Have you worked on new music using your high-quality studio monitors when you suddenly hear an annoying buzzing sound?
We all know how frustrating it can be to listen to unwanted noise while we record or listen to our music.
Everyone’s scratched their heads at some point, figuring out how to get rid of it.
To help you out, I’ve made a quick fix guide to protect your equipment and keep your monitor speakers sounding CLEAN!
3 Reasons Why Your Studio Monitors Make Noise
Before fixing the problem, we must figure out why monitor speakers have noise issues.
1. Electrical Interference When Using Unbalanced Cables
There are generally two types of analog cables and one kind of digital cable you’ll encounter when using audio equipment.
RCA and XLR cables are analog, while a USB cable is digital.
Suppose audio devices like an audio interface can be pc plugged through a USB port. You won’t encounter electrical interference in that case, as the transfer is digital.
It would be best if you avoided RCA cables because these can be affected by environmental interference. An RCA cable is, therefore, an unbalanced cable.
Balanced cables like XLR cables are better than unbalanced cables because they cancel out any outside noise that can interfere with the sound passing through.
2. Loud Ambient Noise Because of Over-Amplified Equipment
Louder is better, usually.
However, when studio monitors buzz, it could add unnecessary white noise to your recordings.
Highly sensitive microphones don’t respond well when you over-amplify them. They’ll introduce compression effects, clipping, or other noises.
Amplifying your equipment too much also raises the noise floor. A noise floor is an ambient noise from a studio monitor when no audio is playing.
Noise floors either sound like buzzing or hissing, depending on your setup. This is not ideal if you want to hear your music clearly.
CONSIDER: Try getting closer to your microphone instead of raising the gain if you sound too quiet. The recording will have fewer background sounds, and you’ll sound loud and clear.
3. Not Enough Power for Audio Equipment
On the opposite end is not putting enough power into your playback system. This may sound better than overpowering it, but it can be worse.
Insufficient power can damage highly sensitive microphones!
Giving older equipment insufficient power could even short the whole power strip it’s connected to.
An underpowered output device can either break or have a squealing sound. This isn’t something you want to happen to your studio monitor.
How to Get Rid of Studio Monitor Noise
Now that you know what causes that annoying noise, here are a few ways to fix it!
Determine Type of Noise
Different home studio issues make their own noises.
Identifying the kind of noise through the process of elimination can help you narrow down what you need to do to fix the problem.
Line noise is intermittent but frequent and sounds electrical. It might be caused by using an unbalanced cable that’s getting interference from other equipment, a.k.a., a ground loop.
Alternatively, an insufficient power supply can result in line noise. Ground noise sounds similar but is more persistent and is characterized by buzzing.
Finally, check if the noise is coming from the studio monitors. It might be coming from another source of white noise, like an air conditioning unit.
As I have discussed earlier, there are RCA, USB, and XLR cables.
An XLR cable is ideal for removing interference noise, but one more popular cable connector is the auxiliary cable. It comes in 1/4 inch or 3.5mm sizes.
They can have one line (TS cable), two lines (TRS cable), or three lines (TRRS cable). TS cables are found in guitar plugs, while TRS and TRRS cables are usually in headphone cables.
You’ve probably used them to plug headphones into your computer or phone. If you’re using any of these connections, they are primarily unbalanced unless specified.
It should be noted that TRS cables CAN be balanced if their manufacturer says so. It can use the two rings to run a balanced mono signal instead of stereo unbalanced.
Therefore, try getting microphones and other equipment with XLR balanced cables instead of RCA or aux cords.
If you already have equipment with unbalanced cables, try moving them away from anything that runs on electricity.
Audio and power cables can get mixed up. Try separating them and organizing them first to make this section easier for you.
To remove the annoying squealing sound from your studio monitors, plug your equipment into a power strip.
This will give a separate power source for each one which you can quickly turn on and off individually.
Having more power sources/power supplies puts less stress on electronics.
If the noise persists, consider getting a power conditioner. A power conditioner regulates the voltage to give better quality power to your audio devices.
A voltage regulator is more widely available and has the same features as a power conditioner but adds more.
It acts as a surge protector, which can protect your equipment from random power spikes.
WARNING: Don’t connect more than one power strip or power conditioner in tandem, as they may overload each other, short-circuiting all your equipment.
Check Audio Interface
The interface acts as a bridge between your mics, instruments and computer. Issues that happen with it can affect the rest of your home studio setup.
If Your Equipment Is Over-Amplified
Audio interfaces usually have an adjustable gain setting. This controls how sensitive a mic or instrument pickup can get.
Setting gain too high can make the microphone pick up ambient noises you don’t want, like air conditioning or a high-pitched whine.
