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voip audio qualityVoIP How Does Skype Work? [Technology Explained] How Does Skype Work? [Technology Explained] Read More , or voice over IP, can save you a lot of money. Services like Skype offer free calls overseas to other computers and really cheap rates to overseas phones.

That’s all well and good, but frequently using such services results in complaints on the other end about poor VoIP audio quality. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic: in all likelihood this is a problem you can solve easily. You just need to tweak your home network, and your computer, to use VoIP to its fullest potential.

Again, don’t panic; it’s easier than it sounds. Take a deep breath and we’ll go over a few things you can try.

Change Your P2P Settings

Most ISPs provide a much better rate for downloading than they do for uploading. This is important, because when you’re having a conversation on Skype or any other VoIP service you’re depending on your uploading capabilities quite a bit.

If you like downloading things from peer to peer networks such as bittorrent, you’re also uploading quite a bit. High upload rates on such services could be hogging bandwidth you need to ensure high VoIP audio quality, causing delays in your conversation or even distortion.

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voip audio quality

As such, anyone who makes use of both P2P and VoIP should seriously consider capping their upload rate in their file-sharing application of choice; you’ll find the option to do so in the network settings panel of most peer to peer programs.

I myself cap uploads at 30 kb/s, and find this leaves my calls sounding great without comprising my commitment to seeding one to one. Your sweet spot might be different, depending on the speed of your Internet access, so experiment (and post your findings below!)

Check Your Wireless Networks For Conflicts

You might not be getting all you possibly could out of your wireless network. If not, the VoIP audio quality of conversations made using that network will certainly be compromised.

One common problem with WiFi setups, particularly in urban areas, is using a saturated channel. WiFi uses radio waves, and too many networks on the same frequency can lead to a slow connection…and lag in VoIP conversations.

voip audio issues

Free web app WiFi Stumbler can show you how many networks are on a given channel, meaning it’s the perfect way to find out if this problem is affecting you. If your channel is crowded simply access your router’s configuration tools and change the setting to an empty one. Not only will your VoIP work better…your Internet will be faster in general.

Secure Your Wireless Network

voip audio issues

Speaking of your wireless network: is it secured? If not your neighbours could be using up all your uploading capability without you even realizing it. It’s admirable to want to share your Internet access with the community, but if you want to make high-quality phone calls over your internet connection it might be time to raise your shields.

Access your router’s configuration tools and enable WPA encryption. For more detailed information check out Aibek’s article How To Secure Your Wireless Network How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection Read More .

Check Volume Levels

voip audio quality

Still having trouble? The problem might not be your Internet connection. Check your computer’s volume levels and ensure your microphone is loud enough. It may seem obvious, but you’d be amazing how many times I heard complaints about being hard to hear only to realize my mic settings were too low. It never hurts to check!

Get A Better Microphone

Still have problems? Your microphone might not be ideal for what you’re trying to do. Many microphones built into laptops, for example, pick up not only those sitting directly in front of the computer but also a lot of background noise as well. White noise you don’t even notice may be interfering with your call, making you hard to understand.

The best fix for this is to get a better microphone. Headsets tend to work quite nicely at not picking up white noise, and can be easily found at any electronics store.

Conclusion

VoIP can be a very cheap alternative to a traditional phone line, particularly if you tend to make a lot of long-distance calls. Ensuring that you sound good can take some tweaking, but it’s typically worth it.

Do you have any tips to share with frustrated VoIPers? Type them in the comments below and help reduce any suffering that might be out there. Also feel free to chime in if you have any questions; the MakeUseOf community is a helpful one.

  1. Valer
    September 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    There is also the option of using add-on to improve audio quality. A popular add-on that improves audio quality and in addition records the calls is provided by SoliCall (http://www.solicall.com). And it is free.

  2. Valer
    September 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

    There is also the option of using add-on to improve audio quality. A popular add-on that improves audio quality and in addition records the calls is provided by SoliCall (www.solicall.com). And it is free.

    • jhpot
      September 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

      Nice. I'm going to look into this one...

  3. Sumflow
    August 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

    How to check volume levels:

    http://www.skype.com/intl/en-u...

  4. Sumflow
    August 16, 2010 at 7:48 am
  5. Sumflow
    August 16, 2010 at 2:15 am

    But the easiest thing, the simplest thing, is to leave your microphones volume up all the way all of the time. Call Echo in Skype to test your sound. You can control the actual volume by looking at the sound input, and moving in closer or further way from the mic until you get what you want.

    Turning up the volume on the mic is a genius idea of course, but getting a more sensitive mic can make your life so much easier. When speaking you pass vibrations into the air. If a sensitive object vibrates at close to that rate, with a small amplifier an electric current can be created. If you can find a way to covert this signal from a vibration, to a digital current, then you can feed it into the computer. The machine only takes in digital. This is what a USB Mic does. If this is done inside of the machine, then the internal mic should be picking up the sound of your computer also.

  6. Sumflow
    August 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Maxing out the volume level, and a Blue Snowball USB Microphone, solved the problem of people having a hard time hearing me on Skype. Now I can talk normally seated at the computer and people can hear me just fine, without a headset. I use a Skype number as my only phone.

    • Sumflow
      August 16, 2010 at 12:15 am

      But the easiest thing, the simplest thing, is to leave your microphones volume up all the way all of the time. Call Echo in Skype to test your sound. You can control the actual volume by looking at the sound input, and moving in closer or further way from the mic until you get what you want.Turning up the volume on the mic is a genius idea of course, but getting a more sensitive mic can make your life so much easier. When speaking you pass vibrations into the air. If a sensitive object vibrates at close to that rate, with a small amplifier an electric current can be created. If you can find a way to covert this signal from a vibration, to a digital current, then you can feed it into the computer. The machine only takes in digital. This is what a USB Mic does. If this is done inside of the machine, then the internal mic should be picking up the sound of your computer also.

  7. 2ash ward
    August 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    The easiest way to improve voice quality is to set your modem, under "Quality of service", to reserve bandwith for voip applications. Worked like magic for me with Dynalink modem and my Linksys PAP2 phone adapter

  8. Dwoolrog
    August 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I´m going to get a headset. But just in case, how do I change my P2P settings?

  9. Dwoolrog
    August 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I´m going to get a headset. But just in case, how do I change my P2P settings?

    • jhpot
      August 9, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      That depends: what P2P programs are you using?

  10. @TechHerding (Dick Carlson)
    August 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I've also found it's important to shut off any little background bandwidth hogs -- including Outlook, Tweetdeck, and anything else that hops in from time to time and sucks up a goodly part of your bandwidth. That's often the reason that Skype call quality tanks at my house.

  11. anonymous
    August 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    From my experiences it's too issues 1.) slow internet and 2.) cheap webcam with a cheap microphone And I doubt my grand parents over seas know how to torrent.

  12. Ragmack
    August 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Ground breaking information. Now, why didn't I think of that!

  13. HandyTechTipper
    August 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I've found that using my good old DECT phone for VOIP makes it more convenient and improves call quality.
    See here for what I mean: http://handytechtips.blogspot....

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