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Why doesn’t the audio match up with your video?

Why doesn't the audio match up with your video?You’ve just sat down to watch your favourite movie, TV show, or other video on your tablet. You’ve really been looking forward to it all day. After a few minutes you notice the picture doesn’t quite match the video. You’re hearing things that aren’t happening in the scene yet. The video might be frozen on a particular point, or moving slowly forward while the audio plays happily along.

Frustrated you pause and restart. Maybe reload the web page, restart the app, or even reboot your tablet. But it keeps happening. Why does it happen?

There are lots of reasons the audio and video might be out of sync in your particular situation, but here’s an explanation of why it’s possible in the first place.

Most videos (professional ones anyway) are created by recording the audio and video separately. This is the only way to ensure the quality of the audio portion of the TV show, movie, wedding, or whatever the subject of the video is. You’ll know this if you’ve ever watched a video you created on your smartphone or tablet. Unless you’re in a really quiet space, you’ll notice background noise or maybe you can’t hear the people you’re recording.

For online streaming, the video and audio recordings are encoded separately then packaged together into a single file. When you click on play, the audio and video feeds actually travel over the internet separately as well. The audio feed is much smaller, requires less bandwidth and processing before it can play in your browser or app. The video feed is larger (especially for HD), requires more bandwidth and more processing power to play.

If there are any issues with your internet connection anywhere along the way from the source to your tablet, then the video may experience lag while the audio continues to play. If your tablet or computer doesn’t have the resources available to process the stream, the video is again likely to lag the audio.

So what can you do about it?

There are some things you can try to get everything all synched up again. If you’re using a browser try refreshing the page (you may need to find your spot in the video again), or use the player controls to jump back in time. Both of these actions might enable the video and audio to line up at the same time again. You can also try clearing out the cache, closing and restarting the browser, and trying a different movie to see if it is a problem with the streaming provider and not yours.

If you’re using a tablet, laptop or other mobile device, check your Wi-Fi connection to see if you have a good signal. If not, you might need to get off the couch and sit at the kitchen table, or wherever you can get a good strong signal to stream video. If worst comes to worst, you may have to change devices and watch on your laptop instead of your tablet, or vice versa.

Of course there are other reasons beyond your control for poor video playback. If you have trouble frequently, start to keep track of the problems and give your ISP or content provider a call. They can probably help you figure out if the problem is with you, your location or their network.

Oliver Burt

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