Home / Audio / Speakers / Hissing Sound From Speakers When Not Playing Music

Hissing Sound From Speakers When Not Playing Music


What can cause a hissing sound from speakers when not playing music? If you hear a hissing sound coming from your speakers when you’re not playing music, it could be indicative of a few different issues. Another typical cause can be faulty cables. Damaged or worn-out cables can introduce interference and result in unwanted background noise.

Another potential culprit could be a mechanically induced hum. Ground hum is a low-frequency noise caused by an improper grounding connection. This can be especially noticeable in audio systems without proper grounding. Blown speakers can also contribute to a hissing sound.

If the speaker’s cone is damaged or torn, it can create distortion and produce a hissing noise. Poor wiring is yet another cause to consider. If the wiring inside the speakers or the connections between the speakers and the audio source are not properly configured, it can result in unwanted noise.

Why Does A Speaker Hum And Hiss?

A speaker may hum and hiss due to various reasons. One particular reason could be a faulty or damaged speaker component. If the speaker’s diaphragm or cone is damaged, it may create unwanted noise when they reproduce audio signals.

Additionally, poor quality audio equipment or a weak amplifier can also contribute to the humming and hissing sounds. In such cases, the low-quality components struggle to accurately reproduce the audio signals, resulting in distortion and noise.

Moreover, if the audio source itself is of low quality or there is a mismatch between the audio source and the speaker, it can also lead to hum and hiss. To solve these issues, one should investigate the source of interference, and ensure a proper match between the audio source and the speaker.

10 Reasons Why Your Speakers Are Making A Hissing Sound

A speaker hum or other noise caused by an electrical signal

If your speakers are making a hissing sound, it could be due to a few different factors. One common cause is a ground shunt, which can be eliminated by ensuring all audio equipment is properly grounded.

You can eliminate ground hum by properly grounding your audio equipment. Another possibility is a damaged audio cable or interference from other electronic devices. To eliminate hissing sounds, make sure all cables are in good condition and separated from power sources.

#1 Blown Speaker sound

Blown speakers can lead to a drastic decline in the sound quality of audio systems. When a speaker is blown, it means that its cone, voice coil, or other internal components have been damaged, resulting in distorted or no sound at all.

To restore optimal audio performance, replacing the blown speaker is necessary. Neglecting to do so can lead to further damage to the audio system, as the other speakers may try to compensate for the loss, causing them to work harder and potentially overload.

Additionally, listening to music or any other audio content with blown speakers can be quite underwhelming and disappointing, as the true essence and richness of the sound are lost.

Therefore, it is essential to promptly replace a blown speaker to regain the exceptional audio experience that a fully functioning audio system can provide.

#2 Damaged audio signal

A damaged audio signal that has interference can cause unwanted noise and distortion in the audio output.  These balanced cables have an additional conductor that carries the inverted version of the audio signal. This allows any unwanted interference to be cancelled out, resulting in a cleaner audio signal.

Minimizing the use of wireless devices and keeping them away from the audio setup can help prevent unwanted interference. Overall, by employing balanced cables, using an audio interface, and minimizing the use of wireless devices, the audio signal can remain undamaged and free from interference.

#3 Unbalanced audio cables

Unbalanced cables consist of two conductors, a positive and a negative, which carry the audio signal. Speaker wire, another type of unbalanced cable, is specifically designed for connecting speakers to an audio source. It is usually composed of two conductors encased in a protective outer sheath.

To minimize interference, shielded auxiliary cords are often used in professional audio setups. Despite their limitations, unbalanced cables are still widely used and continue to be a practical choice for many audio setups, especially those with shorter distances and minimal interference.

#4 Amplifier bad ground causing an audible hum

When an amplifier has a bad ground connection, it can lead to various issues that affect the sound quality. It is often caused by poor wiring, where the ground wire is not properly connected to the amplifier or is damaged.

Often, these grounding issues stem from poor wiring which may result from attempts to do the wiring oneself without proper knowledge, carelessly, or by accidently messing up the wiring. It is important to double-check all connections, and especially the grounding connections, on your amplifier to avoid these issues.

The power cable, too, plays a significant role, as it serves as the source of electricity; any faults or errors in its connection can lead to ground loop issues. Therefore, for pristine sound clarity, it is crucial to ensure all parts of the amplifier, especially its ground, are accurately and securely connected to maintain the intended sound quality.

#5 Electromagnetic interference

Essentially, Electromagnetic interference (EMI) typically refers to the disturbance caused to an electrical circuit due to the presence of electromagnetic fields or radio waves in its vicinity.

One main factor leading to this effect is magnetic interference, whereby an external magnetic field impacts the functioning of an electrical circuit or digital system. The extent of the EMI tends to be quite substantial, leaving a discernible impact on the device concerned.

For instance, EMI can often lead to malfunctioning or errors in digital to analog converters (DACs). EMI hampers their overall functioning and performance, resulting in distorted output or signal degradation.

#6 Ground loops in your audio system

Ground loops in your audio system can significantly hinder the clear and crisp reception of sound. This ground loop hum, often perceived as a buzzing or humming noise, is not only annoying but can also degrade the quality of the input signal, making it harder to enjoy the sound from your audio system.

