A very easy and obvious thing, but if you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly recommend you do. Last week, I was looking for a new headphone set, an upgrade from the basic earbuds I usually use. Before spending money, I found one of my colleagues who had the same model I wanted, a low end Sennheiser. I borrowed it for a few days, connected it to my laptop and found the initial sound underwhelming.
For the first time I looked at the sound options on my laptop and found some simple changes to the Playback Enhancements section that made a lot of difference to the sound quality without any change to hardware. Here is how you get to them.
From the desktop, go to Control Panel
Find and click on the Sound icon
You will then see a list of all the playback devices on your computer. for instance, in the image below, there are 3 devices with the active device (the one that is actually used by the computer) marked with a green tick mark (top one in the picture). Click on this icon. You will see a button marked Properties appear in the bottom right hand corner of the window just above the OK and Cancel buttons. Click on it.
You will now see the properties of that device. Notice on the top, there are 4 tabs named: General, Levels, Enhancements and Advanced. Click on the one marked Enhancements.
See the options available:
Play around with these to see how your sound gets affected. Needless to say, different options work best depending on what you listen to. For example, when listening to instrumental music, Bass Boost can make a big difference. On the other hand, you may want to turn it off if you are listening to dialogue or a podcast. For dialogue, try Loudness Equalization, it avoids a very common problem of different speakers or dialogues coming at very different volume levels causing you to miss some words.
I have seen that the exact options available differ from computer to computer depending on the sound card, try and see what you have.
One more thing, if a YouTube video was played when I activated/deactivated some enhancement, it would suddenly go silent. I would have to restart my browser to get it to work properly.
Also, there are a lot of enhancements for your microphone to improve the sound quality during those pesky conference calls. From the 3rd picture in the series above, go to the Recording tab to play with them.