My ear buds keep auto muting themselves

I’ve been using my Jabra Elite 85t ear buds with my Macbook Pro during conference calls in Google Meet for the last 6 months without any problems, until I upgraded to macOS Monterey. Now, they will randomly auto-mute themselves during a call.

I might be in the middle of talking, and suddenly in my ear I’ll hear a voice saying “Muted”, and the ear buds will have automatically muted themselves. I touch the bud to unmute, and seconds later they automatically mute again. It makes them unusable.

Jabra aren’t much help with the issue, as they claim not to support using their ear buds with computers. They say their products are only designed to work with mobile phones and tablets. Here’s their boiler-plate response to anyone that complains of the problem:

Chrome Auto Gain

So I think I’ve found the problem. For some reason Google Meet – or rather the Chrome browser – is automatically adjusting the microphone input volume (or ‘gain’), and when it goes below about 10% or so the Jabra ear buds are automatically muting themselves.

I found this out when I manually moved the ‘Input volume’ slider around in the Sound settings on my Macbook:

MacOS Sound settings

When setting the input volume below 10% I hear “Muted” and when I drag it above 10% it says “Unmuted”.

So how do I stop Google Meet or Chrome or MacOS automatically adjusting the input volume?

Zoom workaround

In some conferencing apps like Zoom, there’s an option in the setting to turn it off. In the ‘Audio’ section of the settings, it is possible to disable the option to ‘Automatically adjust microphone volume’:

Zoom audio settings

Slack workaround

If you’re using Slack to make calls, then there’s also an option in the settings for ‘Enable automatic gain control’ that you can disable:

Thanks to Philippe Cohen for this information!

Disable Automatic Gain Control

After some research I came across someone recommending a Chrome browser extension called Disable Automatic Gain Control. It’s a simple extension that (as the name suggests) disables the automatic gain (i.e. the input volume) of the Chrome browser for whichever pages you say it can work on. So I can enable the extension to work on just the Google Meet site.

Disable Automatic Gain Control browser extension

I did some testing I found that the browser extension sadly doesn’t work for me – but your milage might vary.

For me the input volume still keeps moving around mid-call and auto-mutes when it gets very low. And indeed, now the output volume is now causing problems. Whenever I take the ear buds out of their case to reconnect them, the output volume is set at 0%, so I can’t hear anything until I manually drag it a reasonable volume.

I can’t spend every work call having the Sound system preferences open on my Macbook to correct the input and output sound – so for now I’ve had to abandon using the Jabra ear buds, and have resorted to moving back to using a wired headset (also manufactured by Jabra) that works without me having to worry about it.