Troubleshooting new equipment or any problem within a signal flow that you are using for the first time can be scary.The good thing about physics is that it never changes, even if you are using the weirdest gear. The electric signal flow will always be the same in an audio path. Of course it can get very complicated if digital signals are involved like Dante, AVB or MADI, but there is still hope in getting things right when you troubleshoot.
Some basic questions you can ask yourself when you starting to face a problem is:
- Is there any noise? can you identify the type of noise? is it electrical, digital, RF?
If you think is electrical, check closeness of the audio cables to the electrical cables, if you are able to discard the equipment in which you have the electrical noise, check the ground connections within the circuit, secure screws connected to the ground. Lift grounds if necessary.
- If you think is digital check all your wordclocks, are they on? are they in sync? power cycle digital elements in your signal flow if possible, power cycling devices often solves the issue.
- If you think your problem is the RF check the condition of the antennas of the devices you think are compromised, check the position of the antennas, check the spectrum and make sure there are no interference with the frequency you are using.
- Is not a noise but audio is cutting out or attenuated?
If you hear it on an specific instrument check there isn’t pads to attenuate the signal on, or that knobs and switches are in the right position.
Do you have any cable that can be easily swapped or unplugged? maybe the cable is broken and instead of having no signal, the signal is just being attenuated. Are cables connected properly and secure?
- is there a lot of cables and connections?
Start with the closest one first, start with the cable that gets manipulated often. Is the cable properly connected? make sure connectors are tight and all the way in.
- Look for elements in common. Is the problem happening somewhere else? Is there any source they have in common? Power cycle all the devices and get them back on in the correct order.
- Do you have a spare unit of the device you think is failing? when connecting this new device, are all the configurations the same?
And the most important thing: keep always the right order while troubleshooting, keep the order following the signal path and don’t give up unless you are 100% certain the device died and you cannot repair it. Good luck and enjoy!