I want my mic to transit sound clearly while using video programs like Skype and Zoom

Hi Zorin Community.

I am an art teacher and I need to connect with my students over Zoom. The only trouble is that when I talk on Zoom, my voice comes out very garbled. It also happens with the Google Groups video chat, Skype, etc. I can hear the sound from the person I am talking with fine. But they have trouble hearing me. I tested this with a friend, and heard the garbled sound for myself.

I am using a Lenovo Yoga 710 from 2016. It doesn’t seem to be the mic since when I record in Audacity, it sounds good. I was wondering if this is an issue with the Linux kernel or with Ubuntu? Lenovo issued a BIOS update, as well as an audio update in 2018. Not sure how to apply them since they are for WIndows.

I have been using Zorin for a couple years and love it, so I hope to get to the bottom of this issue.

Thank you for your help.

First things first- Check if you have both Alsamixer and Pulseaudio installed. If you have both - Bear in mind - it is better to have only One on some machines. They can, on occasion, conflict with eachother.

Applying a BIOS update:


The steps in the above guide may not be Exact for your Model- so we may need to adapt them.
You can ignore the wget command in the above guide- download the BIOS Update from the page you linked.
Then you can install the Bootable media extractor- though I believe it comes with Zorin preinstalled:

sudo apt install genisoimage

The guide suggests using blkid to find the USB and dd to write the media. However, dd can be a bit dangerous… You can plug your USB in and then use unetbootin

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gezakovacs/ppa

sudo apt install unetbootin

to write the bootable media to your USB using unetbootin, instead.
After that, reboot and boot into the USB.

After all of the above- we can try some troubleshooting steps. But… While it is not Princy Charming Shiny Professional, I prefer brutal honesty.
I have seen a Metric Ton of user posts lately, here and elsewhere, looking for help with Ubuntu and Ubuntu Derivatives and Mic- especially with Zoom. You are not alone and there may be bigger issues upstream.
Cross your fingers and plan for the worst. You may need a fallback plan.
Lenovo, Zoom and Ubuntu. All in one.

Lenovo is notorious for Mic issues with Zoom, even on Windows. Many users have less trouble on Windows, though- as Ubuntu is notorious for Mic troubles - and audio troubles.

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Thanks for your feedback, Aravisian. Good to know that there are lot of us Lenovo folx struggling with audio in Zoom, Skype, etc. I am thinking about how the Zorin grid would go down in schools with a bunch of used laptops not able to use video learning during a pandemic. I am going to be teaching from my tablet until this gets figure out. Do you think I should submit this zoom mic problem to Ubuntu or report it as a bug somewhere, just to add my vote to the pile?

Looking in Synaptic, I see that I do not have gnome-alsamixer installed. However, I have both Pulseaudio and Alsa-utils installed. Do you recommend uninstalling one or the other?

Thanks for the BIOS update tutorial link. I am trying to figure out if I am up to date or not, before going through the update. In the cli, I used “dmidecode” to find the following:

Getting SMBIOS data from sysfs.
SMBIOS 2.8 present.

Not sure if SMBIOS is referring to the same BIOS… ? Or if there is a way to see if I already have the updates (I purchased this off ebay in 2019 and all the lenovo updates happened in 2018).

If you have any other ideas for what could be wrong, I am open to suggestions. I have tried a few different mics and headsets already, and audio works fine on audio programs, it’s just Zoom/ SKype/ Google Groups/ any live video chat programs that results in garbling my voice.

Thank you.

A very reasonable question…
I have found no difference. This does not mean that there isn’t one, it means only that I am ignorant of it. But, I think most prefer Pulseaudio to be installed for access to ‘pavucontrol’.

