[sf-lug] mics and webcams (was Meeting notes for SF-LUG Jit.si meeing of 2022-05-01)

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Mon May 2 09:02:28 PDT 2022

Rick Moen writes:
> Quoting Bobbie Sellers (bliss-sf4ever at dslextreme.com):
> > Well I was on time to the meeting but through-out my
> > microphone was out of action and nothing I could do restored
> > its function.
> I get a _lot_ of use, for A/V meetings and otherwise, out of one of
> these, a CMTECK G006 USB microphone:
> https://www.ebay.com/itm/384858970058

Early in the pandemic I purchased a Samson Go mic, which worked
very well for me, though it's a bit more expensive than the G006,
around $25. Plug and play with Linux (subject of course to the
whims of PulseAudio and what device it decides to make the default).

I've also used cheap wired cellphone earbud+mic and they work fine.
At least for modern laptops, you want the kind with a 4-conductor
mini phone plug, like https://www.ebay.com/itm/373968000489
(I'm not endorsing that particular product, it just showed up first
in a search for phone earbud mic when sorting by price, and it has a
good picture of the plug).

But a few months ago I bought a Logitech c920 webcam, because the
built-in camera in my ThinkPad Carbon X1 is terrible in low lightl
Now I'm using the mic that built into the c920 because it's so
darned convenient to have webcam and mic both on the same USB plug.
No one has complained about my audio or said "You used to have good
sound, but now you sound terrible", so I guess the mic is okay.

When I was researching webcams, I found a lot of very mixed reviews
for the c920: some people loved it, but a lot of people complained
of constant disconnects/reconnects. Most of the webcams I was
looking at had similar comments in their reviews, so I decided I
would take the chance, and return it if it didn't work. Indeed, the
first time I used it, I had that problem of frequent disconnections.
But I decided to try it again before giving up, and the second time,
it worked perfectly through a 2.5-hour meeting.

The difference? The first time, I was on the sofa running on battery
power. For the second meeting, I was at my normal desk, plugged in
to A/C power. I guess the camera requires more power than the CX1
supplies when running on batteries. It works fine when either
plugged directly into one of the laptop's USB ports when the laptop
is plugged in, or plugged in to a powered USB hub.

> Of course, if your problem lies at the software level, switching mics
> won't help.

Bobbie has had working audio at previous meetings, so I suspect
her problem is software. But I agree with Rick that

> Having a spare, known-good mic on hand would permit using the same sort
> of logic to eliminate one suspect category or the other (software or
> hardware), narrowing the possibilities greatly.

Even if it's just a $2 earbud+mic, it's good to have options.


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