Troubleshooting can be a very stressful thing when it comes to speakers. Especially when all you want to do is listen to your favorite songs without the sound of a bumblebee in the background or a humming sound overshadowing them.
Why are my speakers buzzing?
Speakers buzzing can be anything from having loose connections, a ground loop, or even in simple cases, the volume being too loud. Going step by step through each possible cause is the best way to fix your speakers from buzzing.
Lets go into more detail.
How to stop speakers from buzzing
1. Check the Connections
Perhaps one of the simplest ways of troubleshooting is to make sure that there are no loose connections anywhere. Often times in the most complex of audio systems, there could be multiple inputs, outputs and wires being used.
It is important to check everything is connected correctly and plugged in. The wires and cables should be flush with the connection on the speaker.
Another thing to note is there may be dust or dirt stuck on the inside of the inputs, or on the wires. If there is anything on them, you can clean them with a small bit of alcohol and a q-tip. Note: Be sure to look up the type of alcohol you are using, some can damage your ports and wires.
You can also blow into the ports with just your mouth, or preferably use a compressed air can.
2. Fixing a Ground Loop
I remember a couple of years ago I just purchased an amplifier and I was so excited to test it out! To my dismay, I heard a humming or buzzing noise coming from my speakers.
I spent hours researching and testing different things but nothing was working until I came across a ground loop. I never heard of it before and I was a bit concerned when seeing the words, but it is not a major problem and was fixed quite easily.
This is the sound I was hearing:
A ground loop occurs when a system of two or more devices is connected through different paths, which causes unwanted external noise.
There are two main ways to solve a ground loop.
- The simplest way is to remove one of the ground paths from your system, in doing so you are converting it to a single point ground.
- If this is not an option for you, the other option is to use a device called an isolation transformer (It’s not as scary as it sounds!).
Without getting too technical, an isolation transformer allows all of your cables signal pass freely, thus breaking the ground loop.
3. Test for Frequency Interference
Another cause for your speakers’ buzzing may be frequency interference, also known as radio frequency.
It is more common for this to occur in wireless speakers, but it can still occur in others. Especially if the audio cables are poorly shielded, which is more common in budget speakers.
This frequency interference can come from external sources such as the TV signal, radio stations or other wireless equipment such as another speaker or microphone.
Other common sources of Radio Frequencies include:
- Computer Monitor
- Fluorescent lights
- Unstable Power Supply
- Any external devices such as USB, hard drive, etc.
One way of testing if this is the issue is to turn off these external speakers one-by-one while checking if the problem has been resolved between each one.
If a radio frequency source cannot be removed, you can attach a cheap ferrite bead to your cable. More expensive speakers will have electromagnetic shielding, so keep this in mind when referring to this option.
4. Tweak the volume
More often than not, the volume is the culprit when it comes to buzzing in your speakers. If this is the case, you’re in luck because it is quite an easy issue to solve.
Why does high volume cause speakers to buzz?
All speakers are powered by an amplifier, which takes a low level-signal as input and pushes it through the speakers to create sound. When there is no input, the amplifier basically amplifies the background noise. As you increase the volume, you will hear more noise.
There is always this background noise, but speakers that have a better, more powerful amplifier won’t have this problem.
The noise you actually hear is the amplifier running. A great way of describing it is this; if your speakers’ amplifier is 100W and you have it at full volume, the speaker will use the full 100W which causes it to create more noise.
If you use a speaker that has a more powerful amplifier, you won’t have to turn it up as much to get your desired volume, so it won’t create as much noise.
So check if turning down your volume to 75% or below fixes the issue and if it does, you know its the speakers amp causing the problem.
5. Try a different Audio Input
Many speakers come with multiple audio inputs. Try unplugging your cable from the current one, and plug it into the other audio input. Sometimes one input can be loose and the cable cannot get a ‘flush’ connection with the speaker.
6. Changing Speaker Cable
Whether it’s from wear and tear, or it’s just a dodgy cable, sometimes the little wires inside can become damaged. When this happens, the connection between the speaker and your device is flawed which can cause noise or distortion.
Usually, this happens near the top of the cable where it plugs in. Try wiggling the cable gently and hold it in certain positions to see if it will work then. If it does, you know that one of the wires inside is damaged and you can try to narrow down the location of it.
You can try creating your own contraption that holds the cable in place with either a piece of string or tape, but don’t expect this to work in the long run.
If you have the experience, this can be an easy fix as it just involves stripping back the insulation and twist them together. However, this is not recommended if you are new to this. You are better off buying a new cable altogether.
7. Update your Audio Drivers
Drivers are needed for your computer to properly run your components, like speakers. Over time, they can become outdated as new updates roll out which can cause compatibility issues if not updated.
It’s a really simple task to do and hopefully solves your issue.
Step 1. Click the Windows icon in the bottom left and type “Device Manager” into the search box.
Step 2. Find and click the arrow at “Audio Input and Outputs” and “Sound, video and game controllers”. This will show a list of all your audio devices.
Step 3. Right-click on all of the devices and click “Update Driver”.
Step 4. Once they are all updated, restart your computer and see if the buzzing has stopped.
Alternatively, you can go to your speaker manufacturers’ website and download the latest drivers there.
Note: If you are on Mac, make sure you have the latest OS Update as the drivers are installed and updated automatically with it.
8. Check if your Speaker is Blown
A blown speaker is every music lover’s worst nightmare. There are ways of fixing it at home yourself, but it is recommended you either get a professional to repair it or buy new speakers altogether.
How to check if your speaker is blown
Step 1. There should be a couple of screws on the front panel of your speaker, usually 3 or 4. Unscrew these screws which will reveal the speaker’s membrane. Be careful here as it is delicate.
Step 2. While using a torch, gently run your finger across the membrane and see if you can feel any hole or tear. Alternatively, play some low-volume music which may make the hole stand out.
Step 3. If you do find a hole, disconnect the power and rub a small amount of rubber cement over it. Be sure to spread it evenly across it.
We hope this guide helped you in finding the cause of your speakers buzzing. It can be an annoying experience, and there is no better feeling than solving the problem. Hopefully, you are left with speakers that produce clear sound and no more buzzing.
You may also be interested in the best Yamaha Bookshelf Speakers.