The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-03-2009, 07:56 AM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Stereo making weird buzzing noise

My stereo makes a weird buzzing noise at certain points on certain CDs. The noise sounds kind of like a loose wire, and it started doing this right after I hooked up the converter box to the TV, so I checked the speaker wires at the tuner end in case I'd jiggled something while I was poking around doing that, and, in fact, one wire was loose so I redid that connection. Also checked the wires into the speakers, they're okay. Any ideas? Are my speakers shot? (They're -- I'm totally guessing here -- about 10 years old; bookshelf speakers, decent quality but not particularly pricey.)

Any suggestions for what I might check/do would be much appreciated .... I'm an old-fashioned girl who listens to CDs on the stereo, so this is wreaking havoc with my lifestyle here.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 07-03-2009, 10:30 AM
ruritanian ruritanian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
It may be a ground loop issue. Have a look here. Towards the end the is a link towards a page with solutions, albeit not very realistic; your best bet would be to replace or plug in differently the offending piece of equipment.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-03-2009, 01:48 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Okay -- so, too much stuff (stereo components plus TV components -- TV, DVD, antenna, converter box) plugged into the surge protector? And setting up a dedicated surge protector for the stereo stuff (tuner, CD, tape deck, turntable) might help?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-03-2009, 02:24 PM
Gorsnak Gorsnak is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Saskaboom
Posts: 8,036
Unless the converter box is plugged into the stereo as one of the sources, it's not going to be a ground loop issue. Where would the loop be? A ground loop has current flowing through the shield of the audio line because of different ground potentials between the components. No audio line, no ground loop. And with both items plugged into the same power bar, not likely a ground loop even with an audio line between them.

It is likely a power/grounding issue, though. Chances are the power supply for the converter box is electrically noisy and feeding crap back into the power circuit. Try unplugging it and see if the buzzing goes away. Then try plugging it into a different circuit (might need an extension cord). If this solves the problem, and the converter has an offboard power supply (black power brick) you could replace just that. You could also make sure that any power brick isn't physically close to coiled up excess speaker/audio lines, as that could be a recipe for induction-based interference. Having the audio stuff plugged in to a separate good-quality power conditioner would likely fix you up, but that's kinda pricey, plus buying power conditioners at electronic stores is like dancing through a minefield of snake oil. APC is a decent respectable brand in my experience.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-03-2009, 02:48 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Okay, thanks -- I'll try unplugging the converter box and seeing what happens, and we can go from there. (I'm the half-assed type, so I predict that if that turns out to be the problem, I'll just unplug the converter box except when I'm watching TV.)

ETA: the stereo system and the TV system aren't interrelated in any way -- i.e., I don't run audio for the TV through the stereo -- so I never have both sets of equipment on at the same time.

Last edited by twickster; 07-03-2009 at 03:05 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-03-2009, 04:40 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,071
Just a hunch, here. Is the CD player sitting on top of a speaker? If so, the sound could be rattling the innards of the player.

Is the TV old enough to not have a polarized plug (with one prong wider than the other)? If so, you may have reversed the plug in hooking up the convertor box. Turning the plug around might help.

I probably would have gone around wiggling the signal cord plugs to see if any were loose. After that, I'd have substituted a spare signal cord for the one from the CD player. Then I'd cogitate for hours or days, trying to figure out what bonehead mistake I made.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-03-2009, 05:05 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Quote:
Originally Posted by AskNott View Post
Just a hunch, here. Is the CD player sitting on top of a speaker? If so, the sound could be rattling the innards of the player.
Nope. The speakers are each on their own little bracket/shelf on an adjacent wall; everything else is in/on a small "media center" type thing (stereo components each on their own shelf; DVD player, converter, and antenna all sitting on top of the TV). Better Homes and Gardens ain't expected anytime soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AskNott View Post
Is the TV old enough to not have a polarized plug (with one prong wider than the other)? If so, you may have reversed the plug in hooking up the convertor box. Turning the plug around might help.
I didn't unplug the TV during the converter box setup -- just unhooked it from the old antenna, ran that line into the converter box, ran a line from the converter box to the old antenna, realized that wasn't going to work, unhooked it and ran it into a new antenna, plugged the converter box into the power strip, plugged the antenna into a different power strip.

