A stereo system has the capacity to act like a giant conductor, creating a hum when music is played through the speakers. However, tracing the cause of that hum and eliminating it can be problematic, especially if it happens only when it's playing music on one input, such as a turntable, but does not happen on other inputs, such as a CD or DVD player.
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A 60-cycle ground hum, or ground loop, can stem from a variety of causes with a turntable. To help reduce or eliminate this hum, turntables are equipped with a ground-wire connector that is meant to be connected to the grounding plug on the back of your stereo or phono preamp. If you are experiencing a ground hum, make sure that the wire is connected from your turntable to the ground connection on the back of your phono preamp or stereo.
Even if your grounding wire is connected to the right terminals, a ground hum can still enter your system if it is improperly connected, or if the bare ends of the ground wire are also touching another part of the system, such as the RCA interconnects from the turntable to your stereo, the RCA plugs, or the power cable. If the ground wire is connected but you still experience a hum, try moving the ground wire around so that it is not touching anything except the ground screws on your turntable and stereo amp or phono preamp.
Inexpensive ground plugs, available at most hardware stores, can sometimes eliminate ground hum by grounding the AC line. Use a couple of grounding plugs on the phono preamp and the stereo amp power cords. If you have a subwoofer, try using a grounding plug on the sub as well. You can also use grounding plugs on the cords for power strips or power conditioners, if you are using one of those to power the entire stereo system.
Sometimes, the location of the turntable can also induce hum, particularly if it is close to a television or the power amp or stereo receiver. If you have hum that can't be eliminated by the ground wire or the grounding plugs, try moving the location of the turntable away from the TV set or stereo amp and see if that eliminates the hum.
The wiring in the tonearm, if it is improperly connected or loose, can also create ground hum. To test for this, first check that the wire leads are properly connected to the pins on your turntable cartridge. If they are, try removing the cartridge and connecting alligator clips to the red and green pins and the white and blue pins. Turn your stereo to phono and turn up the volume. If the hum disappears, then the wiring is fine. Spraying the wires and connections with tuner spray, available from stores that sell turntable equipment, can also eliminate hum. (Do not use household oil or WD-40 as a substitute.) If there is still hum, the wires may be broken somewhere in the tonearm, and will need to be serviced.
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