While studio monitors are critical for audio recording and production, you might notice a hissing sound coming from them. The hiss can get in the way of whatever you’re trying to listen to when recording or producing music. Some of the reasons why a monitor might hiss are more surprising than you might expect.
Why Do Studio Monitors Hiss?
Studio monitors can hiss from unbalanced cables, analog equipment used in the playback or protection effort, and amplifier gain. A group loop can also be a problem. Your lines could also have malfunctioning parts, or the speaker itself is blown.
Stop the Issue!
You can stop the hissing sounds in your studio monitors if you know why those sounds are first starting. The problems that cause the hissing can be bothersome, but they aren’t as tough to fix as you might expect.
1. Unbalanced Cables
Unbalanced cables often cause hissing in studio monitors. An unbalanced cable uses two lines, with one carrying a signal and the other holding the ground. The ground line is a shield that protects the primary movement and prevents outside interference. But the cable cannot remove any interference that might appear while in operation.
Many people use unbalanced cables because they are cheaper to find. But these cables aren’t always going to be as practical and helpful as you would wish. They might create excess noise if not handled well. The added stress that comes from some cables may also be a worry for people.
2. Poor-Quality Wires
The weak wires on an audio system can produce hiss. The AC electrical signals in your wires are critical to carrying out the sounds you want to playback. Hiss can develop when you notice issues with the wiring. You can also experience humming, popping, and crackling if the wires aren’t working well enough.
A wire might have loose connections. The soldering job may also be worn at times. These threats may make it harder for you to keep a wire running well.
Radiofrequency interference or RFI is another threat to notice. The interference occurs when outside signals get in the way of an audio system. Wireless devices and some Bluetooth devices can use radio frequency carrier signals to move data around wirelessly. But the different signals that come from the setup might get in the way of your studio monitor connections, producing hiss as a result.
4. Interference From Other Equipment Pieces
You might find interference from various other equipment pieces you use in your space. Some parts of equipment might produce separate ground loops where they will draw power. The ground loops can interference with your studio monitor’s connection, making excess hiss in whatever you are trying to hear.
The interference can come from having too many wires in one area. Wireless connections and signals may also be a problem in some instances.
5. Amplifier Gain
Amplifier gain is another threat that can influence your studio monitors. You might use an amplifier to hear some of the sounds you’re recording. But excess volume on your amplifier can cause hiss to develop. You may be boosting the sound, but it also makes it easier for you to hear some of the background effects that might appear on one end.
You can notice the hiss in an amplifier when you turn up its volume high enough. While you might add gain to the signal, you’re also adding noise to that signal. The noise will come out as hiss and will become distracting in many situations.
6. Computer Noise
There’s also the concern of computer noise, as some computer devices can produce electromagnetic interference. A motherboard or sound card can generate excess noise while in operation. You cannot remove electromagnetic interference from these items.
Sometimes the computer can also produce noise from the digital-to-analog conversion process. The excess noise comes from the effort necessary to produce analog signals that people can hear.
7. Speaker Stability
Sometimes a speaker might be blown from excess noise. A blown speaker can be produced by excess noise or extra power added to the voice coil. These threats make it harder for the speaker to stay functional. You’ll be more likely to hear hissing sounds and other unwelcome effects when you try using a blown speaker that isn’t stable.
Solutions to Consider
These common reasons why studio monitors hiss can be frustrating, but you can prevent these problems from being worse if you know what you can do here. Here are a few tips to note:
- Use balanced cables when getting your studio monitors up and running. The three lines in the thread will reverse their polarity when they connect to a jack, thus preventing potential interference and hissing from developing.
- Reconfigure whatever pieces of equipment you use when getting your studio monitors ready. Keep everything far apart from one another to prevent excess noise from developing in your system.
- Check the gain stages on any amplifiers you use, and make sure you configure your amplifiers to where you can hear the music without producing hiss. Sometimes keeping the volume down is good enough.
- Replace old or frayed wires when necessary. New cables will be less likely to produce excess hiss.
- Look at whether the devices you’re using when listening to or producing music are necessary. Some materials might not be required and could create RFI.
- Use more external audio interfaces if possible. These items can link to a USB or Thunderbolt connection. The outer material prevents the mechanisms inside your computer from producing excess noise, plus the need to convert audio signals may not be as dramatic.
- Replace any blown speaker, as anything that has damage, will be more likely to produce extra hiss.
These solutions can ensure you won’t worry about excess hiss when using a monitor. You’ll need your monitor to be as sturdy and functional as possible for it to work, so watch what you’re getting out of whatever setup you will use before you start your work.