Whether your speakers are new or used, nobody wants to hear frustrating interruptions. Quiet hums and sharp hisses make speakers unbearable at times. They often show up when your sound system is turned off, which can be indicative of various problems. So, how can you prevent or eliminate these noises?
To remove humming or hissing sounds from speakers, identify if the problem is electrical or found in the speaker system, then tighten loose wires, fix ground loops, and move potential interferences away from the speaker. Smartphones, WiFi routers, and many other devices can make speakers buzz.
Throughout this post, we’ll show you the step-by-step process to find the problem and come up with a quick solution for your humming or hissing sound system. We’ll also provide a few helpful tips to prevent it from coming back.
Identify Why Your Speakers Are Humming
Before finding all of the solutions you’ll need to fix the humming and hissing, we’re going to break down the ten possible causes in the next two sections. Humming and hissing often come from separate sources (though there are a few overlaps)
Below, we’ll discuss five reasons your speakers might be humming.
- Electrical interferences could be the problem. These interferences can cause humming, hissing, and everything in between. This is typically caused by too many electrical devices hindering the signal. You’ve probably heard the hissing or humming when a microphone is turned on.
- Your transformer might be making a low humming noise. Using the wrong transformer or wiring it incorrectly will undoubtedly cause strange sounds. Contact the manufacturer to ensure you chose the correct transformer. Leaning close to the component will let you identify if it’s the source or if you should look elsewhere.
- Incorrect USB connections might work, but they’ll tamper with the speakers’ sound quality. As you’ll see later in the post, your speaker’s USB connections can cause many different issues. They might seem minor, but there’s no denying the constant sound you’ll hear. These noises can hum or tick, even when you’re not playing audio.
- Choosing the wrong cables can be bad for amplifiers and traditional speakers. It might be tempting to buy the cheapest cables that say they’re compatible with your setup, but that’s not always the best solution. Sometimes, low-end cables are too loose and weaken the current, making it hum.
- Your speakers might be plugged into the wrong AC line. Use a multimeter to test the outlet’s current to ensure it’s supplying the proper voltage. If your speakers are humming, there’s a high chance it has something to do with an electrical issue. It doesn’t hurt to make sure everything has the same voltage (wires, plugs, cables, etc.)
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons your speakers make humming or buzzing sounds. It’s important to find out what’s causing the noises so you can get rid of them as soon as possible.
If you’re noticing a hissing sound rather than a low hum, proceed to the next section for a handful of probable causes.
Find Out What Makes Speakers Hiss
Whether they’re showing up when your speakers are on or off, hissing sounds are quite annoying. Sometimes, they’re loud enough to ruin a song. You might even notice a high-pitched hiss when you get close to the speakers.
There are many explanations for this common complaint, so let’s explore each option in a five-part list.
- Loose or damaged wires often cause hissing speakers. Exposed, or damaged wires and other connections are a primary candidate for several audio issues. If your wires aren’t in good condition, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible to prevent electrical hazards.
- There might be a ground loop causing the strange sounds. When everything’s tied to the same power source while also being connected to each other, it creates a loop. For example, if your speakers and TV are connected to the same ground supply and each other, it makes a circle that hums or hisses.
- Your speaker’s gain might be too high. People often confuse gain with volume. High volume can damage the speakers, but increasing the gain will let the volume go higher, which causes irreparable damage. If the gain is too high on your speakers, primary playing device, or software, there will either be a humming or hissing sound.
- Blown speakers cause all sorts of odd noises. Crackling, hissing, ticking, and more audio issues are present when your speakers are blown. Check the wire coils and cones to ensure they’re intact. Also, ensure the fabric is connected to the speaker’s cone without any loose ends or holes.
- Audio effects can play hissing or humming sounds through your speakers. Changing your music or movies via digital software can alter the sound quality. There also could be different effects you’re using that don’t sound as prominent as they do once you play them through your speakers.
Hissing is worse than humming because it can cause headaches and ruin the audio quality. The good news is there are many ways to fix it.
Now that you know all of the reasons hissing and humming might affect your speakers, it’s time to follow our proven step-by-step solutions to tackle the problem once and for all.
