Caller Sounds Underwater? How to Test and Fix It | VoIP Phone Systems

Sean Lund-Brown

Although modern VoIP systems offer plenty of advantages over traditional business phone systems, they also come with the occasional hiccup. Fortunately, for as many resources as you’ll find about why you should be using VoIP, you will find just as many tools and troubleshooting guides to make sure that you’re making the most of your VoIP and not letting issues like audio quality get in the way. 

Muffled audio, or a caller sounding like they’re underwater on the other end, could be the result of a lack of appropriate Internet speed. This could be because the network can’t provide enough speed, or because a loose connection or faulty piece of equipment is affecting the connection. 

If you think you have muffled audio issues, you’ll probably hear things like:

  • Callers that sound like they’re in a tunnel
  • Calls that are garbled or have an echo
  • Inbound or outbound audio loss
  • Audio delay or latency

Several issues come from experiencing these problems on your VoIP network. Most of them revolve around call quality and being able to deliver the level of service that your audience deserves. For example, if there’s an echo, you may not be able to understand the caller. If they sound underwater or garbled, they may get frustrated trying to explain what they’re saying because you can’t hear them. 

And it’s not like a personal call—you can’t just call them back and brush it off like it’s no big deal. If your business calls are choppy, sound underwater, or otherwise have technical audio glitches, your customers are going to notice. So, what can you do?

Test the integrity of the network

The first step in your troubleshooting journey should be to test the integrity of your network connection. You can do this through speed tests and network testing tools offered by your VoIP provider or your Internet service provider (ISP). There are also third-party speed tests and tools you can use online to check your network, IP address, and other details if your provider doesn’t offer them or if you want to use something different. 

You’ll need to make sure that your network is up to par with speed, bandwidth, connectivity, and latency (less is better) when running these tests. If anything is off, it could be impacting your call quality and resulting in the caller sounding like they’re underwater or far away. There are also manual ping tests that you can do using the command prompt from your desktop computer if you have the know-how and want to do it yourself. 

Usually, though, it’s just as easy (and effective) to use the tools that already exist to help you test your network to determine if there’s a problem. If you realize that you need more speed or bandwidth than you currently have, you might need to contact your ISP to talk about changing your plan. Or, you could shop for other business-class Internet plans that will suit your VoIP needs. 

Double-check equipment and connections

The hardware connections are the next thing on your list. Even the slightest loose wire or extra router that’s unnecessary can create a lot of quality issues on your calls. VoIP networks work best with fewer connections and the most direct routing possible. You’ll want to check all of the routers, modems, ethernet cables, and other connections on your network. This includes computers, as well as the connections going to them. 

Reset your modem as the first line of defense against latency, echoes, and callers sounding underwater. Sometimes, a simple network reset can go a long way. While you’re inspecting all of your equipment, look to see if there are places where you can shorten the journey or eliminate waypoints that could be slowing your network connection down. 

Finally, check the specs of your hardware. How old are your devices? Does your computer need to be upgraded to handle the VoIP bandwidth and speed requirements? Perhaps your modem or router is outdated and needs to be replaced. Although it’s usually one of the last things you’ll want to consider, it may just be time to get new networking hardware or upgrade your computers. 

Use online tools to run speed tests 

Today, several different tools and sites have resources, such as those offered by DNS Stuff, to help you test your network and figure out what is going wrong. As mentioned above, you can use these tools to check things like:

  • Bandwidth
  • Network speed
  • Latency
  • DNS records
  • IP addresses
  • Etc.

Some of these testing tools will identify the problems. Others will identify the issue and offer solutions or suggestions to help you resolve your call quality issues. Depending on the tests you want to run, there are different sites available. Some of the best places to check out for free testing tools include:

  1. ZD Net
  2. FreeOla
  3. SolarWinds
  4. Speed Test
  5. Ping-test.net

You can also do a simple Google search to find other business VoIP network testing tools and resources to help you determine why your call quality isn’t what it should be. 

Or, rely on someone else to answer the calls and handle any VoIP troubleshooting on their end

Perhaps you don’t have the time (or energy) for dealing with VoIP issues like underwater calls and choppy conversations. If you’re sitting around trying to field calls all day, what else is getting done? Instead, consider partnering with the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, who can field calls and live website chats at any time of day or night. 

Not only that, but our team will assist with all of your lead intake, appointment scheduling, and other administrative needs. Still working on getting the leads in the first place? Ask about our outreach campaigns and outbound sales and support solutions that can help you, too. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your business communications. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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