Therefore, you should lower your gain level through your computer software setup or a knob or switch on the interface. A good gain level to start is 4 or 5 if it goes up to 10.
If Your Mic Is Turning On and off Repeatedly With Adequate Power
You may have a damaged interface if a power problem persists even after you’ve already checked the cables and outlets.
Unfortunately, you must have it repaired or buy a new one, which may be expensive depending on the damage.
An alternative solution is to switch to a different playback system where everything runs via digital hardware, like USB mics.
Most monitor speakers have an option to be connected to your computer via USB too.
When Recording, Move the Mic or Use Headphones
It may be tempting to use the speakers when recording a track.
However, if you’re playing a backing track while recording, you might encounter a feedback loop.
A feedback loop, also called audio feedback, happens when audio from the speakers gets recorded by the mic and played again through the speakers.
The sound can be heard through the master channels and can’t be removed through editing.
You can try moving your microphone farther away from the monitor speakers or use headphones when recording. Doing this will take away any ringing or echoing noise.
How to Take Care of Your Studio Monitors
Sometimes, you can break a studio monitor by not caring for it properly. Follow these tips to keep your studio monitors in tip-top shape.
Cover Your Monitor Speakers With Dust Caps
Most music producers use this practice when they aren’t doing music production. Dust can accumulate in the monitor speakers and ruin the sound over time.
It can also get into the electronic wiring of the monitors, affecting performance and possibly causing interference inside.
Instead of opening up your monitors every few months to clean them out, prevent dust from getting inside in the first place.
Use Power Conditioners
As discussed, power conditioners help control the electricity going into your equipment. This prevents any power surge from damaging your setup or ruining recordings halfway.
This is crucial, especially for monitors, because they’re drawing a lot of power. A big enough surge could blow out the speakers.
Use USB or Balanced Cables
A USB or balanced cable can do wonders for your monitor speakers.
Even if other cables seem to work fine, you can push more power through digital or analog balanced ones.
A balanced output also reassures you that no interference can damage the drivers inside the speakers.
Noise from that interference can be loud enough and at the right frequency to blow out the studio monitor.
Check Minimum System Requirements
Some monitor speakers have minimum requirements or can only work with specific computer software.
Therefore, check what minimum system requirements the monitors you’re looking at need before buying.
You’ll have to upgrade your system if you already have the speakers but don’t meet the software requirements.
Ensuring your monitor speakers are fully supported will lengthen their working life and save you many headaches in the future.
I know you still have some questions about studio monitor speakers and related equipment. I’ve tried to answer them here.
Why Are My Monitors Making Static Noise?
Static noise could indicate ground loops or power issues.
Ensure that your cables are balanced, digital, or away from other electronics if unbalanced.
Check your power outputs and cables on the ground for any crossover wires or anything close to your audio cables.
Is It Normal for Studio Monitors to Hiss?
For most decent monitors, there should be NO hissing.
Some cheaper, low-quality ones may have some hissing even with good cables, but they shouldn’t be as loud as the music you’re playing through the speakers.
Some hissing can occur if you use wireless or Bluetooth adapters, as they will use the inferior built-in amplifiers instead of the one from your audio interface.
PRO TIP: Avoid using Bluetooth or wireless adapters as they also introduce high latency to your studio monitor, which isn’t ideal when mixing.
What Does a Blown Studio Monitor Sound Like?
You can quickly tell when monitor speakers are blown out. Listen for a brassy noise, rattling, or vibrating sounds.
Blown speakers are caused by specific frequencies being played at a loud enough volume to break the drivers inside the monitors.
How Do You Fix a Ground Loop?
There are multiple ways to fix ground loops.
One way is to use a power conditioner or voltage regulator to ensure all the power coming in gets regulated.
This is for power to be steady and consistent even if it’s coming from the same source.
The alternate way is to use separate, grounded power sources for each of your audio equipment. This ensures that no current will pass between the audio devices.
Do Balanced Cables Make a Difference in Short Distances?
Suppose there are many electronics like your computer close to the cable. In that case, having a balanced cable will significantly reduce interference.
However, an unbalanced cable will do just fine if there’s nothing electronic nearby.
Most speakers have an RCA cable shorter than 10 feet. This usually isn’t long enough to attract significant interference.
That’s a wrap on this studio monitor guide!
Hopefully, you’ve fixed your problem through the process of elimination. Troubleshooting noise issues can be tiresome and stressful.
The one thing from this guide you should remember is to double-check EVERYTHING.
Many things can cause noises in studio monitors, so it’s easy to miss something important!
I hope you found this article helpful in pursuing a quiet studio monitor for your mixing and recording sessions!