Speaker Hum


I just moved into a new (to me, actually built in the mid 60s) house where no matter which outlet I use I get an audible hum through the speakers when the volume of the integrated amp is pushed past 50%. Would any power conditioners improve or eliminate this severe of a problem? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Ag insider logo xs@2xjdm11
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Yes same hum regardless of input. Also I thought of the tv so I unplugged everything except the amp. With just the amp plugged in the speakers hum starting at just over 50% volume and get the hum gets pretty loud as you get near max volume.

You sure it's not either cable TV as @fuzztone suggested, or an internet (Wi-Fi) modem nearby?

I do have both a modem and tv nearby but all of those outlets are plugged into one dedicated strip. So I unplugged the strip while testing the hum. The only things I left plugged in were the amplifier and the speakers, which have powered subwoofers. My other components - turntable, phono stage, streamer, etc. were plugged in but powered off. Maybe I need to disconnect them all from the amp as well or that doesn't make any sense? 

Two steps which might help diagnose the problem.

Disconnect the internet/tv cable from the cable box or/and modem.

Try a cheater plug.

In my situation both helped so I purchased a Jensen VRD-1FF IsoMax Digital RF Isolator.  Problem was solved.

Thanks jetter appreciate the feedback I'm going to follow your steps and see how it goes.

Our house was built in the '60s also, and some of the wiring was somewhat upgraded and some was the original 2 blade outlets and it had the glass screw-in fuse box.  One of the best (and actually relatively affordable) upgrades I ever did was to buy a circuit breaker panel at either Lowes or Home Depot (this was about 25 years ago, so some of the detail is a tad foggy) and then I installed some new outlets for my system and then I ran ROMEX down the walls and through my attic to where it could come down and meet the new panel and then I hired an electrician to install the box and hook my new circuits up.

I have read a ton of ongoing & recent threads on this forum and the amps/preamps forum since October, and by scrolling down to October in both forums, I am sure you would come across them.  Everyone seems to agree that a good circuit is a cost effective upgrade; there disagreement on the best way to run the circuit(s). 

I would say not likely for a power conditioner to work, and if it did maybe for the wrong reasons.

Given the age of your home, first thing to do is to have an electrician have it fully checked out.  Make sure any 3 prong outlets have a valid ground wire which is properly grounded outside.

You might also consider a good tester like this one:

 

 

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@jdm11

It also might help us diagnose the problem if you gave us a few more details, like:

-equipment connected via RCA or XLR or both?

-how many pieces of audio equipment have 3 prong AC plugs, how many have 2 prong AC plugs?

-how long your RCA cable runs are?

-generally speaking (or you can get specific) how many and what pieces of audio equipment are interconnected?

-is all audio equipment in the same room?

Those are right off the top of my head.

 

If your speakers have powered subs, could you be having a ground loop problem? You have a cord for the amp and each speaker. So that’s 3 plus a source. Do you have a power filter or gang outlet on an extension cord so you could try all 3 on one outlet ? Also the Chester plug is a good idea too. Regards , Mike B. 

Thanks for all the input everyone I appreciate it there's a lot to look into here. In terms of the specifics they are: 

- All equipment is on one wall. 

- On the video side I have a single wall (not gang) outlet and am using a 6 outlet surge protector power bar plugged into that. That bar has hdtv, roku, cable box, modem and 4k blu ray player plugged in. 

- The audio side and video side are about twelve feet apart.

- On the audio side I have another single wall (not gang) outlet and am using a 6 outlet surge protector power cord plugged into that. That bar has:

1) Rega Planar 3

2) Rega Phono MMK M3

3) HiFi Rose 250 Streamer

4) Marantz SACD 30N

5) PrimaLuna EVO 300 Integrated (stock tubes haven't been touched)

 

- The speakers may be a bit of a wrinkle here. The speakers are Goldenear Triton OneR's with powered subs. I'm running each sub directly to the second wall outlet receptacle. Due to distance I have to plug one in on the audio side and one in on the video side.

