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Why is Skype’s Audio Quality Suddenly So Bad?

UPDATE on March 26, 2016
Just got off live chat with Microsoft. I responded with:

  1. Are you using the latest version of Skype? Yes, all of us. This typical request makes me think of this.
  2. Check your internet connection. I’m the host and have 75mbps up and 17mbps down (Comcast Business Class)
  3. Check your webcam, microphone and speakers. Non-issue since we all have first-rate gear.
  4. Check your computer. Also not an issue. As the host I have an iMac with 32GBs of RAM and a 4GHz Intel Core i7.

Then she asked me to uninstall and reinstall Skype. I used CleanMyMac 3 to do a quick, comprehensive uninstall and re-installed. Took just over one minute.

Obviously the Skype Test Call worked fine. The kicker? She has no way to test group calling which is our issue. So tech support was a waste of time.

skype-logoNearly every Saturday morning since 2008 my pals and I from Minnov8 have recorded our podcast using Skype. We’ve been using it for our tech podcast recording and are now up to 355 shows so far. But over the last three months Skype has become absolutely unusable. The hiss is horrible, dropouts rampant, and we gave up and went to Google Hangouts last week. That audio is stunningly perfect and pristine.

So why not just bag Skype and use Google Hangouts instead? The issue for us using Hangouts for recording is being able to feed various audio sources into that recording and also isolate each track. With Skype and two computers (my iMac and Macbook Pro) connected to a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 it was easy to do so AND record in real-time in Logic Pro (which really minimizes my time having to do a bunch of post-production on the audio). People were always amazed when they heard the quality we could achieve from a few people doing home recording, but we’re all geeks and know what we’re doing to achieve professional results.

Our ongoing question these last few months has been, “What the hell is going on with Skype and why does it sound like sh*t?” We suspect that it is due to Microsoft’s continual mucking around with the once-effective peer-to-peer audio routing to accommodate web and mobile calling, along with all of their other Skype-related initiatives. Here are just a few of the things they’ve rolled out in just the last couple of years:

too-loud2While none of that explains what has happened to the audio quality in peer-to-peer group calls, perhaps it’s no surprise that the computer-based desktop client—or Skype’s underlying, and formerly great, SILK-codec‘s audio quality—has taken a backseat to just entering a bunch of new markets and supporting a bunch of devices?

Or maybe they’ve widened the ‘backdoor’ for the NSA? Whatever the reason we’re intending to quit Skype forever because the quality of the audio is what matters to us and to our listeners! It’s just so bad that we are unwilling to continue wrestling with Skype.

What’s your experience?

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

Comments

  1. Skype has suddenly become awful and unusable for me too. In the last three weeks it’s become unbearable. I’ve been switching over to Zoom.

  2. I have recorded 345 podcast interviews using skype. I agree. In the last month the dropouts, cracks, and poor audio quality is unaccptable. I willmnot subject my listeners to it any longer. Skype has nonexistent customer service too. They don’t care!

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