How to troubleshoot a buzzing sound in stereo speakers

Written by jesse sears
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How to troubleshoot a buzzing sound in stereo speakers
Try these simple methods for troubleshooting a buzzing sound coming from your stereo speakers. (James Wilsher for stock.xchng)

Are you hearing a buzzing sound from the speakers on your home stereo system? Maybe the buzz is only when the music is turned up very loud. Maybe the buzzing sound only comes when there are deep bass notes, or maybe your speakers buzz all the time. In any case, here are a few simple steps to determining whether it is your speakers that are the problem, or another stereo component.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Home stereo system
  • Any other head unit besides your primary one
  • RCA cable, stereo
  • Copper/silver speaker connector wire

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove any covering over the paper or synthetic sound cone on the face of your speakers. Most stereo speakers will either have a screw-on metal grate or a cloth shield mounted on a frame with tabs that pop out with a screwdriver. To determine if the buzzing is coming from your speaker cones, you first need to expose them.

  2. 2

    Wash your hands and inspect the face each of your speaker cones in turn by visually looking for rips or tears that could be the source of the buzzing. Run your finger along each seam of each speaker cone, looking for small gaps that are created when very light pressure is applied. The speaker cone is very delicate, and the smallest rip or gap will create that buzzing sound in your stereo speakers that makes you cringe.

  3. 3

    Testing the speakers with another audio source will be necessary if the first steps have not solved the problem. Disconnect all cables that connect your home stereo speakers to the head unit. These will either be RCA cables or the twin-shielded slim silver-and-copper wire variety that plug into black and red pull tabs on the back of the speaker.

  4. 4

    Use a friend's stereo head unit and plug in the RCA or connector wires. You need a home stereo system to test whether it is your head unit that is causing the buzzing, rather than the speakers. Make sure you use a head unit with a similar wattage and ohm rating as your own. If you aren't sure what this means, check the manual that came with your unit.

  5. 5

    Fire up the speakers using the other stereo head unit and check for the buzzing. If there is no buzzing coming from the speakers, your head unit needs to be serviced. If the buzz persists and your speakers have no visible rips or tears, there is something wrong with the inner voice coils or amplifiers. Unless you are an audio expert, this is the point where you will need to take the speakers in for service or replace them.

Tips and warnings

  • To avoid blowing your speakers in the first place, always use them with the stereo system they came with or one with the same or similar wattage and ohm rating.
  • Be extremely careful when exposing and touching the face of your speakers. You should have clean hands and use as little pressure as possible.

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