SM refers to System Management - BIOS. Your version is 2.8 which in searching the web, appears to date to 2016.
BIOS on your machine will have a different version number.
Please use

sudo dmidecode | less

And look under “BIOS Information”. On mine, as an example, it reads:

BIOS Information
Vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
Version: P21-A3
Release Date: 05/22/2014
Address: 0xF0000
Runtime Size: 64 kB
ROM Size: 4096 kB
Characteristics:
PCI is supported
APM is supported
BIOS is upgradeable
BIOS shadowing is allowed
Boot from CD is supported
Selectable boot is supported
BIOS ROM is socketed
EDD is supported

For Lenovo, I am searching the web and finding version “1.08” to be the most recent.

My own opinion is that every voice should be heard. You never know which report will bear the clue, the piece to the puzzle needed to suss out the cause of an issue. Different voices bring different perspectives.
Plus, adding to the pile increases the weight of the pile drawing it more attention.

I think we are both in the same boat of needing to look around the web for help on this. Doing a search, I found some things:


This post deals with conflicting interactions between pulse and alsa and how she resolved them:

I really wish that other users had a Format to follow in titling and describing an issue. For example, in searching this particular problem, who knows where your solution may be buried within posts that title “Mic don’t work”.

Gnome alsamixer is just a GUI version of alsamixer. I find the terminal version of alsamixer much better. You wont have the gnome version, but should have the terminal version included as standard with Zorin.

Hi Aravision. Sorry, life got too busy for this and I started using a tablet for Zoom, but I am back. I took your advice to check for the BIOS info and it is 2.8 SMBIOS. See below for all the details.

dmidecode 3.1

Getting SMBIOS data from sysfs.
SMBIOS 2.8 present.
70 structures occupying 3566 bytes.
Table at 0x88AD9000.

Handle 0x0000, DMI type 0, 24 bytes
BIOS Information
Vendor: LENOVO
Version: 0GCN24WW(V1.08)
Release Date: 06/22/2018
Address: 0xE0000
Runtime Size: 128 kB
ROM Size: 6144 kB
Characteristics:
PCI is supported
BIOS is upgradeable
BIOS shadowing is allowed
Boot from CD is supported
Selectable boot is supported
EDD is supported
Japanese floppy for NEC 9800 1.2 MB is supported (int 13h)
Japanese floppy for Toshiba 1.2 MB is supported (int 13h)
5.25"/360 kB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
5.25"/1.2 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
3.5"/720 kB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
3.5"/2.88 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
:

I kept on running into issues with getting the BIOS updates. I was able to update sound through Wine. I think I would need to use Zoom for Windows in Wine then? At any rate, I have not figured out how to do the update. I wanted to install Windows and do the BIOS/ drivers update but when I made the USB install disk from the Windows ISO, it didn't work.

So I went to my local computer store that loves Linux. He said that updating the BIOS won't matter since it is written for the OS, which is Windows since Lenovo only does Yoga updates for Windows. So the latest Linux drivers are the solution to this problem. He said that the problem is that I am using ZORIN (gasp!) and seems to think that Zorin works better on older hardware, or that they aren't running the right version of ubuntu (which i thought it was using LTS, but maybe that doesn't matter, I'm a regular joe when it comes to computer stuff).

He said that vanilla Ubuntu or Mint will have code that is recently updated to work on newer hardware. He also mentioned that I could use a USB mic that has its own sound card, thus sidestepping the hang-up between Zorin and the Yoga in Zoom.

I am going to try Ubuntu and/or Mint to see if I can get my Yoga to work on Zoom for my students. I may come back to Zorin one day, but for now I need to distro hop a bit to see which (if any!) Linux is friends with my Yoga.

Thank you for your help @Aravisian - sorry it took me a minute to get back. I appreciate your knowledge share!

