amount of bandwidth is allocated to the call. The amount of bandwidth is determined by the speed of the internet connection at both sides of the call and how busy the networks are when the call is made.
Earlier in this article, I mentioned data packet loss and explained how, when you are making a Skype call, the data has to travel across many different networks to arrive at its destination. If you have followed the suggestions that I have made in this article and find that you are still suffering with Skype sound problems, it's time to check the connection between your computer and your modem/wireless router.
It doesn't matter whether you are connected to the internet via a wireless connection to a wireless router or, through a cable to a modem, you can easily test the connection between your laptop/computer and the device that connects you to the internet by running a ping test to the first IP address.
Before you can run any tests to determine whether there is a problem on your internet connection, you need to find out the IP address of your computer. How you do this depends on the operating system that you are running. We are going to assume that your computer is running a Windows' operating system (XP, Vista, 7)

Skype sound problems being caused by other software

If you have just installed a new program/application to your computer and suddenly experience Skype sound problems, the new program/application may have altered your computer's sound configuration. To cure the problem, you may have to look through the operating system's sound settings and change them back to how they were previously.

Skype sound problems - doing a system restore

If you have recently installed a new program/application and can't find the reason why you're suddenly experiencing Skype sound problems - it's a drastic step, but you do have the option of doing a system restore and taking your computer back to a date prior to installing the program/application that interfered with your sound settings. This will remove the offending program/application and return your sound settings back to normal.
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