Stop the Audio System’s Ground Loop
Ground loops can cause your audio system to hum, hiss, buzz, and more. This issue is typically caused by too many connections to one ground port.
If you have loads of electrical devices that rely on one area, you might be experiencing a ground loop. Ground loops are some of the most common beginner errors.
Too Many Devices Are Connected to the Same Ground
As briefly mentioned above, a ground loop can cause your speakers to hum or hiss. The good news is you can fix this problem by trying one of several methods.
As long as you can connect them to different AC/DC lines, you can break the loop.
The primary goal is to prevent your devices from running through the same current.
Power Moving Through the Connections Makes a Hum or Hiss
If you have two or more speakers connected to the same ground line and they’re both hissing, it’s likely a ground loop.
One rumbling speaker typically indicates there’s an internal issue, but both of them making the same noise often shows there’s an electrical problem.
Head to the final step if you believe this is the issue.
Switch to Different Ground Connections
Unfortunately, using a power strip isn’t always the best fix. Connect the sound system and speakers to separate outlets. This quick process will break the loop, stopping the hum or hiss in its track.
Note: A top and bottom plug don’t count as different outlets! You have to use two different sources from separate locations in the room.
Once you’ve tried these helpful fixes, you can be sure the problem isn’t related to a ground loop. If they got rid of the hissing or humming, it’s still a good idea to finish the article to prevent it from returning down the road.
Some causes can be dangerous or harmful to your equipment, shortening its longevity.
Inspect the Speaker’s Wires
Faulty or loose wires are some of the most common reasons for various electrical noises. If your speakers, amplifier, computer, or other sound production equipment make a hiss or hum, always inspect their wires.
Here’s what you can do to check the wires:
- Check if the wires are loose on all ends. Even if the wires are slightly loose or partially disconnected, they can ruin the audio quality. It also allows for electrical arcing, a process that causes electricity to jump from the wires to the source, opening the possibility of sparks, overheating, and fires.
- Inspect each wire for damage or exposure. Much like loosened wires, these issues can cause several dangerous scenarios. If you notice the wires are exposed, either get new ones or wrap the exposed parts in electrical tape. If the inner copper strands are broken, it’s time to get a new wire.
- Ensure the wires aren’t touching one another. Whether or not they’re exposed, your wires shouldn’t touch each other. When they’re pressed, tangled, or wrapped around each other, they’ll cause a hum or hiss that goes through the speakers. More wires wrapped will lead to a louder and more apparent noise.
- Remove all unnecessary wires that aren’t related to the speaker system. If they don’t help produce sound, they shouldn’t be in the area. This includes router wires, phone charging cables, lamp plugs, and so on. These wires can cause the previously mentioned sounds, so you should switch them to another part of the room.
- Consider organizing the wires for long-term prevention. The O’Hill Cable Clips keep your wires organized without spreading them too far apart. They won’t take up much room, and none of the wires will touch each other. It also makes the audio setup look much neater and nicer!
Protecting and inspecting the wires is a surefire way to prevent electrical hazards. Loose connections can cause fires, overheating, and more. They’re also capable of permanently ruining your speakers. You should follow the same steps for all of the cable connections, too.
Figure Out if There’s Electrical Interference
Electrical interferences are often overlooked. It’s easy to assume your smartphone and other devices won’t cause problems since they’re modernized and made to interact with other tech gear.
However, overlapping signals can make your speakers hum or screech if they’re in close proximity to many electronics.
Move Electrical Devices Away from the Speakers
If you have a microphone, guitar, amplifier, or similar device near your speakers, it’ll cause audio interference. This issue is more apparent if you have multiple appliances.
Do your best to move anything unrelated to your speakers away from the area to eliminate or prevent unwanted interference and strange noises.
Keep WiFi Devices Out of Reach
WiFi routers create a signal throughout the building, which could interfere with your sound system. The good news is you don’t have to turn off the internet to use your speakers without interruptions.
Sometimes, all you need to do is place the router and modem a few feet away. The most important thing is to make sure they’re not touching or overlapping wires.
Put Distance Between the Audio Equipment
If you have a big home theater or recording studio, you should be able to space your audio equipment. You’ve probably noticed professional studios are quite large.
