White noise is a frustrating yet common audio problem resulting in unpleasant static produced by a sound system. It can be loud and disruptive, so figuring out its causes and fixes are essential to the sound quality of your speakers.
What Causes White Noise From Speakers?
White noise from speakers is often due to high gain, speaker and cable damage, or cable interference. It can sound like static, hissing, humming, or crackling. As a result, examining the equipment and lines for damage or wear and tear is the first step to fixing white noise from speakers.
A few other possibilities can cause annoying white noise, and learning what they are is the first step in fixing the issue. Please read on to explore the typical culprits—how you can fix them and how to test your speakers and accessories for overall damage.
Also read: How Does a Speaker Get Damaged and How to Prevent it?
1. High Gain or Ground Loop
The first thing to consider when you hear the sound of white noise is how high you have set your speaker’s gain. Gain refers to the volume of the preamplification stage of a speaker.
When the gain is high, the produced sound is distorted, fuzzy, and staticky—much like white noise. While this is useful in some musical contexts, it generally isn’t a sound quality that musicians seek.
Ground loop, however, happens when you plug cables into multiple outlets in the room simultaneously.
The electrical interference creates a distorted echo that amplifies through the speaker, similar to the echo you might hear if you’re video-calling someone in the same room. Luckily, this is also a straightforward fix.
How To Fix
The solutions are simple:
Turn down the gain and volume on your speaker! The button will be labeled gain or drive—you will usually locate it on the back or top of the device. This process will reduce the strength behind the initial signal, lowering the distortion.
If there is no gain dial, it’s best to turn the volume down (since musicians typically use them on amplifier speakers). You’ll notice that you’ll hear that distorted white noise if you turn the gain or volume way up without playing any music (without sending any signals to the speakers).
If you think the issue is a ground loop, try buying a power bar such as the Mifaso 2-pack Surge Protector from Amazon. You can use this handy as one single outlet for the speaker plugs.
This product removes the echo and thus eliminates the white noise from the equipment. Its sleek and compact design also reduces clutter.
Power bars are also sold at some music stores and most hardware stores and are generally the easiest solution to fixing ground loops.
You can test both by simply turning the speaker on and listening once the gain and volume dials are adjusted and you have removed the ground loop. If the white noise has disappeared, you’ve solved the problem!
If not, there are other possible reasons your speaker is producing white noise.
2. Your Speaker Wires Are Broken or Tangled
Speakers function off electrical cables plugged into an outlet. When the wires are broken or tangled up, they can produce white noise. That’s because a bunch of tangled electrical cables can create radio frequency interference, which gets turned into white noise and amplified by the speaker.
Before examining or adjusting any cables, ensure the speaker is unplugged from the main outlet to avoid injury.
How To Fix
After your equipment is unplugged from the primary power source and using a bright light, begin to examine the cables attached to your speaker closely.
When you’re checking for cable damage, you should specifically keep an eye out for cracked and fraying wires. Inspect the cable from the point it connects to the speaker to the power outlet.
Detangling your cables will make this process easier. When the electrical signals between tangled cables intersect, it will distort the audio. Separate every cable to fix this issue, and look them over as you do so.
Additionally, you may consider buying an N Norocme Cord Organizer Kit (available on Amazon.com), which will provide you with the right gadgets to organize all the cables needed for entertainment systems.
The braided shield in the kit acts as a path to prevent radio interference. You won’t have to worry about that issue once you have detangled and organized your wiring.
Other items you can use to organize your cables include:
- Velcro straps
- Hooks or hangers
- Cable clips
Regardless of what you use, keeping all of your cables separate and organized will reduce clutter and the potential for radio frequency interference through your speakers.
3. Your Internal Speaker Is Damaged
Finally, suppose your gain is low, and you have organized your cables. In that case, internal speaker damage is the last potential problem that could cause white noise in your equipment. While the least ideal possibility, speakers wear out over time, degrading with age and use.
Sometimes, only small parts inside the speaker need tweaking or fixing. So, keep reading to diagnose and fix internal speaker damage.
How To Fix
How can you tell if you have internal speaker damage? It’s not necessarily an easy problem to diagnose, especially for anyone who doesn’t know much about this equipment.
To test your speaker for internal damage:
- Plug its cables into a different device (that you know works properly) and turn on the power.
- You can turn the volume up to listen for white noise or try to play a song to assess the sound quality.
- If there is no white noise, the cables are not the issue—your speaker has internal damage.
- If you still hear white noise with a different speaker, the cables create the distorted white noise, not your speaker.
This issue is good news, but you’ll still have to replace at least one piece of equipment. If your speaker has internal damage, you can do a few things before you have to replace the equipment.
- Check the warranty of the device. If it’s under warranty, send the product back to the company for fixing. Each company will have its warranty policy, so discuss the details with the technician who services your speaker.
- Take the speaker apart if possible and examine the speaker cone. If the speaker cone is damaged, it may produce many different sounds—ranging from quiet crackling to loud static. The solution could be as simple as replacing the cone.
If the cables are damaged, on the other hand, replacing them is the most convenient solution. Ensure that the lines you purchase are compatible with your speaker and outlets.
Ways To Protect Your Speakers From Damage
It’s essential to be proactive in how you treat your speakers in the future. Contrary to popular belief, various ways to prevent damage to your audio equipment exist. The best ways to protect your speakers are as follows:
The first preventative measure is not to blast your speaker’s volume. Cranking the volume or gain on the speaker can very easily cause internal damage to the equipment, primarily if the manufacturer didn’t design the speaker to reach total capacity. Ensure your speakers’ volume is lower than full to protect their internal pieces.
A second measure is to keep your speakers in a dry room. Damp rooms create moisture that can build up on your equipment and cause water damage, rendering the speakers useless.
On a similar note, your speakers should be kept free of dust and debris. Dust seeps into the speaker’s connectors and disrupts the electrical signals it sends.
Prevent Heat and Excess Sunlight
Keep your device away from rooms with direct sunlight and lots of heat. Speakers contain voice coils that help produce electricity and sound.
If these coils overheat, they will get damaged and alter the speaker’s sound. It would be best if you keep your equipment in a dry, cool room where the external environment can’t erode.
Take Care of Your Equipment
Finally, make sure you’re handling your equipment correctly. Safely transport the speakers if needed, avoid dropping them, and ask for help from a second person if you’re unsure how heavy they might be. Internal damage is typical for speakers treated poorly and will shorten your device’s lifespan.
In conclusion, if your speaker produces white noise, you’ll need to inspect the device and the electrical cables to diagnose the core problem. If you’re using frayed or broken wires, they will negatively affect the sound quality of your stereo system.
At the same time, tangled cables or ones wrapped around outlets can cause radio interference, producing that annoying white noise. Finally, a broken cone or other internal damage will make a wonky sound.
With this information in mind, along with what to do to fix the situation, you should find a way to rid your speaker of unpleasant sounds.
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.