Buzzing, humming, and popping from speakers is similar to a situation we’re all familiar with.
Remember eating outside on a nice sunny day and enjoying your time?
Everything was going well until a fly started buzzing around your head.
Not only were they buzzing, but they were always trying to go on your food.
This is probably the main reason we hate eating outside.
The same can be said for buzzing, humming, and popping from speakers.
At first, it’s annoying, but it evolves into a deeper problem.
And that problem is the realization that something is wrong with your speakers.
To find out how to fix that, let’s discuss the possible reasons why this happens.
Causes of Speakers Buzzing/Humming
These problems can be caused by different situations.
What we’ll do is list down the most common problems and help guide you to the right decision.
We aren’t physically with you, but this is the closest we can get to fixing your problem without actually doing it.
To start, let’s discuss buzzing/humming.
The 2 most common reasons buzzing and humming happens is:
- Blown Speaker
- Electrical Ground Loop
A blown speaker happens because you’re going too hard.
When speakers are pushed to the limit, it’s hard for it to maintain intensity.
To illustrate this, imagine eating fast.
Sure, you’ll keep up the pace for 3-5 minutes.
But after some time you’ll slow down because you’re feeling full.
If you keep on eating too much, then you’ll throw up.
Although not as fast, over time, the same applies to speakers.
Keep it overflowing with current, then it’ll result in blown out speakers.
Electrical Ground Loop
An electrical ground loop happens when 2 separate components are connected to the ground separately.
But then they’re also together because they’re connected.
Think of a half sister or half brother.
You have one common parent, but you’re also separated by one parent.
That one parent who is related to both children is the connector, while the other parent is part of the family loop.
With 2 different connections, current will start flowing in unanticipated ways.
This confusion between currents is what causes buzzing and humming.
Now that you know the reasons for buzzing and humming, let’s move on to why speakers start popping.
What Causes The Pop In My Speakers?
Popping and crackling are different than humming and buzzing.
What causes popping and crackling in speakers is a bad connection.
The real question is what component of the speaker is causing it.
The main reason why amps start popping is due to wear and tear.
Similar to cars becoming old.
When the mileage starts to add, the problems follow.
This is the same case with amplifiers.
The wear and tear process accelerates when you mishandle it.
Imagine playing your speakers too loud and the bass is going off.
The vibration from the bass causes the amplifier to shake loose.
It’s like basketball players playing the game for a long time and their knees start to give out from all the jumping.
Other components that’ll start to feel the wear and tear is transistors and capacitors.
The transistor is responsible for switching and amplifying electronic signals and electrical power.
While the capacitor is there to store potential energy.
Think of it as a reservoir for energy.
It’s no wonder the speaker starts popping when both start to wear out.
When a speaker starts getting old, it’s losing its energy bank and current controller.
All of this is due to wear and tear.
But these are not the only components affected by overuse.
We’ve discussed the importance of speaker wires before.
They’re important for any speaker that ever existed.
It’s important for current and sound quality.
So when your speaker wires are affected by wear and tear, the whole system will drop.
Depending on the severity of the wires, you can either replace them or fix them.
Be warned though, fixing your wires might make them worse if you’re not knowledgeable enough on what to do.
Make sure when you do get your speaker wires fixed, test them out afterward.
It’s the only way to really know if what you did is correct.
The connection between speaker wires, amplifiers, and audio output are all interconnected in one way or another.
It doesn’t matter how good everything is, if one part falls off then your sound system will come with problems.
Speakers don’t just break down from technical problems.
They can easily have popping occur because of what somebody else did.
Someone can bump into it the wrong way and cause a speaker wire to pinch.
Don’t you think that pinch in the wires will cause a connection to go awry?
Or what if the inside of the outdoor speakers you own experiences corrosion on the inside?
Do you think that’ll mess up the connection when it starts eating away at your coil and amplifier?
All these questions coincide with one theme.
They all ask how any type of damage will affect your speakers?
And then it makes you realize that everything in your speaker has to do with connection.
All that buzzing, humming and popping from speakers start with one component.
But it gets worse when multiple components get worse.
Make sure to understand this section to know where your problem comes from, then fix it.
Multiple Ways To Fix Buzzing/Humming
Let’s start with fixing a blown speaker first.
Fixing a blown speaker is like creative arts in elementary school.
We’re not trying to be condescending, but there isn’t much complexity in repairing a blown speaker.
The first step is to:
Buy a sewing thread.
Making sure the one you purchase matches your speakers is a plus (style points).
The next step is to:
Purchase a sewing needle.
Be careful when sewing because you might put it through your skin once or twice and start hating us.
The third step is to:
Any glue which is strong and non-porous will do the job.
If you have an outdoor speaker you’re trying to repair, then having a non-porous glue is a must.
You don’t want any rain getting in any of your speakers.