While this is partially designed to fit enough gear in the room, it’s also made to distance the equipment and prevent any potential ground loops.
Some fixes can be as simple as moving your speakers a couple of inches away, while others require changing the whole setup.
It’s worth mentioning that turning off your smartphone and other devices is often enough to stop the interference noises. If you’re sure this isn’t the problem, consider the USB possibilities below.
Look For Improper USB Connections
Most high-end speakers don’t use USB connections, but there are a handful of well-known options. A loose or incorrect connection can ruin a USB microphone or speaker.
This issue is present in USB microphones, too. While USB might not produce the best sound, many speakers get the job done when they’re in working order.
- Loose USB connections can hinder a USB speaker system. Lightly tug the USB cable; If it falls out, it’s too loose to use in your speaker setup. USB cables are notorious for having loose connections because they often pull the port and cause it to detach over time. Replacing the cable will do the trick.
- Make sure you’re using the correct USB port and cable. There are many different USB types. While they might connect to your speakers or computer, that doesn’t mean they’re the correct style. Check your speakers’ specs to ensure you’re using the correct, most updated model.
- Check if you have the right type of adapter. Much like it was mentioned in the suggestion above, using the wrong adapter will prevent optimal compatibility. You might notice strange sounds, loose connections, or random power cutouts that stop you from using your speakers. Also, check if the USB cables safety-certified.
- Test the USB connections on other devices (if they’re the source of the problem. If they’re loose on every port, you likely need a new USB cable. On the other hand, if it’s only loose or doesn’t function properly with your speakers, you either have a speaker port issue, or you’re using the wrong USB type.
Some USB noises are inevitable, so you could get a suppressor sleeve. These covers limit the humming coming out of the USB connection.
Fortunately, you might notice the noise comes from the port, not the speakers. If this is the case, a sleeve will be more than enough to stop it from returning.
Adjust the Volume, Gain, Bass, and Treble
Depending on your speakers’ quality, the bass, treble, volume, and gain could affect their performance.
All speakers are prone to buzzing or hissing, but low-quality setups are much more likely to experience these issues since they’re a bit sensitive to minor adjustments.
Also Read: Why Powered Speakers Hiss (and What To Do About It)
So, what can you do to eliminate the humming from these settings?
- High volume can blow speakers or cause low-end setups to buzz. Turn down the volume to find out if the hum or hiss is still present. If it is, then you might’ve harmed the speakers. Check the wire connections, cone, fabric, and coils in the back of the speakers for signs of damage.
- If the gain is too high, every small sound will be amplified. Raising the gain too much can be very bad. The gain lets you increase or decrease the volume’s threshold, which could be a problem for any speaker. We recommend leaving the gain a notch below the speaker’s overall capacity.
- Bass is known to cause humming when it’s too high. This issue is especially present in low-quality speakers that can’t handle the rumbling caused by the bass. If you have cheap subwoofers, blasting the bass will make them shake enough to dismantle the coil, wires, and other parts of the speaker.
- Extreme treble levels make a hissing sound. The treble can make your music sound clear and wonderful, but it can blow your tweeters. Treat your speakers like your ears; If anything gets too loud or the settings are too high, your ears will ring, as will your speakers. Follow this precaution whenever you’re making minor adjustments.
For many people, this four-step process is the first and only solution they need. It tackles the problem for amplifiers, computer speakers, full home entertainment systems, and more.
You can also highlight the source of the problem, letting you know if you need to repair anything on the speakers before playing more music.
Test Your Speakers With Other Sources
One of the quickest ways to know if your speakers are the problem or the device is to connect them to something else.
If there’s a hum on everything they’re plugged into, the chances are that your speakers are at fault. If not, it’s likely the device or a nearby interference that’s causing the humming, buzzing, or hissing noises.
Read more: 10 Common Speaker Problems and How to Fix Them
Plug Your Sound System Into a Computer
Computers are usually an accurate indicator of speaker troubles. You can make all sorts of adjustments to a computer’s software and hardware to play through your speakers.
Since you can’t try these adjustments on most other devices, you should start by plugging your speakers into your desktop or laptop and playing a song with mild bass and treble.
