Join the webinar on 'Open source GenAI tools for Test Automation' on May 28th or May 30th.
Audio & Video Testing Using HeadSpin's Audio Visual Platform

Why is Audio/Video Testing Crucial, and How is it Performed on Real Devices

July 6, 2023
 Rohith Ramesh Rohith Ramesh
Rohith Ramesh

With millions of people streaming video content, playing games, and engaging in video conferencing, ensuring audio and video quality is up to par is essential. As the digital landscape continues evolving, the significance of audio and video quality in user experience is becoming increasingly apparent. Seamless audio and video performance is paramount in sectors like gaming, media, and video and teleconferencing. This underlines the critical importance of comprehensive audio and video testing. And to address this requirement, several tools have been introduced that help securely test audio and video online and improve the quality of experience to offer the utmost customer satisfaction. 

The importance of audio/video testing

Audio and video testing are essential in order to ensure that customers have a positive experience with a product or service. Poor audio and video quality can lead to customer dissatisfaction, resulting in lost customers and revenue. To ensure a positive experience, audio and video testing should be done regularly, preferably throughout the entire development process. Audio and video testing should also be conducted when a product is released to the public, as it can reveal any issues that may have been missed during development.

The key areas that make audio/video testing critical include the following:

  • User experience: At the core, high-quality audio and video contribute significantly to a positive user experience. Users demand seamless performance, crisp visuals, clear audio, and instantaneous streaming. Issues such as video stuttering, audio lag, or desynchronization between audio and video streams can lead to user frustration, damaging the user experience and potentially leading to customer loss.
  • Performance across devices: There's a multitude of devices on the market, each with different hardware capabilities, screen resolutions, and speaker configurations. Audio and video testing ensures that all users get a consistent experience, regardless of their device. This includes testing across various mobile devices, desktop configurations, and even smart TVs or other connected devices.
  • Network conditions: Users aren't always operating under ideal network conditions. Testing audio and video performance under varied network scenarios such as low bandwidth, high latency, or packet loss can help ensure that the content still performs at its best, even in less-than-ideal conditions.
  • Competitive advantage: In today's digital market, standing out can be challenging. Offering superior audio and video quality can give a significant edge over competitors. By prioritizing audio and video testing, companies can ensure they deliver the highest quality experience to their users.
  • Reduced costs: By catching issues during the testing phase, companies can fix problems before they reach the end-users, thereby reducing the costs associated with post-release patches and damage to brand reputation.
Read: Media’s Changing Landscape - OTT Platform Testing and More

What are the different audio/video use cases prevalent today

There are a wide array of video and audio content and applications available in the marketplace, making the testing landscape more complex. These lead to diverse file types, formats, and typical testing requirements. Different use cases can be grouped as follows:

  • Streaming services: With the rise of on-demand entertainment, streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Spotify, etc., rely on effective testing solutions to ensure seamless audio and video playback across a multitude of devices and network conditions.
  • Video conferencing tools: In the era of remote work, tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex require thorough testing to maintain high-quality audio/video communication. Efficient testing methods assist in delivering a flawless user experience by testing these platforms in various real-world scenarios.
  • DRM-protected content: DRM content protects digital media from unauthorized use. Testing DRM-protected content can be complex due to issues with device compatibility, ensuring a positive user experience, maintaining security, assessing performance impact, and verifying functionality under varying network conditions.
  • Smart assistants: The advent of smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant has made voice activation and responses a key aspect of user interaction. Ensuring these smart assistants' audio clarity, responsiveness, and overall performance requires dedicated testing.
  • eCommerce platforms: Interactive product demos or live seller interactions in eCommerce platforms require high-quality audio/video. These applications require rigorous testing to help ensure that the user experience is flawless.
  • Voice-activated services: Voice activation is being increasingly integrated into a range of services, from home automation systems to in-car infotainment. Effective testing of these services is necessary to verify that they respond accurately and promptly, thereby providing an optimal user experience.
Apply data science and innovation to infotainment and in-cabin experience measurement. Know more.

What is audio testing, and how does it work?

The process of audio testing is vital to assess the overall user experience offered by applications or devices. It essentially involves scrutinizing the audio quality from both objective and subjective perspectives. Various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like audio fidelity, delay, packet loss, jitters, network switching, and loudness are considered during this process. Utilizing a dedicated audio testing solution not only helps guarantee superior audio quality but also aids in understanding user behavior. Furthermore, it serves as a tool to enhance the overall user experience, fostering user engagement and ultimately leading to increased revenue. Here are some areas to consider while performing audio testing:

  • Evaluating for diverse use cases: System complexity and variations in devices, networks, and user environments challenge the consistency of audio quality.
  • Identifying improvement areas: Traditional tools might miss defects, leaving key areas unchecked. Undetected issues lead to poor user experience and higher support costs.
  • Measuring pertinent audio metrics: With numerous mobile device users, choosing relevant audio quality metrics for measurement is complex. Metrics like audio fidelity, delay, jitters, and others assess different aspects of audio quality.
  • Testing Multiple Voice Assistant Features: Testing voice assistant features involves evaluating recognition accuracy, response quality, performance in varied environments, ability to maintain multi-turn conversations, interoperability with other apps, and robustness of privacy and security measures. Such rigorous testing ensures a seamless and effective user experience.
Read: A Complete Guide to User Experience Testing

What to keep in mind for video testing?

