Amplifiers are used in powerful audio setups due to their unmatched ability to increase audio power.
However, they can produce an unpleasant hissing sound known as an amp buzz if there’s an issue.
This scares many music lovers, especially those concerned that they can’t fix it. Let’s see what causes amp buzz, how to fix it with ease, and more.
An amplifier buzzing sound is normally created by an ungrounded AC power supply, ground loops, AC line noise, RF interference, cable noise, or from devices such as the audio source, pedalboards, FX units, microphones, or guitars. The good news is, that all these issues can be fixed.
Let’s get into motor details about how to fix your amplifier’s buzzing noise.
Causes of Amp Buzz
1. Ground Loop
A ground loop is the number one cause of amp buzz, and it occurs when audio devices are connected through different paths to a common ground. The issue with this is that it creates a single-loop antenna that is susceptible to noise via electromagnetic induction.
We can say it takes place when different audio equipment receives an uneven power supply.
For example, if you plug your amp and your sound source into different electrical outlets, a ground loop is likely to occur.
An easy way to know if you are struggling with a ground loop is if you notice a loud buzz or hum coming through the speakers as well, or scrolling bands on a TV screen if a TV is connected.
How To Fix Your Ground Loop Issue
Use A Hum Eliminator: You can use you can buy a hum eliminator, such asEbtech’s Hum X to eliminate hum. However, some of these devices actually remove the ground connection so you should be careful.
Remove Third Power Prong (Ground): Many people will tell you that you can also remove the third prong (ground prong) from your amplifier. While this might fix the problem, it is a shock hazard and you SHOULD NOT DO IT unless you know what you are doing.
2. Amp Input Picking Up AC Electrical Power Noise
It’s perfectly normal for power lines to radiate some AC. If the amplifier is highly sensitive and the wiring feeding is not adequately shielded, this can be a more serious concern.
Low AC radiation may cause a subtle buzzing sound that you can live with without any problem.
However, there are instances, depending on the amount of AC the amp is picking up from the environment, the buzzing sound can adversely compromise the quality of your music listening experience.
It’s important to consider that good and efficient shielding doesn’t perfectly prevent amp inputs from picking up AC from its surroundings. For this reason, there is no one-fit-all approach to fixing this problem. We shall look into solutions a little later.
Note that if you have a battery-run installation, AC pickup is not the cause of the buzzing sound. Batteries store DC electrical power, not AC.
AC Induction Devices: In other cases, AC induction devices (devices with a motor) can cause interference. Typical examples are hairdryers and blenders. Some less obvious examples are light dimmers and failing fluorescent fixtures.
3. Bad Amp Power Supply
Amps’ filter capacitors can dry over time, limiting their efficiency. So, if your amplifier has been in use for many years, these components’ inefficiency might cause the buzzing noise. They are designed to supply the required amount of power to the amp.
4. Other Causes of Amplifier Buzz
Worn-out Power Cord or Outlet: Those that are worn out and can’t grip are common causes of buzzing noise.
Outlet Polarity: If the outlet is wired backward, it could cause disturbing noise.
Signal Interference: Appliances like fluorescent lamps and light dimmers can cause hums if they share a common ground or the same circuit in home theater equipment. Magnetic fields can also interfere with the transmission of signals, which results in amp buzz.
Types of Amp Buzz
As we’ve seen, there are plenty of factors that can cause amp buzz. If you want to fix the noise, you must start by troubleshooting for the type of noise.
The amp buzz we’ve seen above is classified into two categories. These are:
- 120 HZ Buzz
The 120Hz buzz refers to the amp noises that ground loops cause
- ·60Hz Hum
Most of the amp noises fall under this category. Poor shielding, cable problems, and proximity to magnetic fields are categorized as 60Hz hums.
How to Fix Amplifier-Buzzing Noise
Once you determine the underlying cause of an amplifier buzz, you can fix it with ease. Here are the basic ways to troubleshoot and fix the varied types of amp buzz:
1. Isolate the Problem
Since no single method can fix all the underlying causes of amp buzz, you need to start by finding and isolating it.
If you ignore this step and start swapping gear and cables and everything else all at once, you are likely to:
- Spend too much time trying to identify the problem
- Create more complex problems
- Use too much energy
- Fail to achieve your goals
Overall, it would be best if you methodologically did everything, paying attention to isolating the culprit first.
One way to start is by running the amplifier’s input source selection through its settings. You can also uninstall your speakers one by one as you try to find out which of them could be making noise. You can also replace your cables to see if that eliminates the noise.
If all the components are buzzing, you should consider checking whether your amp’s power supply functions well.
If the amp is old, the filter capacitors might have dried. An expert technician can diagnose if this is the case and fix it.
2. Check Ground Connections
If you suspect a ground loop, turn off the audio system and use a heavy-duty power strip to connect the amp and the other audio sources to the same outlet.
Connect the ground wire of the audio source to the grounding screw, and if you can still detect the buzz, move on to the next step.
If you’re looking for the easiest and most common solution, you’ll find that adding a Cable TV ground isolator is suitable for your needs. It will ensure a flat frequency response, delivering an exceptional outcome.
3. Increase the Distance Between the Amp and Other Cellular and Fluorescent Devices
As noted earlier, these devices can interfere with your sound system’s normal functioning. They can create electronic fields that hinder the efficient transmission of electrical signals.
Others can also amplify AC radiation. Move your phone, fluorescent/neon lights, and switches away from the amp. If they are the culprits, the noise will disappear after doing this.
4. Condition Power
Use a power conditioner to eliminate unwanted power that can cause noise. This is especially true if you are pushing a large amp like a 2000 watt amp or even a 3000-watt amp. Advanced technologies filter electric power and ensure you get quality sound irrespective of the power source.
here are some good power conditioners:
|1||Furman Power Conditioner (SS6B) black||Check on Amazon|
|2||Furman M-8X2 Merit Series 8 Outlet Power...||Check on Amazon|
|3||Furman AC-215A Compact Power Conditioner with...||Check on Amazon|
It would be best to use quality, well-shielded power, and amp cables on the same note. This is the standard way to reduce AC radiation.
However, it would help if you complement it with quality cables, proper wiring, an adequate power supply, and so on.
Now you can see that if your audio system produces a buzz that won’t go away, you don’t have to buy a new amp, speaker, or audio source.
You diagnose and troubleshoot the cause. In some cases, you’ll find that all you need is to remove your devices away from the amp or connect them through the same path to a common ground.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.