Performance Audio Blog

Troubleshooting Sound Problems

Posted: March 21, 2016

There you are, standing on stage with the lights blaring in your eyes, perspiration sliding down the back of your neck, the audience rapt with attention. You begin to speak into the microphone to share the line-up of tonight's performance, and the moment sound comes out of the speakers, you hear the most terrible, high pitched screech you have ever heard in your life. Everyone in the audience has to cover their ears and duck for cover as the sound screams at them like a banshee. The night has been ruined.

Audio problems seem to happen at every live event, but they are relatively simple to correct. Don't be the next victim of a sound spector. Below are four of the most common sound issues people experience, and how to correct them.

Feedback
Feedback occurs as a result of an endless circle. The microphone amplifies noise into the speakers, which reproduces the noise, sending it back out towards the microphone, which again sends the sound to the speakers, then back to the microphone forever and ever, creating that terrible screech we all have heard. The easiest way to reduce feedback is to keep the microphone as far away from the speakers as possible. Also, if the speakers and microphone are facing each other, there will be more feedback, so angle them away to cut the circle. Placing the microphone closer to the sound source (or speaker) will also help this problem.

No sound
No sound is typically a basic signal flow problem. It can be caused for a number of reasons, dead batteries in microphones, muted microphones, disconnected cables, and shorted cables. The first thing to do if you hear no sound is to ensure that everything is plugged in correctly. Sometimes cables get bumped while moving around equipment, so make sure everything is completely plugged in, and make sure that they have all the necessary power connections as well. Make sure that nothing is muted, either the microphone itself or the audio channel. Replace cords to see if they are the problem.

Crackling noises
Crackling noises are typically caused by loose connections in the signal flow. Ensure that at every point, all of the cords are completely plugged in. Another common reason for crackling is shorts in cords. If that is the problem, they need to be replaced. Sometimes, though, it is a sign that the amplifier or speakers have become old and have loose internal wires. Over time, strong vibrations from the sound can cause wires and connections to become loose. You can take in your speakers to be repaired, but it may be necessary to replace them completely.
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