Video testing is a multi-faceted process that requires a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the end users' needs. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind while performing video testing:

1. Video quality: This involves an assessment of the resolution, frame rate, and absence of any distortions or artifacts in the video content, to determine its overall clarity and detail.

2. Audio sync: A critical aspect is ensuring that the audio track aligns seamlessly with the video to maintain a fluid and unified viewing experience.

3. Buffering and streaming: The testing process should involve a thorough evaluation of the buffering speed and streaming quality under varying network conditions. A superior user experience is delivered through high-quality streaming and minimal buffering time.

4. Device compatibility: The testing scope should extend to various devices, operating systems, and screen sizes to confirm a consistent viewing experience across all platforms.

5. Adaptive bitrate streaming: The adaptability of the video to changes in network conditions, which is reflected in real-time adjustments in video streaming quality according to network and CPU conditions, is an important factor to test.

6. Latency: Low latency is essential, especially for live streaming, to ensure that content is delivered without significant delay.

7. Compatibility with different browsers: The seamless operation of video content across all popular browsers should be confirmed during the testing process.

8. DRM (Digital Rights Management) compliance: If video content is protected, the testing process needs to confirm that the DRM system effectively prevents unauthorized use.

Check: How Can Testing Mobile Apps in Real-World Network Conditions Improve Performance and User Experience?

How HeadSpin enables leading media companies to streamline audio/video testing

HeadSpin offers a unified data science driven Platform that allows end-to-end audio and video testing securely and remotely and captures critical performance KPIs to streamline the delivery of audio/video content. The Platform leverages machine learning algorithms to obtain real-time performance data to render actionable insights. Through HeadSpin's Remote Control UI/ Debug Bridge, users can remotely access the test devices and perform various analyses, such as root cause identification, regression testing, and issue detection. The Platform further augments this process with its unique visualization capabilities, presenting users with informative dashboards, actionable insights, and alerts for important KPIs.

HeadSpin's Audio/Visual Platform: The core of end-to-end audio and video tests

Supporting HeadSpin's data science capabilities is its proprietary hardware, including the AV Platform. This is a one-stop solution for secure testing of audio and video quality across different devices and applications, including: 

● Media devices

  • OTT device
  • Chromecast, Firestick, and Apple TV apps 
  • Roku 
  • Other device support only via manual automation via Android or iOS app

● DRM-protected content

● Voice activation and speaker-based apps

● Smart assistants

● Camera apps and gaming apps

How does the AV Platform work?

The AV Platform is a secured rackmount enclosure designed to capture audio and video from any device situated within. Its access control feature safeguards devices and confidential data, ensuring a secure environment for quality testing.

Its operation encompasses two key components: the device under test and a supporting device. The device under test varies widely, encompassing anything from speakers and smart assistants to mobile devices and OTT devices. The positioned opposite is the supporting device, armed with a high-resolution camera for video capture, as well as microphones and Bluetooth capabilities for audio recording. This configuration allows for robust analysis and quality enhancement.

camera fov

How does the HeadSpin AV Box API help test video and audio across devices?

The AV Box API allows testers and QA teams to playback and record media on a device within a HeadSpin A/V Box accessible by the organization. With the efficient remote control option, testers can remotely access devices from different locations and test applications to optimize performance and ensure perfect digital experiences for end-users. HeadSpin offers a wide array of data science capabilities that help analyze audio and video content across different devices, applications, OSs, and networks. The key capabilities of HeadSpin and how these enable enterprises to test the quality of their audio and video files are as follows:

Waterfall and Burst UI

By leveraging deep ML models, HeadSpin captures performance sessions to provide a detailed analysis of the audio and video to the testers and identify the areas degrading performance. The Platform offers Waterfall and Burst UI to offer detailed AI-based testing insights into the performance metrics. The HeadSpin Waterfall UI is the visualization platform that helps testers understand the app's network characteristics. The metrics captured are viewed distinctly in the session through the Waterfall UI, which helps narrow down where the bottlenecks might be. The metrics include average wait, traffic, download speed, throughput, connection usage, and many more. 