Try Using a TV or Projector
TVs might not have as many adjustments as computers, but many people use their TVs with a home entertainment system.
If your TV is your primary outlet for your speakers, set them up with several feet between the TV and speakers to limit audio interference.
If you notice the hum or hiss on the computer and TV, it’s time to try the final suggestion.
Consider Trying the Speakers at a Friend’s House
If all else fails, why not bring your speakers elsewhere? You can eliminate a host of probable causes. Speakers that make strange noises whenever they’re plugged in often have internal issues.
These problems might include loose wires, damaged cones, and other causes mentioned throughout this page.
While it might be frustrating to know your speakers are causing the issue, it gets rid of numerous possibilities. After all, the fix might be as simple as getting a new cable or switching to another output.
Read more: Do Hi-Fi Speakers Wear Out? What You Need To Know
For those who create music, interviews, videos, and other content on their computer and notice a buzzing from their speakers, read on.
Reduce Your Audio Effects if Possible
If you’re editing music and other audio content on your computer, you might be adding too many effects for your speakers to handle. Some sound effects aren’t as clear on a computer or through low-end headphones as they will be through speakers.
It’s best to make adjustments as you go, but if you notice any odd sounds after you’re finished, try these tips:
- Edited files can be compressed or clipped too much, which makes them produce buzzing sounds. Too much editing warps and distorts audio tracks, so it’s crucial to keep the adjustments to a minimum. If you’re listening to movies or other videos made by professional companies, these changes have already been made, so you don’t need to alter them.
- Some effects are designed to hum, so make sure it’s happening with anything playing through the speakers, not just a specific song. If your speakers are humming and making strange sounds on every track or video, they’re likely the problem. However, listen closely to the effects you add; Some aren’t as appealing as they seem!
- Place personalized music in an editing program and reduce the gain and other settings. Slightly lowering the gain will reduce the chance for low-quality speakers to hum or hiss since they’ll have a lower threshold. You could also consider lowering the bass a bit if you don’t want the rumble of cheap speakers.
- Add a noise gate to your audio files. Noise gates are designed to prevent unintended noises from playing through your speakers. People often add them to limit white noise, which causes a constant hum or buzz. If you’re making music or editing your homemade films, noise gates could be the sole solution you need.
Making your own music is an exciting process, but your speakers will tell the truth of what it actually sounds like. Fortunately, you can go back to your editing software and make these minor corrections to fix the humming or hissing.
Trial and error can combat the audio distortions and interruptions until you’re satisfied with the results.
Faulty Cables Could Be the Problem
Much like USB connections and wires, your speakers’ cables could be the source of the humming or hissing you’re experiencing. Lean close to the cables to see if you can hear anything that sounds out of place. If it doesn’t, you know there’s an issue with the cable, port, or both.
Here’s the five-step procedure to check your cables:
- Unplug every cable connected to your speakers. It’s essential to disconnect everything, even if you think there’s no way specific cables could cause the hum. Using a process of elimination will indicate which cables need to be replaced, repaired, or tighten into your sound system.
- Plug each cable individually, listening to them closely. Start with the cables furthest from the speakers. You could plug and unplug each cable to find the one that’s responsible.
- Locate cables that make a humming or hissing sound. When you find out which one is causing the sound, you can choose to repair, tighten, or replace it.
- Replace any cables or wires that make this noise. Most speaker cables are relatively inexpensive. If it’s not working after tightening or using electrical tape, we suggest you replace it. Find out which type you need with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Check if the noise is coming from the transformer’s wires. Not all speakers use transformers, but you can add one to almost any setup. Since many companies have them installed in their sound systems before shipping them, you should check if your system has one. If the transformer is humming, you might need to rewire or replace it.
Replacing cables isn’t usually too expensive, which means your solution might be right at your fingertips. Many people assume these issues are inevitable if they notice humming or hissing right away.
By getting compatible cables, you can be done with all sorts of audio interferences for a long time.
Now that you know why your speakers are making humming or hissing noises, you can fix the problem with our various solutions. Most of the time, it’s related to an electrical issue or interference.
However, blown speakers or audio effects can cause plenty of issues, too. Go through each step to fix the humming for good.