Troubleshooting Audio Issues

If you are experiencing audio issues during a video call, use this article to diagnose the problem and find the best troubleshooting steps to solve them.

 

Important: Regardless of your conclusion and whether or not you are able to resolve the problem on your own, please report any instances of audio issues to Highfive Support by clicking here or emailing help@highfive.com. Not only can we help you verify your results, this information is valuable to our team and can help drive future improvements to the service.

 

 

In general, audio issues are caused by one of the following:

 

  1. Environmental factors: The location of a device and the way it's being used can cause audio issues to occur, particularly in acoustically challenging environments. 
  2. Device issues: These can vary, as there are a myriad of devices and specifications available out there that you can use with Highfive. 
  3. Network connection issues: By design, Highfive will always prioritize audio over video when encountering network connectivity problems; however, if a connection is too poor or inconsistent, audio issues will occur.

 

 

Step 1: Characterization

 

Being able to describe the type of audio issue(s) you're encountering will make it easier to report the issue to your IT team or Highfive. Some examples are below:

  • Echo: When someone speaks, you hear the trailing end of their sentence again. If severe enough, this can cause terrible audio feedback.
  • Dropouts: Large portions of audio (sentences, for example) are missing and you hear silence when you are expecting to hear audio.
  • No audio: Completely missing audio from the beginning of a session.
  • Low audio: Audio comes through, but is lower than expected.
  • Choppy audio: Syllables, words, or multiple words in the audio are missing.
  • Robotic audio: Voices sound garbled or at a different pitch. The speed of the audio can vary.
  • Static: Sounds like white noise. Intensity can vary.

 

 

Step 2: Identify the source and impact

 

If you can determine which participant(s) is sending or receiving audio issues, it will become easier to narrow down who and what's causing the problem. Here are some questions you can ask yourself, coupled with responses to help you arrive at a conclusion:

 

  1. Who is hearing the audio issue?
    • Just me: On a multi-way call, if only I am experiencing issues, the problem is likely on my end. On a 1:1 call, it can be harder to tell and the problem could be on my end or the other participant's.
    • A specific user: On a multi-way call, if only one other person is experiencing issues, the problem is likely on their end. On a 1:1 call, it can be harder to tell and the problem could be on my end or the other participant's, but senders of an audio issue are usually oblivious to the problem.
    • Everyone, including me: The problem is likely on the end of the person who is sending audio issue to everyone else. These individuals are usually oblivious to the problem.
  2. How often does the issue occur?
    • Not often, every once in a while: The problem was likely caused by a temporary issue that resolved itself. Attempts at recreating the problem may not reveal any issues and troubleshooting will not create a high impact on improving your Highfive experience.
    • Very often, on every single call: There is a consistent problem with a sufficient number of data points that can be investigated further. Troubleshooting has the capacity to create a high impact on improving your Highfive experience.

 

 

Step 3: Troubleshooting

 

Once you have determined which endpoint(s) is the source of the issue and gauged it's impact, it's time to begin troubleshooting. 

 

 

Start with the basics

 

  1. Is Highfive currently having any issues?
    • You can quickly check Highfive's status page to see if there are any problems that can result in audio quality issues - http://status.highfive.com/
      • Fix: Highfive will work to resolve any problems displayed.
  2. Does my network and device meet Highfive's recommendations?
    • Highfive's recommendations/requirements can be found here
    • A connection that does not meet our recommendations can result in degraded audio quality.
      • Fix: Improve or change the network connection that you are on. Highfive will continue to work on improving quality, even when network conditions are not ideal.
    • A device that does not meet our recommendations may not be able to process high quality audio, resulting in audio issues or degraded quality.
      • Fix: Use an alternate device that meets our recommendations for your Highfive video calls.
  3. Are any other applications or services that I use affected?
    • This is important since it can help determine if an issue is specific to Highfive or is a higher-level device problem. For example, if you cannot hear audio during a Highfive call, but you're also unable to hear audio from a music/video player, then the problem is likely specific to your device's speaker configuration.
      • Fix: Any time you encounter a situation where multiple applications/services are affected by a similar audio issue, you should contact your IT team or desktop administrator so they can examine your audio settings and hardware. 

