The Mystery of Random Auto-Volume Decrease

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Technoloy
Tags: , ,

Update: 2014.05.24 It looks like a culprit to the volume-lowering behavior is none other than Steam. Woke up this morning to this:

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There I was enjoying some alone time watching videos on my Satellite S40t, when suddenly the volume gets knocked down for no apparent reason.

I never had this issue, or at least never noticed it before since I tend to just use earphones whenever I want to watch something. Lately, I’ve been viewing the movies with the ear sets unplugged and listening to the sound directly out of the laptop speakers (Satellite S40t audio is phenomenal, btw).

That’s when I started noticing it. Randomly, the audio would diminish. Still audible, but it’s really annoying and a tad bothersome. I suspected bad drivers, hardware problems, even VLC itself.

The culprit? A seemingly innocuous little setting nestled deep in the audio settings that Windows (using 8.1 here) helpfully enables by default. Fastest way to access the setting is to right-click the speaker icon on the Notification Area, select Sounds and then click the Communications tab. By default, this is set to Reduce the volume of other sounds by 80%.

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I don’t know what triggers it but Windows seem to think that there is some communication activity going on at random points and decides to swoop in and adjust the sound of my video playback. Setting it to “Do nothing” does the trick.

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