Two hours (and three CDs) later, no buzz, so far .... **fingers crossed**
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-03-2009, 05:15 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster View Post

Two hours (and three CDs) later, no buzz, so far .... **fingers crossed**
Phooey. It just started buzzing again.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-03-2009, 08:50 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Ahhhhh, I know the problem. You need to correct its overtone spectrum. Open the CD player and apply Tube-o-lator lacquer to the plastic semiconductor packages on the printed circuit board. That should do the trick.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-04-2009, 10:04 AM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Am I being mocked here?
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-04-2009, 10:34 AM
Gorsnak Gorsnak is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Saskaboom
Posts: 8,036
Someone's being mocked in that post, but not you. It's a poke at a certain breed of snake oil-buying audiophiles.

I'm going to suggest something perhaps a little obvious - when you installed the converter box, did you move stuff around generally? Is there something sitting on the speakers or something that might be physically vibrating & causing a buzz when sounds with certain frequencies play?

Other than that, for a mysterious buzz you pretty much have to try to isolate the cause by switching stuff around and seeing what variable turns the buzz off and on. Is it a buzz, or more crackling and popping? I ask because you mentioned it sounded like a loose wire, but bad connections generally make a crackling or popping sound. If it's that, you play some music and wiggle connectors and wires until you find the spot that makes it crackle lots, and that's the source of your problem.

Damaged speakers can be buzzy, though almost always they'll be buzzy full time and not intermittently. This sort of issue will be more prominent with the volume cranked a bit, so if the system seems to be working turn it up and see if that makes it buzz.

The other (and still most likely) source of a buzz is electrical interference coming from somewhere. This sort of thing can be very difficult to track down, since it could be coming from practically anywhere in the house. Pay attention to if the buzzing coincides with an electric appliance running (dishwasher, A/C, fridge, etc). Dimmer switches for lights can be an issue.

Can you describe the buzz a bit more? Does it sound like a bad fluorescent light? Like static on the line? Like something vibrating in the speaker that isn't supposed to?
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-04-2009, 10:35 AM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster View Post
Am I being mocked here?
No; I just couldn't resist plugging the Tube-o-lator.

I have no idea what's causing the buzzing noise.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-04-2009, 10:57 AM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorsnak View Post

Can you describe the buzz a bit more? Does it sound like a bad fluorescent light? Like static on the line? Like something vibrating in the speaker that isn't supposed to?
It's kind of a cross between a crackle and a buzz -- a cruzz? a backle? like a really fuzzy crackle -- a little poppy, I guess. It does sound like a loose wire -- or like how phonographs used to sound when there was a big ol' dustbal on the needle. It sounds like something's wrong as the signal is being picked up (at the playing end), more than that the speakers are shot -- which, as you say, tends not to be so intermittent.

Maybe unplugging the antenna also would work? **wanders off to try that**
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-04-2009, 06:29 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 51,984
Would you describe the buzzing sound as punctuated or rhythmic? If so, is there a mobile phone handset anywhere near the apparatus when it happens?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-04-2009, 06:51 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Sporadic.

And no, it doesn't correspond to phone use (and I have neither A/C nor dishwasher).

The "what happens if I unplug the converter box and the antenna" test is inconclusive in a so-far-so-good kind of way.

Last edited by twickster; 07-04-2009 at 06:51 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-04-2009, 07:19 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,399
Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster View Post
The "what happens if I unplug the converter box and the antenna" test is inconclusive in a so-far-so-good kind of way.
Nope, that's no good.

Guess I should divvy up the TV and the stereo completely, and run two power strips -- but I need to get a two-to-three prong converter before I can do that.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:55 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.