Resources for the Recording Musician
October 8, 2006

Interferance through my speakers?

Hi there i'm getting frustrated now, ive bought a new soundcard an audiophile, the last soundcard i had was picking up interference through my speakers, not in recording mode though, so if i make a tune and burn it to CD I don't get the interference. anyway I installed this new card and I'm still getting interference, ringing noise, I have changed my wires and its quieter, is it my speakers, wires or soundcard?

Its almost as if my speakers aren't grounded or something, but when i pull the wires out of the speakers as they're crappy and have a built in amp, the noise goes? do i need to buy some decent phono - phone wires or new speakers or something with a real amp?

There was another recent post about somebody else getting noise with their four track recorder.  You may want to look at that one, because a lot of the advice would be the same.

You weren't very specific about your equipment.  Do you mean the M-Audio Audiophile soundcard?  What kind of powered speakers are you using?

What kind of ringing noise are your hearing?  Is it a high-pitched type sound... maybe feedback?  Or is it a low hum like a ground loop?  Or something else?

Basically, in these types of situations, you need to do a process of elimination to figure out exactly what is the source of the noise.  It could be the soundcard, or other items in your computer causing interference with the sound card, or Radio Frequency Interference from nearby radio or TV broadcast towers, or a ground loop, or simply bad cables, or any number of things.

Try plugging something like a CD player directly into the speakers to see if it's the speakers first.  If the speakers don't cause that noise when hooked up to other equipment, then you know it's not a problem with the speakers.

Also, you described a ringing sound, which could be some kind of feedback loop you created when hooking up the inputs and outputs of your soundcard, especially if direct monitoring is turned on and you are somehow passing the output back into the input (through an external mixer or something possibly, or a mis-configured routing in the software).

You could also have a ground loop problem if the speakers and your computer system aren't plugged into the same circuit and referencing the same ground... but, that would cause a low end hum/buzz at 60Hz, which most people wouldn't describe as "ringing".

If you've got a home stereo or boombox or something else with audio inputs, try hooking up the soundcard output to that to see if you still get the ringing sound to narrow it down to the soundcard (or the cables).

That's about the best I can offer with the limited information.  These kinds of problems always involve a process of elimination to figure out... you just have to try one thing at a time until you figure out exactly where the noise is coming from.  If the noise is there no matter what you try, then it could be from external RFI (radio frequency interference), which can be tough to eliminate.

Good luck with it!

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