Managing Video Chat Audio Quality- Acoustic Echo

Managing Video Chat Audio Quality– Acoustic Echo There are a number of device (microphone/speaker) issues that can affect audio quality when video chatting in a “Hands-Free” mode.  The most common problem is Acoustic Echo.   To diagnose and fix your specific causes Jell suggests you try the following:

  1. First, determine who in the meeting is CAUSING the echo.  If the echo you hear is yourself, then you are not the problem.  The person on the vChat who asks “What echo?”  is the source.  The echo you hear is caused by your voice being picked up by another party’s  microphone that is being generated by that party’s speakers and is being sent back to you.  So the next set of suggestions are for the party that is causing the echo.
  2. Reboot–  A good start is to reboot your PC without any external devices (Camera, microphone, speakers) attached.  Right click on the speaker icon and make sure Windows default setting is using the correct mic and speakers.
  3. Windows Setting Changes-  If you make any changes to your windows settings exit your browser and then re-open your browser and enter the video chat.
  4. Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) Software – The Windows operating system has echo cancellation technology built in and most video calling software either uses what Windows provides or builds on it.  Check to make sure AEC is turned on in Windows or in your device settings.  Our experience is that Windows 8 generally works fine.  In  Windows 7 look for the AEC setting in the audio device driver.   If you are still having problems consider purchasing an external webcam with a built in microphone and speaker. See item 6 below.
  5. AEC only has a chance to work when the mic input and speaker output go through the same central point.  If your mic input is a USB webcam, and your speaker output comes from the integrated sound card, it is virtually impossible for AEC software to tell what is echo and what is “good” input.  Also, some rooms just have too many inputs, outputs and bouncing sound waves for the software to “read” and adjust properly, so you need another solution.
  6. Use an external Echo Cancelling Microphone and Speaker Device (ECM) — An ECM is actually a microphone and speaker built into one unit.  Jell recommends the Logitech BCC950 which is a USB device that contains the camera, mic and speakers all in one unit.  It also includes a nifty remote control.   Other hands free devices work well too from manufactures such as Polycom or Clearline.
  7. Use Headset / Ear Buds – Using a headset takes your speaker output and feeds it directly to…your ears.  No sound coming out of the speakers, means no feedback into microphone and no echo on your call.
  8. Adjust input/output levels or location — I was on a call with an associate who was generating echo.  We reduced his mic sensitivity and the echo went away.  Similarly taking the speaker volume down can mean the speakers aren’t loud enough to feed back into the mic and thus no echo.   Another strategy, is to move the mic relative to where the speakers are.  Moving the mic away from the speakers can help  eliminate an  echo.
  9. Windows Listen Option– Under the microphone properties in Windows 7 on the Listen tab there is an option “Listen to this device”. Try turning that off and the echo might go away.
  10. Bandwidth – If you are experiencing issues such as delayed video images or delayed speech, then your router may be having an issue.   An associate who works out of his home with a Comcast internet connection occasionally needs to reboot his router to restore optimum speed.
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