Have you ever experienced that irritating hissing sound emanating from your speakers even when you’re not playing any music? It can be a real buzzkill, especially when you’re trying to enjoy some peace and quiet.
The most common and the main culprit is interference which can be caused by other electrical devices interfering with the signal and this can result to the annoying hiss.
If you’re tired of the hissing and want to regain control over your audio experience, you’re in the right place. In this guide, I will be highlighting some of the common reasons why speakers make noise when not playing music and potential remedies.
What causes speakers to Hiss When Not Playing Music?
1. Power Cord Problems
One of the common culprits behind the persistent hissing from your speakers is power cord problems. It could be as simple as a frayed or damaged power cord.
Here’s what you can do to tackle power cord problems:
- Inspect the Cord: Carefully examine your power cord for any visible damage, such as fraying or exposed wires. If you find any issues, it’s time for a replacement.
- Try a Different Outlet: Sometimes, the power source itself might be the issue. Plug your speakers into a different outlet to see if the hissing persists.
- Invest in Quality Cables: High-quality power cords can significantly reduce the chances of interference. Consider investing in reliable, shielded cables for your speakers.
2. Unbalanced or Bad Cables
If you own studio monitor speakers with ports for speaker cables rather than speaker wire on the rear, the hissing sound could be caused by either or both of these cables failing. Cables deteriorate and must be replaced on a regular basis. The solution to this would be to replace the audio input cables for your speakers.
However, if your speakers don’t have individual audio input ports, you may be forced to upgrade to new audio monitors. Alternatively, you can purchase some cheap speakers that probably won’t make any noticeable hissing sound.
Additionally, unbalanced audio cables can also trigger this problem, and so if you have a bunch of cables lying around your stereo speakers, you may want to separate them.
Professional audio monitors are more susceptible to this type of noise. If you have an audio monitor, you will find different ports at the back of the speaker- and if the audio input cord is connected to the RCA port, it’s likely unbalanced.
Additionally, 3.5mm aux cords and ¼ inch instrument cables can also be unbalanced. It’s pretty simple to tell by looking at the jack- for instance, if it has just one black ring, then it’s unbalanced, and two rings, it will have a balanced signal.
Unbalanced speaker cables have two wires- one’s responsible for the audio signal while the second one helps shield against interference. On the other hand, balanced cables feature an additional wire that gives a negative polarity hence canceling out interference and background noise.
You should opt for balanced and shielded auxiliary cords over TS and RCA cables.
But if the speakers have a balanced ¼ inch port, I would highly recommend the Hosa HSS-010 REAN cable available on Amazon.
3. Electromagnetic Interference
Electromagnetic interference, often abbreviated as EMI, is a sneaky culprit when it comes to hissing sounds from your speakers when you’re not playing music. Understanding how EMI works can help you pinpoint and eliminate the issue.
EMI is like an invisible ghost in your audio system, causing disturbances when you least expect it. It occurs when electromagnetic radiation from various electronic devices interferes with the signal in your speaker cables
Ideally, the hissing noise would become louder as you approach your speakers. Well, it’s important to note that you aren’t the problem in this case- and the probable culprit is the smartphone in your pocket.
Smartphones aren’t the only thing that can cause amplify the hissing noise; of course, other electronic devices such as Wi-Fi modems, computers, routers can have the same effects.
Fixing Electromagnetic Interference
- Identify EMI Sources: Start by identifying potential sources of EMI in your vicinity. These can include Wi-Fi routers, smartphones, or other electronic devices. Keeping them away from your audio setup can make a significant difference.
- Use Shielded Cables: opt for shielded speaker cables, as they are designed to minimize the impact of electromagnetic interference.
- Ground Your Equipment: Ensure that your audio equipment and speakers are properly grounded. A good ground connection can help dissipate unwanted interference.
