Why Do My Computer Speakers Hum?

Written by dan stone
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Why Do My Computer Speakers Hum?
Humming computer speakers can get very annoying. (small speaker image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

Your computer speakers are humming because they are picking up the 60hz frequency from a nearby power source. Speakers usually pickup the 60hz humming because of a problem with grounding, inadequate wire shielding or a broken device. There is usually a way to resolve the humming problem. Also, speakers on TVs, audio-systems and musical instrument amplifiers may hum for the same reasons as computer speakers.

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Bad Grounding

The computer speakers can hum because of ground loops, improper grounding, and an absence of grounding. The speakers' hum could be caused by nearby equipment being plugged in to a different frequency outlet or insufficient grounding altogether. You can try to resolve this problem by having all devices near and including the computer connected to the same outlet and by using surge protectors that ground at the outlet. You can also try using an isolation transformer or a ground isolator.

Why Do My Computer Speakers Hum?
Bad grounding can cause humming. (electrical socket image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Inadequate Shielding

Most computer speaker wires are not shielded from interference. If this is the case, the wire that connects the speakers to the computer could be picking up interference from a nearby power cable. This situation can be resolved by either using a shielded speaker wire or increasing the physical distance between the computer speaker wires and any power cables. You can also try to set-up the computer in a different location away from other electronic devices.

Why Do My Computer Speakers Hum?
The wires that connect the speakers to your computer can be the culprit. (Multimedia speaker system 2.1 image by diter from Fotolia.com)

Broken Speakers

If the problem isn't caused by bad grounding or inadequate wire shielding, it is possible that the speakers are broken. You can try using a different set of speakers on the computer to determine if the speakers are broken. If the speakers are broken you can either get the speakers repaired or use different speakers.

Electrical problems with the speakers could be causing the interference.
Electrical problems with the speakers could be causing the interference. (speaker image by Aditia Patria Warman from Fotolia.com)

Broken Sound Card

If you get humming with different speaker sets and have ruled out grounding and shielding problems, it is possible that the computer's sound card is broken. You can easily replace the sound card on the majority of desktop computers, but it may be impossible or extremely complicated to do so on a laptop. You can rule out a broken sound card by turning off the computer and checking if the humming continues.

Why Do My Computer Speakers Hum?
Desktop sound cards are usually replacable. (sound card and headphones isolated image by Renewer from Fotolia.com)

Radio Signal

In rare instances, the computer speakers may be picking up a FM radio frequency which is causing the humming. You can test for this by turning up the speaker volume while the computer is turned off and listening for radio static or signals. This can be caused by the wires acting as a FM antenna. You can try to resolve this problem by using shorter wires or by wrapping the extra wire around something called a Ferrite ring.

Why Do My Computer Speakers Hum?
The wires can be actling like a radio antenna. (radio image by Charles Taylor from Fotolia.com)

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