1. Do any of you that are struggling with this use a USB antenna (for a mouse, game controller, etc.) on a regular basis? I do and I wonder if that might be a complicating factor.
2. Which "User Scenario" do you tend to use (if you use Dragon Center)? I keep mine on Balanced and wonder if reduced volume is a "feature" of not using Extreme Performance.
This time, I have proof of the audio reduction: I downloaded an app on my phone that logs decibels over time, and was able to record (1) the sudden drop in volume overall, and (2) the difference in volume between the left and right speakers. 3-4 dB difference in both cases; mathematically that's a 50% volume decrease.
It's a shame that reverting to an earlier Realtek driver didn't help me. I'm open to any other suggestions. Meanwhile I'll have to keep the speakers at close to max volume at all times, and keep the output settings imbalanced so they actually are balanced.
The last time I tried Chat Support, I got a manager who accused me of lying about all the stuff I've done to try to fix this. "Others who have had the problem you described got if fixed when they did the things you claim you have." Yeah, and if those had worked for me, one round of which was done live with a technician that you have the transcript/recording from, or if the RMAs (where they found issues, both times) had succeeded, I wouldn't be wasting my time with you. The manager also tried to claim I'd installed something other than Windows "because it was in the notes". Yeah, no, those notes are wrong and I'll send you MS's online Windows Update logs to prove your technician screwed that up, if I have to.
Warranty expires on December 7 so I'm going to have to send it in for a third RMA before that. I've tried absolutely everything suggested here, by MSI, or in online reading. Nothing's worked and MSI just keeps suggesting I do the things I already have proven don't solve it. Tried to get them to read this thread or one of the many others on the same topic on their website, but the same guy who accused me of lying also said "30 people having the same problem doesn't warrant an investigation since most people aren't experiencing it". And how do you know what percentage of users with these models are experiencing this, when you didn't look up RMA history, forum threads, customer complaint logs, or info on how many people have these models?
In short, I have a machine I paid $2000 for that doesn't work as advertised, MSI keeps trying the same solutions that have already been proven to fail, I've been without my laptop for 3 of the 11 months I've owned it with more to come, and they're just going to run the warranty out without resolution. After I tried to get them to investigate the possible driver issue by reading this or other threads, or offer SOME solution which isn't a repeat of what's already failed, which they responded to by calling me a liar. I'll definitely be warning everyone I know away from purchasing from MSI, and if MSI fails to back up their warranty after this last chance, I'll be pursuing more serious avenues.