There is almost nothing more frustrating than having your sound system setup only to hear a continuous hum coming from your subwoofer. Fortunately, while there are several reasons this could be happening, the solutions are not overly complicated.
A 60hz subwoofer hum is most consistently an issue with a ground loop error, induced noise from disrupted cables, issues with other devices plugged into the same stream of outlets, or malfunctions in the subwoofer itself. Fixing this issue depends on the root cause, so trial and error is at play.
Also read: Why Your Preamp Hums and How to Fix It
Fortunately, there are several components that are relatively standard that you can check into if your subwoofer is experiencing the dreaded hum.
Once you run through the process of elimination, you should be able to identify the root source of the hum and then address this issue respectively. Let’s take a closer look at the specific causes of a subwoofer hum and how to fix this issue.
Why Does my Subwoofer Make a Humming Noise?
You have taken significant time and effort researching the perfect sound equipment for your unique space, you diligently test out speaker placement, and you identify the perfect subwoofer for low-frequency audio emission.
Yet, as you turn on your devices, you notice an incessant humming that you identify as coming from your subwoofer. As frustrating as the hum itself is, it can be even more frustrating not knowing what is causing the subwoofer hum in the first place.
A subwoofer making a humming noise is most commonly an issue with the ground loop coming from differences in voltage between the subwoofer and your electric ground. Other causes include induced noise (often from disrupted cables with poor shielding), other devices in the same power strip, or issues with the subwoofer hardware.
Of course, since there can be a vast array of solutions that come from a similarly vast array of issues, it is important to more concretely understand the nature of the issues first.
Then, knowing what you are looking for, you can more accurately begin your trial and error until you have narrowed down the source of the subwoofer hum.
Regardless, you will want to know what is causing the hum so that you can address it. If not only for the appeasement and satisfaction of resolving this issue, you will be thankful not to have to listen to the 60hz hum coming from your subwoofer any longer.
You and your friends and family will not have to say, “What is that noise?” each time you begin to stream your favorite music or movies.
Let’s take a closer look at the main causes for why your subwoofer is making a humming noise:
Ground Loop Error
A ground loop error is one of the most prominent issues that can cause your subwoofer to hum. While there are other possibilities listed below, this issue is easily the most common culprit.
A ground loop error results from an ineffective stream of passing electricity. In a sense, the circuit becomes lodged or unable to seamlessly pass through to your subwoofer resulting in an incessant hum.
A ground loop error can occur when there are multiple devices plugged into the same power outlet, when your device is plugged in the wrong way (aka the circuit needs to pass by changing direction and plugging in the cable “upside-down”), or there are too many devices attempting to gain control of the ground from one device.
Thus, resolving these issues would result from trying various methods of locating the ground loop error and changing your setup.
Induced Noise from Disrupted Cables
Disrupted cables can also induce noise that causes your subwoofer hum to grind your gears for what will feel like hours to come.
Disruption of your cables can come from a similar result like a ground loop error, or it can also result from poor quality cables, to begin with. In either circumstance, you might need to change how your cables are connected or upgrade to higher quality tables.
For instance, a disrupted cable could mean that the cable you are connecting your subwoofer to power with is not receiving the appropriate amount or flow of electricity to power your subwoofer effectively. This could also mean that the shielding on your cable is not effectively protecting the passing signal, either.
Along with this, you may also find that the direction that the electricity is flowing is not effective for all parts of your sound system, so you might have to change the directionality of the electric flow. This can be done through reconnecting your cables in a more effective manner.
In either scenario, it is important to recognize the need for coaxial cables where appropriate and to address the cables themselves if they are ineffective and inducing the frustrating subwoofer hum.
Issues with Other Devices in the Same Power Strip
As mentioned above, another reason why your subwoofer might be making a humming noise might not have to do with your subwoofer but with other devices that are using the same power strip.
Since the connections with your subwoofer will be coming from the same source or signal of power that is affecting the other devices on the same power strip, it is important to take a look at each component and ensure appropriate connectivity.
