One of the challenges of being an ESL tutor is to find a quiet place in your home or apartment to where you can conduct tutorials. Having a noise free environment to teach via Skype is vital but is not enough to have an interference free conversation. Sometimes the student on the other end of the call still hears buzzing or static noise.

I remember the first time I taught ESL class on Skype, I was using a laptop which I usually charge during the calls because of its poor battery life. I could hear the static noise when I checked my audio output using Skype’s “Echo / Sound Test Service”. Charging the laptop battery during calls and voice recordings really causes buzzing sounds.

Here are several steps you can do to eliminate or at least reduce that buzzing sound and background noise during Skype calls.

  • Use a ground lift plug or adapter for your laptop power supply to reduce static noise caused by charging the battery.
320px-Cheater_plug_edited
Image from Wikimedia Commons
  • To reduce background noise caused by other stuff like appliances, the sound from your neighbors, crying baby, barking dogs and bustling car sounds, you may change your Sound Control Panel settings on Windows. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Go to your “Control Panel”. (You may also right click the speaker like icon on your notification area then click “Recording Devices”, then continue with number 5 from these steps)
    2. Select “Hardware and Sound” (or just “Sound” depending on your viewer setting).hardwaresound
    3. Click “Sound”. sound
    4. Click “Recording” tab
      recording
    5. Right click on the enabled microphone you are using. mic1
    6. Click “Properties”.  mic2
    7. Click “Levels” tab. levels
    8. Set “Microphone” level to 100 miclevel
      and “Microphone Boost” to +10.0 dB 
      micboostor 0.0 dB if level of the background noise is too high. Click OK.
      micboost
    9. On Windows 10, you can also select “Enhancements” tab then enable “Noise Suppression” and “Acoustic Echo Cancellation”. (I don’t have this tab because I’m only using Windows 7).
  • Buy a headphone with noise cancelling microphone.
  • It’s a lesser pain if you can invest by owning a desktop computer instead of a laptop especially if you need to conduct classes for long hours.
  • For more serious soundproofing, you may want to invest by making your room quieter.
    • Cover your floors with rugs or carpet.
    • Cover your windows with drapes or at least thicker curtains.
    • Station your furniture against your wall like wooden bookshelf with lots of books, cabinet with lots of fabrics like towels, linens, or even clothes.
    • Make sure to position your audio equipment far from air-conditioners or electric fans and other noisy appliances and devices.
    • Do not use headphone and a loudspeaker at the same time.

Keep in mind that these tips will not totally eliminate the noise while making calls on Skype, but with proper execution it will help you achieve interference free calls and tutorials.

 

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