The Divide and Conquer Method to Trouble Shooting Sound Systems
The “divide and conquer” method for trouble shooting is the simplest. This method enables you to use a known working part of the system to test other parts and narrow down the list of possible problem parts. Attacking the problem systematically usually saves time and effort—finding the problem does not have to rely on chance, and once you know a whole section of the system is working well, you do not have to waste your time checking that sections individual components.
How to simply solve the problem
An example of the “divide and conquer” method can begin with a system setup in which one of the channels coming from a mike isn’t working. Start with choosing one of the input connectors plugged into the working channel. Disconnect it and plug it in to the dead channel. The result will help you discern the next step and will eliminate half of the list of possible malfunctions. If the dead channel works after the connector is plugged in, the problem lies somewhere back toward the mic before the console. If it does not work, than something is wrong after the channel’s input.
Try, try again
If you find the first possibility is true and you know it is not your console, then change everything back to the way it was originally on the console. Take a cable from a working mic and plug it into the dead channel on the stage box. If the problem persists, then the problem is in the snake. If not and the channel works, the problem is either in the mic and/or the cable. To figure out which one it is switch the cable and the mic out individually to test.
If you find the latter problem in your first step, this same method can be used after the console. When one amp is not working, substitute its cable for the input cable of the working amp (whatever you do do not plug an amp cable of a different frequency range into an amp which can’t handle that range, while this won’t necessarily damage the amp immediately it is not a guarantee and definitely won’t help you solve your problem). If the amp begins to respond move the cables back and focus on the console. At the crossover, begin moving back towards the amps changing the left and right signals. You detect the trouble spot when the problem changes sides.
Make sure that you do not use the “panic” method (randomly plugging and unplugging connections or changing out cables until the problem is fixed). While it may work once in a while, if there are two problems it becomes almost impossible to discover the problem. For instance if you replace a cable before a bad amp and it still isn’t working, change it back, then wiggle the connection to the console, you wouldn’t see any problem if there were a problem with the connection and the cable. That is why the “divide and conquer” method is so important. It adds a systematic approach and allows solutions for multiple problems.