4. The Amplifier Electronic Circuit
If the speakers include integrated amplifiers, this could potentially be the source of the hissing. Although having built-in amps is highly convenient, there is not much you can do to get rid of hissing noise in this case.
Because the amp always sends some power to the speakers, you will always hear a faint buzz, hum or hiss when no music is playing. It’s usually not too loud, but it’s impossible to get rid of.
Consider External Amplification: If the hissing persists, you might want to explore the option of external amplification, which can offer better control and fewer noise-related issues.
If you have external speakers, here is what you can do: Check the Amplifier Settings: Review the amplifier settings on your speakers. Adjust the gain, volume, and other settings to ensure they are optimized for your audio source.
Isolate the Amplifier: Isolating the built-in amplifier from the source of potential interference, such as other electronic devices or cables, can help reduce hissing.
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5. Radio Frequency Interference
RFI refers to the unwanted electromagnetic interference that disrupts the functioning of radio frequency (RF) equipment. It’s like that annoying static on your favorite radio station, but in the world of technology. RFI can affect various devices, including radios, TVs, Wi-Fi networks, and more.
Here are some strategies to mitigate the effects of radio frequency interference:
- Identify RFI Sources: Start by identifying potential RFI sources in your vicinity. Is there a nearby radio tower or multiple wireless devices? Reducing their proximity to your audio system can help.
- Use Shielded Cables: Once again, high-quality shielded cables can be your best friend in minimizing RFI’s impact on your audio.
- Consider Ferrite Beads: Ferrite beads can be attached to your cables to absorb and reduce RFI. They act as a barrier between the interference and your audio signal.
An ideal gadget I can recommend to help you get rid of the radio frequency interference is the Shure A15RF RF Filter, XLR In/Out, Passes Phantom Power.
6. Dust and Debris in the Speaker
One common cause of hissing sounds is the presence of dust and debris inside the speaker components. Over time, these particles can accumulate, leading to interference with the speaker’s performance.
Dust and debris can accumulate on the speaker cones, grills, and internal components, causing interference and that burstiness of hissing sounds. To remedy this, gently clean your speakers using a soft brush or compressed air. Pay special attention to the areas where dust may have settled. This maintenance task ensures that your speakers can perform optimally.
To prevent future buildup, establish a regular maintenance schedule for your audio equipment. This not only addresses the current issue but also proactively maintains your gear.
7. Unplug the Speakers
Simple as it sounds, unplugging the speakers when they are not in use is the only sure way to ensure you get rid of the noise problem.
Some speakers have an off/on switch at the back, but it’s best to simply unplug them if yours doesn’t.
In the case of speaker systems powered by an amplifier, it’s advisable to power down the amplifier as well. Essentially, by cutting off the power supply to your entire audio system, you can prevent any unwanted noises when the system is not in use. It’s a straightforward solution to maintain audio silence during idle periods.
Hissing Noise from Speaker When Playing Music
When a speaker is blown, it typically exhibits peculiar sounds like hissing, buzzing, or a flapping noise when music plays. However, these sounds are absent when no music is playing. This distinction can serve as a reliable indicator to discern whether you are facing one of the previously mentioned issues or indeed dealing with a blown speaker.
In the unfortunate event that your speaker is indeed blown, it’s essential to note that a blown speaker is irreparable. In such cases, the best course of action is to replace it with a new one.
On Hissing Sound from Speakers When not Playing Music
In conclusion, the hissing sound from your speakers when not playing music can be frustrating, but it’s a challenge that can be overcome. By understanding the potential causes, implementing the suggested solutions, and taking preventive measures, you can ensure your audio system remains free from interference.
Whether it’s power cord problems, unbalanced cables, electromagnetic interference, built-in amplifiers, or radio frequency interference, you now have the knowledge to address these issues effectively.
Remember, the goal is to enjoy your audio in its purest form, with no unwanted background hiss. Take these tips to heart, and you’ll be well on your way to an audio experience that’s as crisp and clear as the day your speakers were unboxed.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.