For example, if you have a cable box plugged into the same power strip that your subwoofer is plugged into, and your cable box is fighting for the ground or otherwise has a disrupted signal, then this could consequently result in the subwoofer receiving the effects of this disrupted signal and giving off an annoying buzz or hum.
This is why it is so essential to check the subwoofer, the cables connecting it, the power source, and the other devices that are plugged into the same outlets or power strip that the subwoofer is using.
At the end of the day, a sound system setup requires precise connectivity in order for each component to be appropriately powered and ready for use (without resulting in an annoying hum.
Malfunctioning Subwoofer Parts
Finally, while this is not always the case, if your subwoofer is experiencing an incessant hum, it could be because the subwoofer itself is experiencing a malfunction or has some component that will require a repair. Now, this can be a bit trickier to figure out considering the complex interworking components of a subwoofer.
Still, it is important to note that while you would like to blame all of the other parts of your sound system setup, it might be best to focus on the piece of sound equipment that is actually at fault.
Knowing whether or not your subwoofer is the malfunctioning piece of your sound system can be a bit more tricky, but since there are many variables that could cause this, it is important to keep in mind an upgrade or taking the subwoofer to a technician to have it examined and potentially repaired.
How to Fix a Subwoofer Hum?
Ok, so it might be wonderful to look through a list of why your subwoofer is experiencing a hum, but finding a reasonable solution to be able to address this hum is what you are probably looking for the most.
Still, it is important to note that understanding what could be causing the subwoofer hum in the first place is the most essential step towards repairing the issue.
Considering the number of issues that could be resulting in your subwoofer giving off a 60hz hum, testing out the various potential problems could take awhile.
However, knowing where to start looking for these issues can help to eliminate some of the trial and error attempts- or at least hopefully give you a few ideas of where to begin your trials.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to fix a subwoofer hum depending on what is causing the hum in the first place.
How to Fix a Ground Loop Error Causing a Subwoofer Hum
If you are experiencing a ground loop error causing a subwoofer hum, there are a few solutions that you can attempt to try. If none of these solutions work, then you might need to hop to the next trial and error phase and test out other solutions. Still, know that since a ground loop error is one of the most common causes of a subwoofer hum, here are a few options to test out:
Reverse the polarity
One of the easiest methods for checking if you can resolve a ground loop error that is causing a subwoofer hum is by attempting to reverse the polarity of the electric signal that is being transmitted through your cables. While this might sound extraordinarily complex, it is a rather simple solution if it works.
All you have to do, in this case, is to take the currently plugged in subwoofer cable and reverse the position that you have it plugged in.
This means flipping the cable upside-down and changing which plug goes into the left and right holes. If you are using a 3-pronged cable, this will likely not work since you cannot just flip it over.
By reversing the polarity on a 2-pronged cable, you can potentially resolve the disrupted flow of the electrical current that could be causing your subwoofer to hum. While this result is not overly complex, it could be just the thing that could make your subwoofer cease to buzz.
Change the outlet you are using for the subwoofer
Another solution to fixing a ground loop error that could be causing your subwoofer to hum is to change the choice of outlet that you are using to plug in your subwoofer. Now, this could mean a variety of options.
First, this could mean that you will simply choose an alternative plug on the same power strip for your subwoofer. This might not do much, considering that the power stream would be in such close proximity, but it could still work if the issue is with the specific outlet that you had plugged your subwoofer into.
Another option could be to change power strips that you have your subwoofer plugged into. This might mean that you need to run an extension cord to plug your subwoofer in from another part of the room. While this can be frustrating to have to do, it will be less frustrating than the headache caused by the annoying subwoofer hum.
Plug other devices into alternative outlets
Finally, you can choose to use the same outlet for your subwoofer by trying to move the plugs of other devices (that are plugged into the same power strip as your subwoofer) into alternative outlets. This might mean a considerable amount of work to try to move all of the outlets besides your subwoofer.
However, if you are not able to plug your subwoofer into other outlets, and your other devices can reach, then you can try removing them.
Either way, the same attempt is happening, you are just choosing which device you want to remove from the same power strip so that the two can stop “fighting” for the same ground.