- So on the two wall outlets (twelve feet apart) one single wall outlet has all of the video components on a power bar plugged into outlet one and a speaker plugged into outlet two. The other single wall outlet has all of the audio components on a power bar plugged into outlet one and a speaker plugged into outlet two.

- Just to try something I unplugged everything except for the amp and the speakers. Then I plugged the amp into an extension cord and plugged it into about ten different outlets throughout three rooms. Hum stayed exactly the same.

- The amp, speakers, marantz and streamer are 3 pronged. Everything else is 2 pronged I believe.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

@jdm11 

So since the EVO 300 has all RCA ins and outs, I'm assuming all equipment is connected via RCA cables. Correct? 

Disconnect the internet/tv cable from the cable box or/and modem.

Still waiting to hear from you if this made a difference. To be clear, disconnect the coax cable from the cable company, so it makes no connection to your modem or cable box. 

Looking on the back of the OneR's, I can't tell if there's 3 prongs in the AC socket or just two? I think it's two, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Is it safe to assume the OneR's still reproduce sound if they aren't powered (ie, plugged into an outlet)? I understand the sub sections of them will not work, but does the rest of the speaker system work? If they still reproduce audio without the subs functioning, is the hum still there? Also, just try unplugging power to one of them, and see if that changes anything.

 

Sounds like a ground issue. Get the circuit  tester and make sure the plugs are grounded and wired right. Have an electrical  guy check the grounds in the main box make sure yhey are not loose or do that your self. Check the breaker grounds on the circuits  you are using as well as the ground make sure the box is bonded to the waterpipe and the gas line

 Regards

 

 

play some tunes, and unplug the HDMI cable to your tv from cable box.

this was my problem. when critical jamming, i unplug the HDMI cable. as quiet as a nun double clicking the mouse checking email.

 

 also I bought some Belden better shielded cable for amp to preamp, worked also !

Belden cables shielded better than the qudioquest topaz cables, have another pair, forget the name, great stuff, but the bolden shielded the radio tower, as i had high pitched radio chatter from my tweeters, 

 

try cables, and TRYT unplugging that darn HDMI cable.

DO they make a better shielded hdmi cable for this , or am i just doomed to unplug when listening?

im in the boat with you, .....lets share the oar .....we will figure this out, there are some very sharp people iim here. They have helped me for quite a many years.

 

im keeping an eye on this one...........

Yes thanks - all RCA cables connecting the audio. The speakers have 3 prongs in the socket. They do still play with the subs unplugged. I'm going to run through these tests. I just can't unplug the cable coax at the moment because all of the house feeds off this cable box so I'll start a riot. When I can I will run the tests and report what I find. 

Also when I moved in I had every outlet in the house with new GFIs - would the electrician have noticed if the box /  grounding in the house was off or not necessarily?

 

 

 

 

@jdm11

unplug the HDMI cable to your tv from cable box.

As articdeth suggested, this would be easier than disconnecting the coax cable from the modem or cable box, but if that doesn’t do anything, at some point I would try disconnecting the coax cable to the cable box or modem.

Also when I moved in I had every outlet in the house with new GFIs - would the electrician have noticed if the box / grounding in the house was off or not necessarily?

Most GFCI’s will not work correctly without a ground. Yes, they make ones that work in situations where a ground doesn’t exist, but if you had any of those, he would have had to install specific GFCI’s for that application. If this were the case, I think he would have mentioned this to you. Hard to say if he would have pointed out any other electrical abnormalities. Some houses that were built in the 60’s contained aluminum wiring instead of commonly used copper. Do you remember him mentioning anything about this to you? Not every house in the 60’s was built with aluminum, but it was more popular during that decade than any other.

Maybe I need to disconnect them all from the amp as well or that doesn’t make any sense?

YES! Definitely try that! If THAT fixes the problem, try plugging them back in one source at a time, and see when the hum starts again.