So purchasing something like rubber cement which is non-porous and strong will do.
Electrical Ground Loop
Testing for ground loop is the first step.
This is the same step doctors use.
An experienced doctor will know the problem but will do testing to make sure.
Testing for a ground loop is what an experienced electrician will do.
To start off testing, do some basic troubleshooting and narrow down your problem to get a better idea.
Do these 3 things to narrow down your problem:
Whenever we lose something we like to retrace our steps.
It’s the best way to find something because you’re eliminating other choices and making it easier for yourself to decide where to place your energy.
Simple questions to ask yourself regarding speakers is “what was happening before, during, and after the symptoms?”
Another great question is to ask yourself “what changes if any did I make to the speaker to cause this?”
Remeber, the purpose is to narrow down all other options just like the process of elimination.
After you’ve asked your questions, write them down because you could waste valuable time and energy on questions you’ve already asked yourself.
The buzzing, humming, and popping from speakers could benefit from this troubleshooting technique.
Some people can learn from books, but most people learn best from doing.
This is what experimenting is great for.
Playing around with volume control and different settings is another form of the process of elimination.
What makes it better is you can combine this with questions you asked and narrow down the problem even more.
There are special testers to test for electrical grounding called “ground resistance testers.”
The technique is to place this tester in a strategic area.
With a ground resistance tester, impedance, impedance coupling, and magnetic or electric field coupling will reveal itself.
This is one method out of the three which requires money, but it identifies the problem the fastest.
Practical Ways To Fix Electrical Ground Loop
Here is the order we will go regarding each issue and how to fix it:
- Common-impedance coupling
- Magnetic/electric field coupling
After you’ve narrowed down the problem, it’s now time to fix it.
In the last section, we talked about 3 problems that’ll show itself when using the tester.
The first is impedance, which we’ve talked about before.
For those who don’t know what impedance is, think of resistance pushing current back.
Once noise signal disruption happens you’ll have problems with the sound quality, which will cause buzzing and humming.
One way to lower impedance is to consider the wiring or your electrical circuit.
Decide between a series or parallel wiring and configure from there.
Another type of impedance is common-impedance coupling.
Common-impedance coupling is when 2 or more circuits share the same ground which results in shared impedance.
Whenever common-impedance coupling happens, noise is inserted in the cables disrupting sound.
The noised added depends on how long the cable is.
There are 2 ways to fix common-impedance coupling.
The first is to reduce the coupling impedance itself, and the other solution is to fix the circulating ground current.
Reducing coupling impedance comes down to 3 factors.
And cables that are heavy and protected with braided copper shields.
If you have shorter cables, it reduces the chance of coupling impedance.
When electrons (current) move through a cable, there is always a chance of lost voltage though.
When there is less pressure (voltage), there will be a loss of signal resulting in less sound quality.
That’s why a shorter cable is better because there is less chance of loss.
As for “better connection”, you should know why already.
There is less resistance (impedance) and current can move through.
When we combine those 2 reducements, then we have the highest chance of reduced impedance.
Another tool to help is a braided copper shield.
It’s made up of woven bare/tinned copper wires.
The braid acts as a shield while copper makes it easier to reduce noise.
In fact, a braid has multiple benefits going for it.
The first reason is obvious; it protects both wires and people.
It also reduces electrical noise and doesn’t impact noise signals.
One part you might not know is it lowers electromagnetic radiation.
When there is a magnetic field, it brings an electronic field and vice-versa.
Having a magnetism field causes components like a coil to vibrate and wear down.
To explain electromagnetic radiation in a deeper context, you’d have to do a deeper research.
This stuff is too complicated lol….which means we’ll try to explain magnetic/electric field coupling.
Magnetic/electric field coupling
Electric fields happen when electronics have high AC voltages.
Examples of items which bring high AC voltages are transformers, wiring, and electric motors.
Thankfully, electric fields aren’t a major problem most of the time because braided shields cover 80-95% of the coverage to keep electronic field coupling at bay.
Combine a braided shield with distance far away from possible electric fields and you’re setting yourself up for success.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
If you don’t know what the problem is, ask yourself these important questions:
What went wrong before, during, and after the problems?
What happens if I do (x) when I (y) with this?
And always remember to write down everything.
To get off on the right start, don’t go too hard with your speakers.
It’s easy to blast your speakers during a party when everything is going well, but that’ll loosen the components in the speaker.
Everything from speaker wires to amplifiers is all part of one system.
Once one piece is not functioning correctly, the whole system isn’t the same.
Make sure to also upgrade your cables to braided if you haven’t.
Any electric fields will be mitigated if you follow these instructions.
Most problems that have to do with popping are due to wear and tear.
When it comes to buzzing and humming, it’s more of a technical problem.
Go through the questions listed above to narrow down your problems and help guide you.
You’ll save time and money.