In the performance sessions captured by the Platform, testers, and QA teams can view the audio and video being recorded in the timeline of the test that aligns to the same timeline for screen recording. Hovering the mouse over the time series shows the value in the dataset at that point in time. A horizontal line indicates the maximum value for the dataset and the max value, which is permanently displayed in the top-right of the time series panel.

The time series includes data around the following KPIs:

Page Content, downsampling index, frame rate, screen change, impact time, blockiness, colorfulness, screen rotation, audio volume, audio momentary LUFS, download rate, and others.

HeadSpin dashboard issues

AI driven quality of experience monitoring

  • Enhancing User Experience through AI Monitoring: HeadSpin AI optimizes user experience by highlighting performance issues and visual load times. It also tracks changes in the page content.
  • Metrics for User-Perceived Video Quality Evaluation: The Platform evaluates user-perceived video quality through metrics like blockiness, blurriness, contrast, brightness, colorfulness, and downsampling index.
  • AI-Driven Evaluation of Overall Video Quality: The AI-driven Mean Opinion Score (MOS) measures holistic video quality. Netflix's VMAF assessment is also implemented, especially for videos with a reference. 
  • Proactive Identification of Video Freezing and Stuttering Issues: Potential freezing and stuttering issues are identified through the Frame Rate and Screen Change time series, pinpointing areas with performance drops or screen freezes.

AI-based issue detection engine

The HeadSpin AI enables to automatically detect issues and their root causes occurring due to network, device, and app architecture performance and provides actionable insight into the root causes of issues. HeadSpin categorizes issues into:

  • User Experience Issues: Perceived from the user's perspective, indicating areas for user experience improvement.
  • Root Cause Issues: Derived from device and network monitoring, they specify problems and solutions.
  • Warnings: Issues that don't impact usage time but highlight security risks and tips for HeadSpin optimization.
  • Testing Pitfalls: Problems resulting from suboptimal configuration between the application and HeadSpin, affecting data capture.
Impact score

Global device infrastructure

HeadSpin provides a robust and secure device infrastructure that allows QA and testing teams to remotely access and connect with thousands of real devices across various locations, significantly expanding the scope of their test coverage. This infrastructure aids enterprises in conducting advanced AI testing on distributed nodes or edges.

HeadSpin's device cloud presents vast opportunities for teams working across different regions. It enables these teams to effortlessly execute end-to-end tests by providing remote access to physical devices. The device cloud encompasses Android and iOS devices, as well as desktop browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera.

Performance monitoring

HeadSpin's Performance Monitoring UI tracks session metrics in real time. Sessions are grouped into a User Flow, displaying trends in key measurements like "Average Wait" for HTTP exchanges. Access it through the sidebar, which enables the creation or exploration of User Flows. The interface visualizes each session measurement on a trend graph, facilitating a comparison of performance across sessions. Sessions can be manually linked to User Flows with a status assigned for inclusion in the time series. 

In a nutshell

The demand for seamless audio and video quality in user experiences is on the rise. This underscores the importance of robust audio and video testing in every stage of development and after a product's public release. Audio/video testing is crucial for enhancing user experiences, ensuring consistency across different devices and networks, gaining a competitive advantage, and reducing costs. Various applications and platforms have diverse audio/video testing requirements, including streaming services, video conferencing tools, DRM-protected content, smart assistants, and voice-activated services.

Solutions like HeadSpin's unified data science-driven Platform prove to be indispensable to fulfill these testing requirements. Offering end-to-end audio and video testing capabilities, HeadSpin utilizes machine learning algorithms for real-time performance data analysis, optimizing audio/video content delivery. Its AV Platform and AV Box API allow secure and remote testing across different devices and applications, while its AI-driven monitoring and detection tools proactively identify issues, enabling a swift resolution. Hence, in an increasingly digital landscape, comprehensive tools such as those offered by HeadSpin can ensure the consistent delivery of high-quality audio and video experiences for users.


Q1. What is the impact of network conditions on audio/video quality?

Ans: Network conditions can greatly impact audio/video quality. Low bandwidth or high latency can lead to buffering, lag, lower video resolution, and other issues that can degrade the user experience. Audio/video testing should therefore simulate a range of network conditions to ensure performance is optimized for all scenarios.

Q2. How does audio/video testing differ across various platforms like mobile, desktop, and smart TVs?

Ans: Different platforms have unique characteristics and capabilities, and users have different expectations for each. For instance, mobile devices often have smaller screens and use cellular networks, desktops typically have larger screens and use wired connections, while smart TVs are designed for long-distance viewing and often use Wi-Fi. Audio/video testing needs to account for these differences to ensure a consistent user experience across all platforms.

Why is Audio/Video Testing Crucial, and How is it Performed on Real Devices

4 Parts


Perfect Digital Experiences with Data Science Capabilities

Utilize HeadSpin's advanced capabilities to proactively improve performance and launch apps with confidence
popup image