Sound issues blight Clubhouse app but regulator says it is not blocked

App is available in UAE but users say audio is heavily distorted

Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio-chat social networking app launched in 2020 by software developers Alpha Exploration Co.
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Clubhouse continues to enjoy soaring popularity around the world, but users of the invitation-only audio platform in the UAE say it is almost impossible to tune in because of the poor sound quality.

Members say the audio during discussions in conversation rooms is often glitchy, with the sound dropping out mid-chat.

In a short clip posted on Twitter by Omar Kassim, the founder of start-ups JadoPado and Nomod, the sound is sometimes distorted before becoming clear again.

He wrote: “This is what @joinClubhouse sounds like in the UAE. The cruel machinations of traffic shaping are back."

“I tried it a couple of times in the last week,” said Clubhouse user Alex Malouf, 41, who is from the UK and lives in Abu Dhabi.

“I tried it on my network 4G and also on Wi-Fi. But the sound was so bad,” he said. He was able to stream shows on Netflix without a hitch, he said.

“You have that voice echo. You just can’t hear anything.”

He said the problem affects only conversation rooms, because users are still able to speak to each other one to one.

“The voice quality is great for private chats. It doesn’t drop out.”

One user tagged the UAE’s communications regulator, asking whether it had been banned.

“What should we do? Is VPN allowed to be used?” the user wrote.

TRA replied: “#Clubhouse is not banned in UAE.”

The voice-based social network, which launched last year, allows people to eavesdrop on conversations, interviews and chats on a variety of topics.

It feels as if the user is tuning in to a live podcast.

In addition to receiving an invitation, users must have an iPhone to join, because it operates only on the iOS platform.

Conversations can be found on just about any topic, from entrepreneurship to books to the latest technologies.

Elon Musk recently launched a popular chat on the platform and is hoping to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin.

How to join Clubhouse

A Clubhouse user must first send an invitation to give anyone else access to it. Users initially have only two invitations available on their account.

The invitation link usually comes in the form of a text message direct to a person’s phone. Clicking on the link directs the user to a sign-up page in the app.