A bad audio configuration on your computer might leave you wondering if there's an echo in the room. The computer's audio settings can create a feedback loop that repeats played audio through the system's recording devices and plays back the audio a second time. Computers with pass-through playback enabled can experience the echo error even if there's no microphone connected to the computer, if the internal recording device is erroneously playing back audio. Additionally, sound processing effects and bad wiring can cause playback echo.
Update the Drivers and Settings
The software that operates audio devices doesn't always work correctly. Updating the sound card's drivers to the latest version may eliminate any audio playback irregularities. Windows Update is a mostly automatic service that can keep drivers up-to-date. However, if Windows Update isn't pulling the latest sound card drivers, they can usually be found on the manufacturer's support website. The Windows troubleshooting tool may also be able to diagnose and fix echo problems. You can troubleshoot audio playback by opening the Control Panel, selecting "Find and fix problems," choosing "Troubleshoot audio playback" and following the onscreen instructions.
Move Microphone Away From Speakers
Eliminating echo may be as simple as moving the microphone away from the computer speakers. If you frequently use the computer for audio recording, whether it's as complicated as multi-track music or as practical as making Skype calls, you may be accustomed to using pass-through audio to gauge sound quality. Pass-through audio plays back whatever sound is coming through the microphone or recording device through the speakers. Some Windows computers have latency in the feedback, which delays the microphone input playback by a second, contributing to a more dramatic echo effect.
Disable Pass-through Playback
Disabling pass-through playback may stop the echo. Pass-through playback can be added can be added with third party software: disable the software if you're experiencing echo. In Windows 7, Microsoft removed microphone-to-speaker volume control from the "Playback" devices menu. Pre-Windows 7 users can adjust the Microphone level by opening the "Sound" option on the Control Panel, selecting "Properties" on the playback device and using the sliders on the "Levels" tab to adjust or mute volume. You can also disable audio input devices to stop echo effects on the "Sound" option's "Recording" tab. Disable the microphone by right-clicking on the icon, selecting "Properties," choosing the "Levels" tab and clicking the speaker icon to mute the device. Unintended feedback from a line-in device can be disabled by toggling the "Listen to this device" option on the "Listen" properties tab menu.
Disable Speaker Effects
Audio enhancements can cause echo effects in speaker playback. Enhancements for the playback and recording devices can be turned off under the "Sound" menu found in the Control Panel. To disable effects, right-click on the audio device from the "Playback" or "Recording" tab, select "Properties," choose the "Enhancements" tab, check the "Disable all enhancements" box and click "OK." The echo can be caused by either or both of the playback and recording devices.
- HP Consumer Support: Resolving Microphone and Line-in Problems (Windows 8)
- Microsoft Windows: Windows Update
- Skype Support: How do I Adjust the Sound Settings on my Computer and in Skype (Windows 8 or Above)?
- Hotcomm: Troubleshooting FAQ: Microphone
- Download.com: Microphone Pass-through Emulator
- Creative Support: Muting Microphone Playback
- HP Consumer Support: Music or Sounds Are Distorted (Echo, Off Pitch, Sound Effects) (Windows 7)
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