I just had a bizarre experience with Microsoft Teams, which I think I have finally figured out.
I had been in a Teams meeting for 50 minutes, when suddenly I couldn’t hear anyone speak. But I still got notification beeps whenever anyone posted in the chat, and my speakers were working fine.
I tried the obvious things, like leaving the meeting and rejoining the meeting, and restarting the laptop (a Surface Pro 6). But nothing helped. Eventually I realised that the audio settings in Teams had changed, but I didn’t recognize the device named there, Logitech something-or-other. This made no sense to me: there were no Logitech devices physically attached to my Surface. And anyway, why would Teams suddenly change its audio settings in the middle of a meeting? Still, everything worked fine again once I changed the Teams audio settings back to use the actual speakers attached to the Surface Dock.
I thought this might be one of those unsolvable IT mysteries. But since it was rather worrying, I decided to investigate a bit. My first guess was that there was some keyboard shortcut that affected Teams Settings that I might have triggered accidentally. A Google Search for that didn’t turn up what I was looking for. So … what exactly was that device again? It was a Logitech BT stereo Adapter. That really should have cleared it up for me, but maybe I’m tired! I didn’t remember ever attaching a device involving both Logitech and BT. Still, maybe looking up this device would reveal something.
Hah! A year or so ago I had bought a BlueTooth device to attach to my old HiFi system to allow me to play audio through the sort-of-OK speakers. That was the BT involved here. But why did my Surface suddenly connect to the device? And why did Teams change its settings without me doing anything? Well, here is what I think happened.
The Logitech device gets its power from a 4-way extension lead downstairs in the living room, which also has some of our decorative lights attached. Although the sockets have separate switches, it is tricky to remember which is which, and the easiest thing is to turn them all on. This causes the Logitech BlueTooth device to power up. Now this particular device has a curious feature (I remember warnings in the reviews) that disconnecting from it doesn’t work: it always tries to reconnect to any device it can find that it was previously paired with. That is usually one of our mobile phones, but I have occasionally used it with my Surface when I wanted to check the quality of an audio recording. I think I last did that in June 2020. Anyway, today someone caused the device to turn on in the middle of my meeting. It looked around and found my Surface Pro with BlueTooth enabled, and reconnected (after a 9 month gap). The surface audio settings didn’t change: I still got alert beeps through the speakers, and when I checked the audio levels they were fine. But Teams must have detected the new audio device and assumed that, since I had connected a new audio device, I must want to use that instead of my actual computer speakers. So, without telling me, Teams switched its audio output to the device downstairs (attached to the aux input of a HiFi that was on standby). That’s why I suddenly couldn’t hear anyone talking, but they could still hear me, and I still received the audible alerts whenever anyone posted in the chat.
I do still want to use my BlueTooth keyboard. But for now I have “removed” all BlueTooth audio devices from the Surface. I might consider reconnecting to the BlueTooth earphones, but only once I have tested to make sure that they don’t behave the same way as the Logitech BT Stereo Adapter!