Unless you’re “off the grid,” not reliant on technology at all, you’ve likely experienced that mild frustration that comes with troubleshooting technology.
New technology and software tend to trip people because they see it for the first time. It has a new interface, new design and functions. It’s just… new. And that’s completely fair. You need time to get used to the new tech.
But a lot of the time, it’s not the technology or software at all. Instead, it’s often simple issues that lead to tooth-grinding annoyance and unnecessary expenses.
In this article, learn the first step you should take to troubleshoot AV problems.
Step 1: Diagnose the Problem
Professional audiovisual technicians and engineers have seen it all — from full-on cable management nightmares to an unplugged TV.
For essentially every troubleshooting endeavor, the same steps apply. The first being to diagnose the problem, which also means knowing what you’re trying to accomplish.
Defining your goal is important, especially if you have to call a pro later on, because it grounds the process. Without a clear goal, you may spiral into a deeper episode of technology-induced madness.
Naturally, the problem is what’s standing in between you and your goal. So, if you’re trying to set up new speakers to level up your movie nights (goal), but the speakers don’t work quite right (problem), the question is “why?”
Let’s keep going.
Step 2: Cross Potential Problems Off the List
Before you hustle back to the store demanding a refund for your speakers, run your checklist.
Here are five questions you want to start asking yourself:
- Is there power going to the speakers?
We know, we know. It sounds dumb — but trust us. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of double checking that the power is on.
If you notice there is no power going to the speakers and they’re plugged in properly, check your circuits to ensure they’re on and that the outlet itself works. Maybe the powerstrip is off. If applicable, try to swap out the batteries with new ones (and make sure they’re in the right way).
- Is everything plugged in the right way?
Some devices have several inputs and sources to jack into. A Blu-ray player, for instance, typically has multiple HMDI inputs, audio and video inputs, audio only (for speakers, power and more.
Using the Blu-ray player example, double check to ensure that the AV sources align. If the HDMI cable is plugged into HDMI 1 on the Blu-ray player, then it should be plugged into HMDI 1 on the TV as well.
In other scenarios, a cable may be loose and simply need to be adjusted. Or, consider that the cable itself might be faulty. If you suspect that to be true, try replacing it and running your checklist again. In other cases, it might be an individual component of the device. For example, if HDMI 1 doesn’t work, test HDMI 2 to see if the problem persists. If HDMI 2 works, then it may be an issue with the device itself. (Hopefully it’s under warranty!)
- Do your AV sources match up?
After you’ve checked the cables off the list, consider the AV sourcing on the TV or device. If the cables match up, then ensure the settings align as well. For example, if your Blu-ray player is plugged into HDMI 1, then change the source on the TV to HMDI 1 as well.
If you still run into issues, don’t rule anything out. Keep asking yourself questions: Is the TV on? Is the volume on or loud enough? Have the settings changed?
- Does it need to connect to the network? (Or is the network available?)
The millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices out there need a slice of your network, which can complicate matters when you’re in the process of setting them up or updating them.
If you’re running into issues connecting a smart speaker to the network, for example, it’s important to first ensure the network (your WiFi) is available. Make sure the router is plugged in and working normally. If it’s not, consider a hard restart by shutting it all the way down and turning it back on again a few minutes later. Or, check with your service provider to make sure there aren’t outages in your area.
For smart speakers, they typically connect using another device via Bluetooth. Ensure Bluetooth is on and the device is discoverable so you can continue with the process.
Again, it’s important not to rule anything out AND don’t skip any steps. Check the power, cables, and all else if you continue running into problems.
- Is there an update for the device or software?
Computers, smartphones, TVs, cameras, any device that’s powered by software will eventually need an update. It’s important for several reasons to stay on top of updates to devices, and security is among the most critical. New security features in devices could help keep hackers out of your home network, in turn safeguarding your information.
If your device starts acting a bit buggy, it may be best to restart it completely, which means totally shutting it down, unplugging it, and letting it reboot.
Step 3: Reference Online Resources
Asking yourself questions, running a checklist, testing and experimenting can be necessary steps to take when troubleshooting AV tech. But eventually, you may find yourself at a deadend.
Before calling in a professional AV technician, do some more digging.
Naturally, Google will help pull up myriad results for you to sift through, but consider other avenues as well, including YouTube, Reddit, online forums, the manufacturer’s website, blogs, and more.
Sometimes, it’s taking pieces of information from a variety of sources and stitching them together like a detective to finally solve the case.
A word of caution: While often very useful and insightful, not all online sources are created equal and some information you find could make matters worse. Before you bake the motherboard of your TV in the oven (seriously, look it up) at 385 for 10 minutes to re-solder things, get a second or third opinion.
Step 4: Turn on the Metaphorical ‘Bat-Signal’ and Call for Help
If you’ve done all that you can do and the devices still aren’t working — or you’re not comfortable baking your TV’s motherboard — consider calling in backup.
When it’s all said and done, ask them questions to understand what happened and how they solved it. That information may become useful in the future.
There is no shame in calling professionals who work with technology all day, every day. They have the skills and technical know-how to diagnose problems, troubleshoot devices and software, and properly install equipment.
That’s what AV Hero is all about. AV Hero employs certified audiovisual technicians who are on standby for when you hit the big red button signaling for help. See how it works here.