 

Are your outlets really grounded?  My house was built in 1962 and most of mine are not. A previous owner replaced outlets with GHI outlets for some reason and they’re NOT grounded! I had to run a new circuit to my listening room.

BTW, have you tried a cheater adapter? That has helped me more than once.

Certainly one of the more frustrating situations....In my case, after a lot of trial and error, my problem went away after I realized it was the wifi router. Moved it further away and problem disappeared for good.

If you listen with headphones  is the hum still there?

(I had an integrated amp that had a voltage leak from one of the components in the power amp section... headphones sounded great but speakers had a hum)

Sorry @dpop but all GFCI outlets will work without a ground. It is surge protectors that need.a ground.

 

Gfci outlets compare the current on the hot and neutrl and trip when they are not equal. Ground not required, but you are required to stick the little "no ground" stickers on.

@erik_squires 

all GFCI outlets will work without a ground

You are correct. I never knew that before. Thanks for pointing that out! The situation could be very deceiving for some (especially audio-enthusiasts plugging their audio equipment into GFCI's that they think incorporate a true earth ground), since the GFCI will trip when needed, even though a true earth ground may not be present on the particular GFCI.  

@dpop That’s why you are sopposed to add the little labels which no one does and no one reads. 😁

GFCI’s are the only approved way of adding a ground pin outlet where a ground wire does not exist.

Really, any audiophile moving into a home needs to do a thorough inspection. My home was only 15 years old when I moved in and I eventually replaced 100% of the light switches and about 70% of the outlets (so far). All the crap I found. Corroded outlets, loose wires, intermittent switches, wrong outlet types or wrong covers, stuff stuck in outlets, scorch marked outlets and wire terminals.

I’m not going to advocate for cryogenically treated hospital grade outlets, but damn, I sleep a lot better at night by going through the basics thoroughly and getting rid of all the back-stabbed connections. 

After reading through the thread I am unsure if you tried this. After 20 years in the same house my speakers developed a hum one day this year. I tried unplugging everything one at a time including the cable box to no avail. Still had a hum. At the suggestion of the amplifier manufacturer I disconnected the COAX from the wall to the cable box. No hum. Installed a COAX inline isolation transformer and no hum (or maybe 99% less hum). I was misled thinking unplugging the cable box was the same as disconnecting the cable box COAX in. FWIW.

Jim S.

@erik_squires

any audiophile moving into a home needs to do a thorough inspection.

Totally agree, and I too also recommend and encourage it be done. In addition to running some new circuits, I replaced all switches and outlets in my home when I moved in 21 years ago. Yeah, I too hate the back stabbed method of connecting outlets or switches. None currently exist in my home, and when doing maintenance work anywhere else, I never ever use that method of connection.

If you look at my virtual system pictures, you’ll see the meter I use to measure my home ground system resistance (which measures under 1 ohm). It’s a meter I also use in the radio broadcast industry to measure ground resistances in broadcast facilities.

 

Hi everyone thanks for all the input. Since my last post I:

1 – Unplugged HDMI cable - no difference

2 – Unplugged COAX - no difference

3 – Unplugged powered subs - no difference

4 – All RCA ins and outs unplugged - no difference

5 – The hum is still there with the headphones plugged in (through the headphones)  

6 – Checked - there are no labels on any of the outlets regarding grounding

So since I know nothing about electric I'm assuming the next move is to contact an electrician? 

Thanks everybody

 

 

 

  

@jdm11

-Do you have the ability to take the amp to another location (with headphones), and try it there?

-Before you call an electrician, I would try turning off all circuit breakers except the one that powers the amp.

-I’m wondering if you have a ground and neutral switched inside the house somewhere.

-jetter suggested trying a cheater plug (3 prong to two prong adapter). If you haven’t already tried it, I also recommend doing that before calling an electrician.

-erik_squires recommended purchasing an outlet tester (pretty much any brand or type purchased at Home Depot or a hardware store will do), and plugging it into your outlets for testing them.

-Are you noticing any other electrical abnormalities in your home?