How to Fix Induced Noise from Disrupted Cables Causing a Subwoofer Hum
If disrupted cables are causing your subwoofer hum, this can be highly frustrating considering the number of cables that you have connected in your sound system. For this reason, it is easiest to select one source and work yourself backward as you test out different solutions. For example:
Test out each cable starting at the subwoofer
If you are experiencing induced noise from the disrupted cables, then you will want to test out the cables and see which one is causing the issue. But, unless one cable is screaming at you, then you might not know which one is the source of the problem.
Instead of taking many mishaps and testing (and then retesting) many of the same cables, you can start at the subwoofer and work your way to the power source. To do this, you can attempt to replace one cable at a time, examine the connection on this cable, and ensure that it is not the problem.
Of course, replacing the cables can become expensive, so you might just want to move around the parts that you have. Then, if this cable is still not the issue, you can move onto the next cable in your connection setup.
Upgrade your cables
If you still cannot resolve this but are confident that it might be a cable issue, consider upgrading to higher quality cables. This could be a slightly more expensive solution than what you were hoping to achieve, but if this means that you will not have to replace the parts on your subwoofer, then you will save yourself in the long run.
With upgrading your cables, or choosing appropriate cables for your subwoofer in the first place, you want to make sure that they are made of high-quality materials and also have durable shielding. This not only protects the cable itself but the device (including your subwoofer) that it is plugged into.
How to Fix Issues with Other Devices in the Same Power Strip as your Subwoofer
If testing out the different solutions for a ground loop error and trial and error in replacing or repairing the cables did not work, then you might want to consider if any of the other devices connected on the same power strip are causing the issues with your subwoofer hum. If you think this might be possible, consider doing the following:
Remove one device from the power strip at a time
To complete the process of elimination, you can unplug one device at a time from the power strip and test the subwoofer to see if it continues to hum in between these tests.
If you find that your subwoofer is no longer humming when you unplug the cable box, for example, then you know that the cable box’s connection is what is causing the hum.
This might mean that you need to adjust the connection with the cable box, or you can choose to remove the subwoofer and connect it to a separate outlet (as suggested above). This could also mean that you decide to repair the alternative device and its connection in your setup.
Space the plugs farther apart
If you have many devices connected to the same power strip, they might just need a little “breathing room” between them. This can help with a more seamless flow of the electricity from one device to another (or, in other words, from the source of the power to your subwoofer).
To resolve this issue, you can opt to have at least one unused plug in between each device plugged into your power strip. This might mean that you need to add in another power strip, or it could mean that you, again, choose another location to plug in your subwoofer in the first place.
Either way, you will be allowing your devices the room they need to emit and receive the appropriate signals.
Install an audio isolation transformer
By plugin in an audio isolation transformer, you can help to alleviate any issues that are coming from other devices plugged into the same power strip and can isolate the particular signal that needs to be sent to the subwoofer. In this way, your sub will receive exactly the signal that it needs without having to compete and buzz away.
How to Fix Malfunctioning Subwoofer Parts Causing a Subwoofer Hum
If you cannot find any issues with any of the other parts of your sound system that could be causing the subwoofer hum (the connections, cables, outlets, and other devices are all solid), then you need to consider that your subwoofer itself could be the problem.
If the internal workings of the subwoofer are malfunctioning and causing a subwoofer hum, you can consider the following:
Take your subwoofer to a technician
If you are not sure what is inside your subwoofer that is having issues, but you are confident that your subwoofer must be malfunctioning, then you can take your subwoofer to be repaired.
Hopefully, this will result in a minimal repair needed. Or, you might want to consider upgrading your subwoofer to a higher-quality if the repair will cost a lot in the first place.
Choose to listen to the hum
If you do not have any other reasonable solution, and you are in a bind, you might choose to leave the hum on your subwoofer and replace the part at another time.
If you have eliminated every other issue and are confident that the issue is not causing harm to other components in your sound system, you always have the option to just leave it and deal with the annoyance- although this is obviously not an ideal long term solution.
As soon as you are able, upgrading to a high-quality subwoofer can transform the overall quality of sound in your system.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.