There may be an effect of translation, here.
BIOS or EFI updates are not "for Windows" nor "Windows specific."
Hardware on any computer must be able to process, then communicate those processes with Your Operating system. This is what drivers are for. Many pieces of hardware have their Operating System. An example is your Graphics card and your Motherboard. A network card. The Operating System of the motherboard is called the BIOS or the EFI.
It is true that the code written for particular hardware may be written in a way that is intended to communicate most effectively with Windows as Windows is the dominant system. Nvidia is notorious for this.
But this does not mean that BIOS updates or Firmware updates are "written for Windows". The BIOS Operating System and the Windows Operating System are two different OS's.
He is correct that the Drivers Matter. The Linux Kernel matters, as well.
I do not think it was his intention to mislead you or that he "did not know what he was talking about." Rather, it is a complex question with a lengthy answer and sometimes, this can get shortened to the point of inaccuracy.
Firmware and BIOS updates work with Linux all the time.
A BIOS or EFI update is released when something about the hardware code or communication needs repair - This is specific to that hardware's OS, not to the OS you choose to use to communicate with it.
And sometimes, Linux Developers must go in and patch things where our Hardware Manufacturers are less considerate of the differences between Windows and Linux.
Which brings us to:

Zorin 15 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.
This is true of other Ubuntu Derivatives including Linux Mint. I believe that Mint 18 or 19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04, whereas Linux Mint 20 Ulyssa, is based on Ubuntu 20.04. So, moving sideways to Mint will not help you at all (Assuming getting the latest Drivers and Kernel are the helpful solution) But, upgrading to a later version might.
Currently, Linux Mint 20 is released and I actually do have it installed on a partition of This Machine I am typing on now. And a week ago, I might have suggested you go that route without pause.
But Zorin 16, based on Ubuntu 20.04 is very soon ready to release and in this state, I have been testing Zorin 16 also on a partition of This Machine. Given a choice between Zorin 16 and Linux Mint 20; ... let's rephrase that to "I reckon that ain't a choice."
Zorin OS is not built for older hardware - But Zorin Lite is recommended for older hardware.
Distro-hopping will work for you if you are hopping along Ubuntu 20.04 derivatives, not just any Ubuntu or Ubuntu derivatives.

This sounds like a viable option.

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@Aravisian Your description of how the operating system of the motherboard is BIOS or EFI is really helpful. I appreciate you being patient with me and sharing your knowledge.

My lack of know-how and just learning experience to experience led me to roll the dice. I went ahead and installed Manjaro. The audio works great now, but it does not pick up the video from my built-in webcam.
It is good to know that a Zorin update is just around the corner. Maybe I will go back if I can't figure out this webcam issue in Manjaro.

You might try running this in terminal

sudo rmmod uvcvideo && sudo modprobe uvcvideo

then reboot and test your webcam.

@Aravisian Thanks!
I just tried and got this error:

rmmod: ERROR: Module uvcvideo is not currently loaded

hmm...

uname -a

What Kernel are you running in Manjaro?

Also can you relay the output of

modinfo uvcvideo | grep version

@Aravisian
Linux VDJART 5.9.16-1-MANJARO #1 SMP PREEMPT Mon Dec 21 22:00:46 UTC 2020 x86_64 GNU/Linux

version: 1.1.1
srcversion: EA1415EF0340BC6A0E5F39B
vermagic: 5.9.16-1-MANJARO SMP preempt mod_unload modversions

Can you run just

sudo modprobe uvcvideo

and relay the output from terminal here?

Terminal is not showing output to: sudo modprobe uvcvideo

Ok, when you run the above, it just sends to a new line with no output? Can you reboot and test your webcam? If it does not work, can you run the above modprobe, then without rebooting test it?

It rebooted in recovery mode! And for some reason I wasn't able to log in. I did a fresh install of Manjaro. I will keep you posted. I am doing all the updates.

The webcam was working and I went ahead and installed some other apps including Krita. After that, the webcam did not work. I uninstalled Krita, but that didn't work. At any rate, the webcam is currently not working. I hope an update comes through to fix this.

Thank you for your help @Aravision.

That sounds intensely frustrating. The folks over at the Manjaro Forum are quite helpful. If they help you Solve, please update this thread so we have some pointers.

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