Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 (aka Communicator) has made it easier to work with a variety of different audio and video devices.  In majority of the cases, if you simply attach a device to the computer, Communicator automatically detects your new device and selects it as the preferred device if it is more capable than the other devices already plugged into the system.

In case you do need change a device selection or if you simply want to test and tune your audio and video devices for program sounds and telephony (phone calls), you can do so from the Set Up Audio and Video wizard as described in this Office Online article

But, if you are still unable to configure your devices just the way you want them using the wizard, following top 10 device troubleshooting tips and tricks might help you.

1. I recently plugged in a new device and now my device settings in Communicator are changed. How do I prevent this from happening again?

Check to make sure that you have the following Windows hotfix installed on your system. This hotfix ensures that the selected default playback and recording devices in the operating system do not change when you plug in a new device. Once you install this hotfix, adjust the default playback and recording devices from Sounds under the Control Panel of the operating system. For these changes to reflect in Communicator, you will need to exit and restart the application.

Windows Vista:
Windows XP:

If you have this hotfix and you are still noticing that your device settings do not persist after reboot or after you attach new devices, you can select a custom telephony device or custom speaker and microphone devices in Set Up Audio and Video wizard. Any device that is not listed as “Default” is a custom choice. Once you specify a custom device, Communicator will turn off the automatic device selection algorithm and preserve your custom device selection, even if you detach the device from your computer and re-attach it later. This will surely prevent your device settings from changing automatically when you plug-in a new device.

2. After I plugged in my USB telephony device, my music is also getting played on it. How do I configure my computer such that my USB telephony device is only used by Communicator and my music is always played out of my system speakers (or my headset)?

Music from your computer and sounds from programs other than Communicator are played on the default playback device of the operating system. Change your default playback device to your computer speaker (or your headset) from Sounds under Control Panel of your operating system.  Also ensure that you have installed the hotfix that I mentioned earlier in the blog post.

For example, in Figure 1 below, I have selected GN 2000 USB headset as the default playback and recording device in the operating system. I have selected Plantronics Audio 1100M USB handset as the default communications (telephony) device.

Figure 1: Sound settings in the operating system

Restart Communicator to let the changes take effect. Go to Set Up Audio and Video Wizard to ensure that your USB telephony device is selected as your preferred handset/headset and as your preferred speakerphone for Communicator.

3. When I’m in a call or a conference, other people tell me that they are hearing their own voice echoed back. Is there something that I can do to resolve this?

Yes, if others are hearing echo and you are not, the problem is likely with the device setup at your end. See if you are using a phone or a device that is Optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator – these devices are tested to provide a high quality user experience (see Kunal’s earlier post).  If you don’t have one, make sure that you have selected the speaker and microphone of the same handset or headset that is attached to your computer.  If you have a setup where you are using the computer speakers for incoming audio and a sensitive in-built microphone (or a microphone on a webcam) for outgoing audio, you are likely to cause echo because the computer speakers will feed the incoming audio into your microphone.  If possible, I recommend using an optimized communication handset or headset and I recommend avoiding a custom setup for telephony with Communicator.


4. How do I change my microphone and speaker after joining a conference call or after answering an incoming call?

Communicator provides a few ways for you to change your devices in the middle of the call without needing to end the call.

  • You can launch Set Up Audio and Video wizard under Tools menu from the conversation window and change your selected telephony (phone) device or your microphone/speaker during a conversation without causing an audio glitch on either end – see Figure 2 below.

    Figure 2: Entry point for Set Up Audio and Video wizard from the conversation window

  • You can also attach a new device or detach an existing device from your computer in the middle of a call.  The current call is automatically put on hold, preventing the audio from your private call from blasting out uncontrollably from a speakerphone. Once you resume your call, your new device will be used. 
  • If you use a custom handsfree device configuration often, you can select it in the Set Up Audio and Video wizard before your call.  For example, I frequently select my computer speakers and microphone from my webcam as my handsfree setup along with my headset as my preferred telephony (phone) device.  This enables a speakerphone toggle button in the call controls in the conversation window – see Figure 3 below – that I can click to switch audio seamlessly between my headset and my selected handsfree configuration during a call.  
  • Figure 3: Speakerphone toggle button in the conversation window

    5. I use a headset in my shared office space and I do not hear my phone ring when I’m not wearing my headset. What setup should I use to ensure that I don’t miss an important call?

    If you use a headset or another telephony handset without a speakerphone for your phone calls, for example GN 2000, you can still select another set of speakers, for example your computer speakers, to be your ringer device from the Sounds page of the Set Up Audio and Video wizard – see Figure 4 below. In this configuration, you will hear the incoming call ring on your computer speakers but the audio during the call will still be on your headset.

    Figure 4: Handset/Headset and Sounds page in Set Up Audio and Video wizard

    If you are a heavy headset user, you can optionally select your headset as your handsfree device from the Speakerphone page of Set Up Audio and Video wizard.  With this setup, when you click to start a new call or when you click on the incoming call notification to answer the call, the audio from your call will be played on your headset and not on your computer speakers. Communicator users who work in a shared office space have found this configuration especially useful.

    6. Why don’t I see the Handset or Headset page in Set Up Audio and Video wizard some times?

    The Handset or Headset page in Set Up Audio and Video wizard is only available when there’s a Human Interface Device (HID) telephony device attached to your computer.  Handsets or headsets with a speaker, a microphone, and a button for starting and ending calls are referred as HID telephony (phone) devices.  When selected as the preferred device for telephony in Communicator, this type of device plays a dial-tone when you take it off-hook to make a new call.

    7. I have a headset and a handset both attached to my computer, but the button for starting and ending calls on my headset doesn’t work with Communicator. 

    If you have more than one Human Interface Device (HID) telephony devices attached to your computer, Communicator will use the device that you select as your preferred one in the Handset or Headset page in Set Up Audio and Video wizard.  If this preferred device is your handset, then buttons to start and end call on your headset will not function with Communicator. You may still hear audio from your headset if you selected it as your handsfree device.  Unfortunately, Office Communicator 2007 R2 is not optimized to work with multiple HID devices simultaneously attached to the computer so I recommend avoiding this setup.

    8. Does Communicator let me use one set of devices when I’m working on my laptop at the office and another set of devices when I’m working on my laptop at home?

    Yes, Office Communicator automatically detects and selects the devices from the set of devices that are attached to your computer at any given time. This essentially eliminates the need for you to select a device profile per location.

    9. How do I use Microsoft RoundTable device (aka PolyCom CX5000) with Office Communicator? 

    Simply attach the RoundTable device to your computer running Communicator using a USB cable. If you have not specified custom device settings under Set Up Audio and Video wizard, Communicator will automatically select the RoundTable as the preferred audio and video device.

    Note that Office Communicator 2007 R2 only sends/receives the active speaker video from the RoundTable device and does not send/receive the panorama video.  You will need to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting to send/receive panorama video from the RoundTable device.

    10. I was listening to some music from my computer when I got a call.  Do I have to scramble and mute the music before I answer the call on my phone?

    Communicator automatically pauses Windows Media Player application when you receive an incoming call so that you can hear the ringing and take the call.  Once the call ends, your music automatically resumes.

    Another noteworthy feature in Communicator is that it automatically unmutes your system speakers for a call so that you don’t have to rush to unmute your system speakers before answering an incoming call or before making a new call.

    If you have a question about device selection and tuning in Communicator or if you simply have other tips and tricks to share with me and others, feel free to respond to this blog post.  Cheers!

    Ankit Tandon

    Published Monday, May 18, 2009 11:00 AM by octeam