Delay in Audio Playback

Hi there,
I really hope someone can help - I suspect that I caused this issue myself but I have no idea how to fix it.

I had been using Anki for about 4 months now without problems.
I had a Google Hangouts meeting today while Anki was open. I fiddled around with my short cut keys to switch my Microphone on and off for the Google hangouts meeting (pressed CTRL-D) a few times, but I suspect that the focus was on Anki and not Google hangouts and now I have caused the problem in Anki that there is a LOOOONGG delay before my audio starts playing.
The delay is about 20 to 30 seconds. I orignally thought the audio wasn’t playng at all but I found now that if I wait long enough it does play.
Both automatic play as well as playing by pressing the play buttons, are affected.
I switched my PC on and off.
I started Anki holding in the shift key.
I pressed CTRL-D again a few times.
Nothing is working.
Ankidroid is still OK, so it is definitely related to Anki on my PC (Windows version).
Anki version:
Version 2.1.22 (0ecc189a)
Python 3.8.0 Qt 5.14.1 PyQt 5.14.1

Any suggestions for ‘resetting’ Anki or the player in order to fix this?

I think this is unlikely to be caused by the shortcut you pressed.

But anyway, audio playback in the Windows version of Anki saw a number of improvements recently that you may want to upgrade to the latest version (2.1.29) to see if that fixes your issue.

Are there guidelines on how to upgrade without losing the decks / progress? if you can point me in the right direction I will appreciate it,
thank you!

Installing the new version will keep all your existing data