Listing common problems and solutions is one thing, but in this post, I’m also exploring the over-arching reason why most of these occur and what you can do to avoid them.
The 5 Common Audio Problems/Solutions
1. Partial plugging. I’ve even done this one back in my guitar days. It’s when the guitarist doesn’t plug their cable completely into their guitar. When I don’t get a signal during a line check, this is the first thing I ask them to check.
2. No monitor volume. They are plugged in. A signal is being sent to them, but nothing is coming out. Solution…turn the monitor on. It’s so easy to overlook. Also, if that’s not the problem, I check the volume knob on the monitor itself. Sometimes, it gets turned down.
3. Bad cables that appear good. A cable tester can show a cable as good, but when it’s plugged into a piece of equipment and the plug is jiggled, static is heard in the system. I’ve had this happen even when I jiggled the plug in the cable tester. Solution is simple – replace the cable and fix the old one or replace it. It’s not 100% reliable so don’t keep it in service.
4. No volume out of channel. The best practice for resolution is following the signal flow. In doing this, it’s easy to overlook the sub-groups/VCA’s. For example, a channel that’s assigned to a subgroup but the volume for the subgroup isn’t up. I find that by resetting the board before I start, I start from the same settings each time and avoid this error.
5. No volume out of condenser microphone. You probably already know the answer to this one. Condensers required phantom power. It’s just too easy to overlook that because…
Truth is most “got ya” problems occur when you vary from your standard routine. I’ll give you a simple example. Every time I’m behind the mixer, I reset the board (gains, eq’s, sub, etc.) so that I know when I progress across my channels that I’m working from a known setup. When I don’t take the time to do this, the likelihood of one of these mistakes occurring skyrockets.
The same goes with my stage setup routine. Common routine guarantees a good setup.
However, it’s not always easy to stick to a routine when you have a day where you are constantly interrupted. Again, another simple solution…review your work. Once I set up a stage with monitors, cables, DI’s, and whatever else is necessary, I do a visual inspection.
The stage visual inspection looks for:
All cables plugged in.
Signal flow checked on equipment (cables plugged into correct locations).
Equipment lights on (monitor power light on, guitar pedal lights on, Aviom input light on).
Rear rack components on.
The mixer visual inspection before sound check goes as follows:
All gains turned completely down.
No channels in subgroups.
Monitor sends turned completely down.
Faders all the way down.
Main mixer aux sends set to our regular settings.
Master volume set (yeah, nothing like forgetting to turn up the house mains).
And just to add, I also review all my rack components are turned on – wireless receivers included. You and I juggle a lot of tasks before a church service. By following an inspection of our own work, and sometimes that of others, the likelihood of experiencing “got ya” problems drops drastically.
Question(s): What “got ya” problem have you encountered? Do you have an inspection routine? If so, what is it?