Ground loops are most common in large audio systems that have multiple components plugged into various power outlets. A typical example is connecting your computer to the stereo and experiencing a noticeable buzz. To maintain optimum audio quality, it is crucial to identify and eliminate ground loops, ensuring that electrical signals travel the desired path only.

#7 AC Line Noise

A ground loop is often caused by AC electrical signals in your car’s electrical system interfering with the input signal. This continuous AC device interference can introduce an AC line hum, which can cause a persistent your car speakers. Plus, this noise can be annoying and detract from the overall listening experience.

To eliminate this AC line hum from your car speakers, one must take measures to interrupt any ground loop that can produce noise. By doing so, we can eliminate AC line hum in your car speakers, thereby enhancing the quality of the audio.

#8 Radio Frequency Interference

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is a common issue that pertains to the disturbance caused by an outside source that affects an electrical circuit through electromagnetic induction or radiation. This type of disturbance can oftentimes be created by a number of devices, one of which is a USB cable.

The term ‘USB cable noise’ refers to the interference caused by these cables which can sometimes affect the normal functioning of the connected devices. It happens in the radio frequency band and can cause data transmission errors.

To counter RFI, various devices have been devised to have limited frequency response, meaning they only respond or operate within a specific frequency range, thereby minimally picking up unwanted signals. Understanding and handling RFI properly is crucial to maintaining the efficacy of various wireless communications and technological tools.

#9 Computer or Transformer noise

The ambient sounds that everyday electronics and appliances create may often go unnoticed, but when it comes to both the computer noise and the transformer noise, they can be quite invasive.

Computer noise typically emanates from processes like cooling fans, hard disk operations, or compact disk drives, while transformer noise usually arises from the vibrations of its internal components.

Notably, these noises not only disrupt the tranquility of a workspace, but they can also introduce noise – unwanted electronic signals that distort true data in the system.

For instance, if a computer or transformer is connected to a power strip with multiple other devices, the additional electrical load might increase the noise levels. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure optimal power allocation and monitor the ambient noise levels to maintain a comfortable working environment.

#10 Analog sound on the input signal

Analog sound on the input signal is a method of processing and recording sound that contrasts greatly with the modern approach of digital audio signal. Unlike its digital counterpart which represents sound waveforms as binary data, analog sound embodies the principle of creating a replica of the original sound wave, keeping the raw, authentic quality of the original audio sequence.

Nevertheless, analog sound inevitably comes with an inherent noise, merely due to the physicality of the process. This noise may manifest as a persistent hiss or humming, which can take away from the purity of the original sound to some extent.

For that reason, professional audio monitors often prefer digital audio signal for its clarity, lack of ambient noise, and the large amount of data that it can store efficiently. Yet, despite the prevalence of digital input signals, the charm and character captured in analog sound remain appreciated by many audiophiles and music enthusiasts.

How to Fix Hissing Sound From Speakers

A hissing sound is normally caused by inference in the output audio signal. One of the most suitable tools to fix this problem is a USB noise filter. It works by discerning and eliminating the unwanted hiss and background noise from the output signal, improving clarity.

Similarly, a ferrite noise suppressor sleeve, which is a simple clip-on accessory, can come in handy. The sleeve, when attached to a wire, absorbs the noise signals flowing through the wire and returns them as heat, enhancing the sound quality.

Moreover, an AC power regulator ensures a consistent, clean, and constant power supply to the audio equipment. These tools work to improve the output signal by removing the irrelevant sounds and disturbances.

Preventing Hiss or Hum From Speakers When Not Playing Music

A ground loop acts as an antenna and causes an electromagnetic interference

One of the most common issues encountered by individuals using audio devices is the unwanted hiss or hum from speakers when they are not playing music. These annoying noises can primarily emanate from the AC power mains plugs or fluctuations in the AC line voltage. The hum often gets worse when the electrical appliances plugged into the same power outlets switch on and off.

Therefore, inspecting your power mains plugs and outlets and ensuring they are not influencing the audio line can potentially reduce the noise. Routing all your audio cables away from sources of AC mains and power supplies can also help alleviate the hum.

Another effective way to prevent this hum or hiss is to transmit data wirelessly. This eliminates the use of physical cables that are susceptible to RF carrier signal interference, hence reducing the chances of noise in your speakers.

This noise can be quite disruptive and irritating, but there are ways to prevent it. The most prevalent cause of such interference is an irregular AC line voltage from the power strips.

AC power mains plugs may not have a stable flow of electricity, leading to fluctuations and noise in the speakers. Another possible source of noise is RF carrier signals used to transmit data wirelessly. These signals from wireless devices and routers can interfere with your audio system and produce a hiss or hum.

Tips To Protect Your Audio Equipment From A Low Hissing Noise

One key factor which contributes towards hissing noises is the usage of cheap speakers. They often lack the quality components necessary to produce clear sound, resulting in hissing and other various sound distortions.

Regularly checking all your audio equipment can also aid in identifying any operational irregularities that could lead to a persistent low hiss. Resolving these issues in the early stage will prevent any further damage.

Ground loop safely is another effectively proven technique to combat hissing noises. Handling equipment improperly can result in ground loop, which in turn, causes the unwanted hiss.

To remove ground hum, use a ground loop isolator or power conditioners, turning your setup into a quiet, comfortable listening environment. Following these tips not only protects your audio system but also improves sound quality.

Last Updated on: October 20, 2023

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar