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To most folks, the sound produced by the vinyl record when playing on the turntable is unmatched. It provides an unforgettable listening experience with inherent warmth that you can only compare to live music. Unfortunately, disruption of this exceptional listening experience by a loud humming noise produced by the record players can happen. So, after thorough research, we compiled the following article on the main reasons your record player is making a loud humming noise.
When it comes to record players, the main reasons why it produces humming noises is feedback and ground loops. Remember, the hum is a low-pitched continuous tone produced by turntables, and you can easily correct the humming noise triggered by grounding problems. (source)
The buzzing or humming noises are so annoying, right! These noises can mess up your vinyl record experience. So in this article, we’re going to troubleshoot the problem and find out the main reasons why your record player is making a loud humming noise. We’ll also show you how to solve this humming problem once and for all.
Table of Contents
Vinyl records are excellent sources of analog music that were once thought dead but are making a comeback. And that is because they produce sound in its original form without any distortion or background noise. In fact, this music source is only rivaled by live music; after all, it is a perfect recording of live music. (source)
It has forced many turntable producers to manufacture modern record players with fewer distortions. Digital music has dominated the sales record for decades, but for the first time, record sales exceeded CD sales in 2020, thanks to the COVID pandemic. (source) After all, most audiophile and live music lovers couldn’t access the live concerts. Therefore, they had to settle for record players, which produce high-quality analog music.
Over the last few years, the increase in popularity of vinyl records and turntables has introduced a few record player issues that most folks had forgotten. And one of the most problematic issues is producing a loud humming noise when playing the vinyl record. Plus, with many young audiophiles turning to turntables, most folks don’t know how to fix most of these issues.
Remember, the hum is a low-pitched continuous tone produced by turntables, while noises can be howls, hisses, clicks, or sharp crackling sounds. The hum or buzz noise produced by a turntable is a low-frequency noise linked with induced 60-cycle noises, and in most cases, it often has something to do with ground loops. (source) Some of the leading causing of the humming or buzzing noises include:
If your turntable produces humming noise, the first thing you should focus on is the amplifier. If you lower the volume and the humming noise persists, the amplifier may be the issue. There is a connection between the amplifier’s chassis and the metallic part of the turntable from where you can ground this system to the water pipe. But if the issue persists even after creating a ground loop, you need to service the amplifier.
As aforementioned, there is a connection between the metal part of your system and the amplifier’s chassis where you can easily ground the system. Without proper grounding, your device will produce humming noises when playing the music. (source)
A turntable is a susceptible unit that can be easily affected by the surrounding noises. So if placed on a tape recorder or a power amplifier, the record player will start producing the humming noises. Plus, being a sensitive device, the turntable can pick the humming noises made by other devices near it and amplify them.
The best solution for getting rid of feedback noises is isolating the turntable. So if feedback noises are a problem, you can move the turntable away from the power amplifier, speakers, or tape recorder. After all, a motor or transformer can produce an isolated hum field. (source)
The humming produced by ground loops differs from the noises made by feedback. Plus, feedback humming is relatively high when the volume of the record player is high. (source)
Even though this is quite rare, it does happen in some situations. Some turntable motors come with excessive hum fields. In fact, the excess hum field occurs when you install a magnetic pickup in a vintage records player designed for a ceramic pickup. (source)
The metal headshell isn’t grounded if the hum increases when you place your hand on the cartridge headshell. If your turntable has a plastic headshell, then it should also come with a metal grounding clip that is usually marked “RG.” If your device has a metal headshell that produces a steady hum, uninstalling the grounding clip can help. (source)
Another solution is removing and then installing the headshell, ensuring correct installation. If the problem persists, you can clean its contacts using isopropyl alcohol. And before reinstalling the headshell, you can check if the wires connecting the cartridge to the headshell are sturdy. If any of the cables are loose, you can tighten it and confirm if it still produces the humming noises. (source)
Lift the turntable and look at all the connections on the underside of your device. Remember, there should be no connection between the cables’ shield and the metallic parts of the turntable. These connections can force your turntable to start humming when playing your favorite records. If there are connections, you should remove them and install a new ground wire. (source)
The leading cause of the humming noise is usually obscure, and it even baffles most experts; fortunately, the hunt for the reason can be fun. After all, the worst enemy for exceptional music produced by turntables is the noise and hum. Noises are any disturbing crackling howls, clicks, or hisses produced by turntables when playing your record, while hums are low-pitched noises. So instead of hiring a professional to help you solve this issue, you can track the leading cause of the problem. (source)
Therefore, the first step to solving this problem is locating the cause of the humming noise. If you hear the hum only when one of the sources of sound is being used (radio tuner and record player), then the issue is in that device. The problem is more than one element if you can hear the noise with the record player and radio tuner. The humming noise may originate from the units’ wiring, external cabling, the speaker, or the amplifiers. (source)
So when troubleshooting the humming noises, you should start with:
When troubleshooting this issue, the first place you should look at is the external wiring. The AC cables can produce humming noises when placed near the other audio cables. So, it would help if you didn’t tie the AC cords together with other lines simply because they look neat. After all, they may seem extraordinary, but the amount of humming they will produce will disrupt your music experience.
When diagnosing this issue, you should unplug everything, insert every cable in the chassis socket, and confirm if it produces noises. But make sure the record player is playing your favorite music. If it produces a humming noise when plugged in, then the issue may be a loose socket/plug contact or loose connections in the contacts. So you may have to repair the damaged socket contacts before reinstalling the cables.
When examining the cables, you shouldn’t forget to flex the cables a bit before plugging them in. if the cable produces a sharp crackling noise when bent, the cable may have broken braids in the shielding braid or the inner conductor. (source) Therefore, make sure you replace the broken cables with new ones and try and confirm if it is still producing humming noises.
To lower the hum and noises in your system, you should be ready to ground the turntable. It would be best to connect a particular part of the system to the water pipe using a ground wire and create an earth ground. Creating a ground loop is an exceptional idea, but don’t assume that it will always work; it can sometimes worsen the situation.
When connecting numerous components, you may create more than two ground connections between the external ground wire, power cables, and audio cables, among other elements. These connections can create a closed-loop, also referred to as a ground loop, that serves as a pickup coil. The hum fields nearby can induce a hum voltage in the ground loop.
The condenser connected from the chassis to the power cord may also be a hidden connection to the earth’s ground. After all, the power line is already grounded; therefore, it produces a small hum voltage that can magnify by the high-gain amplifier between the water pipe and the grounding point. Consequently, it would help approach the grounding connection with an open mind.
So, it would help if you started with some trial connections at different positions. And make sure the volume is adequate so that you can notice any changes in the sound produced. Try and ground various components separately or together while monitoring the reduction or increase in hum. Remember, all the hi-fi installations are different, so you may have to experiment before finding an ideal arrangement. (source)
Even if the power supply, power amplifier, and pre-amp are separate, you may want to consider treating them as a single unit. So you should reverse the AC plugs in the wall socket; if you have several AC cords, you should try different combinations. Try troubleshooting with these questions:
- Are the bass and treble inadvertently set at extreme ranges?
- Are the tuner and record player feeding more than enough signals to the amp?
- Have you installed the equalizer in the wrong place? It can force it to start hissing excessively. (source)
Most modern amplifiers come with a hum-balancing control unit that helps silence the record player. So if your record player doesn’t have one, you install one. Look for a 2watt 100-or-50ohms potentiometer and install it in the chassis near the input tube. If a certain part of the radio player is grounded, you may have to disconnect the ground wire at all the tube sockets and pass the wire to the transformer.
In some hi-fi amplifiers, the filament will be parallel wired, with the filament’s center tap winding around the grounded transformer. So, before installing the hum-balancing control unit, you should disconnect the center-tap ground. Next, connect the potentiometer’s outer lugs to the filament lugs of the input tube. Finally, you can connect the potentiometer’s center lug to the chassis ground and then confirm that every ground line is passing through the potentiometer.
After installing it, you can adjust the minimum hum of the hum-balancing control for the minimum buzz using the input selector on the magnetic phono. You should turn the bass control to maximum bass, and the volume control should be wide. Look inside the amplifier for poorly or missing seated shields on the glass tube. You can tap all the tubes with a pencil and confirm if the humming changes with intensity or steadiness. If it doesn’t, you should replace it, since it’s faulty.
If the tapping noises duplicate a howling or humming noise and you hear them on specific notes, the speaker may be the issue. The speaker may cause certain parts of the tube to vibrate. So if the new tube is not enough to stop the humming, you should try wrapping solder around it. Substitute all the tubes in the pre-amp and amplifier separately.
Tighten all the screws holding the power transformation perfectly. After all, the loose laminations can vibrate the first-stage tube to start humming. If the vibration is too much, you should mount the transformer on rubber washers and ground its case to the chassis.
Clean the tone, and loud volume controls using the contact cleaning fluid. Examine the chassis for bare sires and connections touching the chassis or each other and suspicious solder joints, particularly the ones binding the braids to the chassis.
If the amplifier doesn’t have a bottom plate, you should make one. If that is not an option, you should set it on a sheet and bind it to the ground wire. If the problems persist, you should contact a technician to help you replace the electrolytic capacitors. (source)
The speaker’s cone might have a tear, resulting in the production of rattles. So if the puncture is large, then you may have to replace the cone, but if it’s a puncture, you can repair it using masking tape. Try and press the center of the cone lightly and see if the humming stops.
If the noise stops, the voice coil may be rubbing against the magnet. If this is the case, you should hire a professional to help center the cone. Vibrating panels and loose joints can force the speaker to produce some noises. (source)
If it turns out that the noise is coming from the record player, you should try and find out if you are mistaking the rumbling noise for humming. Remember, the rumble is the outcome of the roughness in its mechanism that vibrates the stylus, so if you hear any disturbance when the music starts but stops when you lift the stylus on the disc, it is rumbling.
The cause of the rumble is misaligned idlers and drive wheels or dirt. If the rumble is a hum, then you should check the following:
- The cartridge leads are too close to the motor wiring
- Loose grounding bond between the deck and motor frame
- Bad shield connection to pre-amplifier chassis, deck, and cartridge case
- Pickup can be affected by the motor’s hum field
With its motor running, you should try swinging its arm across the turntable. If the humming worsens when the pickup is over, the motor is the cause. If you have a separate tonearm, you should mount it in different positions. (source)
A worn or old stylus can cause the vinyl record to produce ominous or scratchy noises. But if it has some ground issues, it will start making humming noises. In this case, you may have to connect your system directly to the wall outlet.
There are many solutions for the humming noises, with the main one being connecting the turntable to the ground earth cable. If the cause of the humming is feedback, then you should move it away from the source of the humming noises, like the speaker or external amplifier.
The leading causes of humming are feedback and ground loops. The ground loops get triggered by grounding issues which you can easily correct by adding a ground cable. But with feedback, you have to relocate the turntable to another surface away from the source of the humming noises.
Nothing is more disappointing than a loud humming noise disrupting your music experience. And to make it worse, the humming noise can increase when you increase the voice. Luckily, there are many methods you can use to eliminate the humming noises.
- Eugene Coriell, How to Banish HI-Fi Noise and Hum, Accessed December 26, 2021
- Steven John, Why Vinyl Records are Making a Comeback in 2021, Accessed December 26, 2021
- Scott Shpak, What Causes Static Noise in Turntables? Accessed December 26, 2021
- Shure contributors, Hum in a Hi-Fi System or Turntable, Accessed December 26, 2021
- YouTube contributor, How to Fix Humming and Buzzing Noises From Your Turntable, Accessed December 26, 2021
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