The top 4 common issues with audio over live streaming
1. Low Volume or Too Much Volume
Too-low or too-high volume is generally caused by either not enough gain or too much gain going to the BoxCaster or encoder. This can be caused by a myriad of reasons, but the most common are: gain structure, connection/device, and/or too many points of interception.
The BoxCaster Pro allows for fine-tuning of the analog input gain directly on the unit. The BoxCaster allows for rough adjustment in +/-3dBFS increments from the BoxCaster's Advanced Settings page. Check out this article to learn more about advanced settings. This may help you adjust audio input levels that are too loud or too quiet — especially when you can’t physically adjust other equipment in your workflow.
We recommend you find an input level setting that works well for you, and perform fine-tuning input adjustments on a per-broadcast basis using your upstream equipment such as an audio mixer or video switcher.
Low volume is annoying. It's hard to hear, not easy to correct, and it can be difficult to diagnose. The easiest remedy is to increase the volume going to the encoder/BoxCaster. However, this may be difficult if you have multiple pieces of equipment, and if you change one, then you're changing all. The simplest method is to adjust the volume on the piece of equipment closest to the encoder. If you're running a switcher or coming off a split from a recorder, most of those devices have their own volume control. Adjusting these devices may solve the low volume. If you don't have a switcher and instead use audio directly from the console or source, simply adjust the volume in 1–2 dB increments until the volume is better matched.
Too Much Volume
The technical term for high volume is overdriven, or clipping. This occurs when you've reached and are exceeding the device's native input limit. Clipping sounds distorted, scratchy, and boxy. This can cause some headaches for viewers.
The easiest method here is to bring the audio down. Again, you should first target the source closest to your encoder. Gain structure is also key to too much volume. You should take into account how much volume is added or removed by other devices before the signal reaches your encoder.
Pro Tip: Depending on what console and type you’re using (analog mixer or digital mixer), each will have a variety of outputs and dB levels they send.
A general rule of thumb is: Analog is -10 dB and digital is +4/6 dB. This can have a great impact on your audio levels. Making sure to gain appropriately can relieve some headaches later.
You could always send the audio to another mixer or submixer and make the adjustments as needed. Usually sending audio to a submixer can help to dial in the audio level, regardless if it's too low or too high.
Also, don't forget that many devices viewers are watching and listening through have their own volume limits. What sounds loud on one device can sound low on another.
2. Left or Right side only audio
Audio is determined by "Channels" and there are typically only 2 channels that any one person will hear, left and right. The technical term here is Mono (left only) and Stereo (left and right). If you're hearing your audio in your streams coming through as only on the left (or even only on the right), then you're streaming audio in Mono. This can happen for a few reasons:
- The connection to the encoder/box is only sending audio to the left side.
- Your sending audio L/R to the encoder box, but your cable isn't working properly.
- The device that a viewer is listening on, is setup only for Mono audio.
Best ways to solve this. Check your connections. Sometimes, audio being sent Stereo from the source is being converted to mono with your cable. Check to make sure that your cable is able to handle stereo signals and that if your connecting it to the correct inputs on the encoder/box.
Also, using the proper connector type is important. If you're running audio from a console with 1 cable that is marked for Stereo. Be aware, you're still running Mono audio, your cable is converting the left or copying the left to the right side to make a Faux Stereo signal.
Viewer's devices sometimes automatically take a Mono signal and make it Stereo. Advise viewers to check their device settings to disable that feature.
3. Audio quality differences
So your audio quality seems off. You listen through BoxCast and then through Facebook and it seems different, worse, or better. Well there is a reason for that.
Most audio is sent in what is called Bitrates. Bitrates are the amount of data being sent. The more bitrates, the better. Often times what happens is, a device is sending bitrates at 320Kbps, but then they are being compressed or modified to 128Kbps. This happens because the device your sending the stream from, may not be set to send 320Kbps and can only send 128Kbps. To fix this. Try sending from the encoder the highest amount of audio bitrates you can. Naturally, the highest that can be streamed is 320Kbps. If you're finding it hard to determine where good audio quality is and isn't. Stick to the standard of 192Kpbs.
Note: The BoxCaster is only capable of handling up to 128Kbps. The BoxCaster Pro can handle up to 320Kbps.
4. Ground Loop or Noise Floor Hum
Ground Loop occurs when the source of your audio (mixer, camera, mic) is connected to an electrical outlet that is not grounded or a power stripe that is not grounded. What happens is the natural electrical frequency becomes trapped and "Loops" through the circuit chain. This causes either a 60 Hz hum or 120 Hz hum.
Best solution to remove Ground Loop, Grounding the source of your audio. If that's not easily done, then use a Ground Loop Isolator. This will cycle your audio signal through a transformer and remove the loop.
Noise Floor Hum
Noise Floor Hum occurs when you're gain or volume on the source is so high, that you can audibly hear the lowest frequencies. Noise Floor sounds almost like ground loop, but it sounds more like hissing than a hum. To remove the Noise Floor Hum, try a hum eliminator or bring our gain back down a little to keep from amplifying the floor noise in your stream.
You have to remember that audio in live streaming isn't the easiest thing to do. With so many connection types and so many variables, it will take time to get that perfect sound. Audio is consistent work in progress and there is no "set it and forget it". It will take time to master the nuances of audio over live streaming and with every passing attempt, your audio will get better.
BoxCaster Hardware Specs
The BoxCaster and BoxCaster Pro have their own limits and specifications. Check out the product specs pages for each to learn more: