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At first I thought it was the sound chip on my motherboard, so I put in a Creative Audigy 2 ZS. The audio was certainly better quality, but just as quiet.

I rebooted today and the audio was very loud at the half-way mark like it should have been earlier. I decided to change the bass level in the sound properties and as soon as I moved it a pixel to the left, the sound got quiet like it was before.

So it's apparent that it's a software issue, not a hardware issue.

I'm wondering what could be causing this?

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Solved! Go to Sounds > Communications > And select "Do nothing".

Voila :)

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Great job finding the cause. +1 for answering your own question. – CharlieRB Nov 16 '12 at 13:50

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