 

Resolving specific symptoms

 

  1. Echo
    • Why this happens: Echoing generally occurs when a microphone is able to pick up call audio that is getting output by nearby computer or TV speakers. This creates an audio loop where call audio is captured and played back again to other participants.
    • As a best practice, we always suggest using earbuds/headphones whenever possible. These almost always produce higher quality audio on both input and output channels. If a Dolby device is on the call, you will also be able to hear spatial audio from the conference room. 
      • Fix:
        • To find the endpoint causing echo, remotely mute the microphone of each participant/device on your call by clicking on their participant icon at the top of the Highfive window. When the echoing stops, you've found your source and can follow the steps below.
        • Computer/Mobile devices: Ask the user at the problematic endpoint to plug in a pair of headphones or earbuds. If a pair is not available, ask them to keep their microphone muted or turn their speakers all the way down as a temporary workaround.
        • Highfive device: Disable any audio enhancement options on your TV, then proceed with an audio calibration (steps here). If the echoing persists, consider relocating your Highfive device, taking into account in the direction the TV speakers are firing. Any time you move the Highfive device, you will need to recalibrate the audio on your device for the best results. If the echoing persists or if you are using the device in a known acoustically challenging environment, connecting external speakers to the back of the Highfive device will resolve virtually all echo issues by bypassing TV audio processing software and ensuring physical separation of audio input/output sources (steps here).
        • Dolby device: This device should never produce echoing. Ensure that the device is properly seated on a flat desktop surface and report the issue to Highfive Support at help@highfive.com if the problem persists. 
  2. Dropouts
    • Why this happens: This is usually the result of poor network conditions, specifically on connections with high amounts of packet loss. When packets are not being sent or received properly by a device, gaps in the flow will manifest as silence.
      • Fix: Across all device types, improving network connectivity is expected to resolve this issue. If you or the problematic user is on a Wi-Fi (wireless) connection, try a wired connection instead. Or, try connecting to a different network. If the problem persists across different networks, you may be affected by a Highfive product issue and the problem should be reported to the Highfive Support team at help@highfive.com.
  3. No audio
    • Why this happens: This is usually the result of a device's audio configuration or settings that prevent Highfive from picking up or outputting audio properly. 
      • Fix: Follow this guide for troubleshooting steps.
  4. Choppy audio
    • Why this happens: There can be different root causes for this type of problem. Most commonly, someone else on the call is producing severe echo (see "Echo" section above), which makes Highfive's built-in software echo cancellation work overtime, creating choppy audio for call participants. In some other cases, network connectivity problems or high CPU utilization can also cause an inconsistent audio stream.
      • Fix: If someone is creating audio echoing, which manifests as choppy audio for other participants, resolving the echoing using the steps outlined in the "Echo" section above will fix this. Otherwise, please report the problem to Highfive Support at help@highfive.com for a deeper investigation.
  5. Low audio
    • Why this happens: There are a variety of reasons that can cause low audio. The majority of the time, it is either caused by device audio settings or the environment a device is used in.
    • As a best practice, we always suggest using earbuds/headphones whenever possible. These almost always produce higher quality audio on both input and output channels. If a Dolby device is on the call, you will also be able to hear spatial audio from the conference room.
      • Fix:
        • Regardless of the device type, if you are hearing low audio, making sure your speakers are turned up is a simple and quick first troubleshooting step.
        • Computer: Identify the person sending the low volume audio and check their microphone settings to ensure it's pickup level is turned up. Whenever possible, we recommend plugging in earbuds/headphones with a built-in microphone for improved audio pickup and output on all ends.
        • Mobile devices: Due to the variety of mobile device types and specifications available out there, we recommend plugging in earbuds/headphones with a built-in microphone for improved audio pickup and output.
        • Highfive or Dolby device: If the sender of the low audio is a Highfive or Dolby device, please contact Highfive Support at help@highfive.com for a deeper investigation. 
  6. Robotic audio
    • Why this happens: There are a variety of reasons that can cause robotic-sounding audio. They can range anywhere from from poor network conditions to device-specific causes, such as high CPU utilization or defective hardware (microphone/speakers).
      • Fix: Please report the problem to Highfive Support at help@highfive.com for a deeper investigation.
  7. Static
    • Why this happens: There are a variety of reasons that can cause audio static, such as environmental factors or defective hardware (microphone/speakers).
      • Fix: Please report the problem to Highfive Support at help@highfive.com for a deeper investigation.

 

 If you have questions about any of the steps above or your audio issue is not listed, contact Highfive Support at help@highfive.com.

 

Brian Huynh -

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