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Troubleshooting Live Streaming issues: AV engineers' best practices

Every AV engineer faces various challenges when it comes to live streaming throughout their professional journey. These obstacles range from problems with connectivity to synchronization between audio and video. In this blog post, we’ll share personal tips, tricks, and advice for troubleshooting common live streaming issues, so you can deliver the best possible experience to your viewers.

Connectivity issues

  • Test your network: Before going live, run a speed test to ensure you have sufficient upload bandwidth to support the stream. Ideally, you should have at least twice the bandwidth of your target bitrate.
  • Use a wired connection: Whenever possible, use a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi to reduce the risk of signal interference and dropped frames.
  • Opt for adaptive bitrate streaming: This allows the streaming server to adjust the video quality in real-time based on the viewer’s network conditions, preventing buffering and lag.

Audio and video synchronization

  • Check your equipment: Make sure all your devices (camera, microphones, encoders, etc.) are correctly configured and using the same frame rate and sample rate.
  • Use a common reference clock: To keep audio and video in sync, use a common timecode source or a genlock signal to synchronize all devices.
  • Monitor latency: Keep an eye on latency during the live stream, and if you notice any synchronization issues, consider using a video delay unit or adjusting the audio delay in your mixer or encoder settings.

Video Quality and Encoding

  • Optimize your encoding settings: Use the recommended settings for your streaming platform, and make sure to choose the right codec, resolution, and bitrate for your target audience and available bandwidth.
  • Consider using a hardware encoder: Hardware encoders typically offer better performance and lower latency compared to software encoders, resulting in higher video quality.
  • Address lighting and camera settings: Poor lighting and incorrect camera settings can affect video quality. Ensure your subject is well-lit and adjust camera settings such as exposure, white balance, and focus as needed.

Audio Quality

  • Use high-quality microphones: Invest in good quality microphones that suit your specific recording environment and sound source. Audio quality can make or break your event, and it could be argued that it is even more crucial than the quality of video. This is why investing in good microphones is necessary.
  • Minimize background noise: Identify and eliminate sources of background noise, such as air conditioning units, traffic, or other equipment.
  • Properly set audio levels: Maintain consistent audio levels during the live stream by setting proper gain structure and using a compressor or limiter to control peaks.

Stream Interruptions and Dropouts

  • Monitor your stream: Use a dedicated monitoring tool or a second device to keep an eye on your live stream, checking for interruptions, buffering, or quality issues.
  • Enable automatic reconnect: Configure your encoder to automatically reconnect in case of a dropped connection or server issue.
  • Have a backup plan: Prepare a pre-recorded video or backup stream that can be played in case of technical difficulties, ensuring minimal disruption to your audience. For SRT, you can use SRT Main-Backup bonding mechanism to ensure stability.

Troubleshooting live streaming issues can be challenging, but with the right approach and a solid understanding of best practices, you can effectively address common problems and deliver a seamless viewing experience. As an AV engineer, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and techniques to ensure your live streams are the best they can be. Keep experimenting, learning, and refining your skills, and you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any live streaming challenge that comes your way.