Fix Logitech USB Webcam Skype/Teams distorted voice

For a long time one of my desktops had an issue, whereby, sometimes, when a Skype voice/video call is made, the other side hears distorted “chipmunk” voice, which sounds sped up and unintelligible. Hanging up and redialing always fixed the problem. A few online searches did not bring any info on this ussue, so I chalked it up to a bizarre inter-operability problem between Skype and that PC, and did not bother.

Eventually the problem somehow went away, then at some point, it started happening on a different system (which was running Win10 and not Win7), and suddenly not only Skype got affected, but also Microsoft Teams. The symptom was the same: “chipmunk voice” → reconnect → all good. Except now it was happening several times a day, and started getting annoying.

Then it dawned on me – I had recently started using a Logitech Webcam C160 on this system – exactly the same one that’s been used on the old Win7 setup a few years back. Even if I did not use the camera, I used the built-in mic of the C160 as the speech device. Sure enough – when switching to a different input device (like the built-in laptop microphone) – the issue went away.

Having figured out that the problem is in the realm of the Logitech webcam microphone, it was easy to find other people with similar issues, and a simple solution. Turns out the Logitech webcam mic has a bug – it reports to the OS that it is capable of recording at 48 KHz, while it actually only does 16 KHz. That explains the effect – playing audio at thrice the recorded rate is what makes everything sound high-pitched and distorted.

Somehow this bug happens whenever the mic is plugged in and initialized for the first time. Subsequent re-initializations without hot-plugging make the issue go away. In my case it started happening frequently, because the webcam was connected through a USB switch that I used on two computers – sometimes triggering multiple plug/unplug events in the same day.

Once the problem was root-caused, the fix turned out to be easy – I simply set the webcam mic to record at 16 KHz at all times, and the problem hasn’t happened since. Fortunately, in Windows at least, the sampling rate frequency persists across connect/disconnect. I have heard reports that it may reset following a Windows/driver update, though.

In my case, the problem was with the Logitech Webcam C160, but the issue was reported for other models as well, like the Logitech Webcam C270, so it probably affects a large subset of Logitech’s portfolio.

Summary of the workaround (Windows Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10)

  1. Open up the Sound control panel applet, either through the UI or by running mmsys.cpl from the Run dialog box / Command Prompt
  2. Go to the Recording tab, select the webcam microphone, then click Properties.
  3. In the Advanced tab, set the sampling rate to 16000 Hz.

On earlier versions of Windows, and on Linux, the sampling rate setting will be located elsewhere, but once changed, it should still work. In Linux, a patch aiming to solve the issue with a USB quirk has been introduced, although I have not checked its adoption rate.


1 thought on “Fix Logitech USB Webcam Skype/Teams distorted voice”

  1. Thank you for this writeup! Your characterization fits my experience to a T. I’ve implemented the fix on my home and work Win10 machines.

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