How To Get Rid of a Ground Hum in a Home Studio


You’ve installed all the equipment in your home studio and are ready for the perfect recording or listening session. You turn things on, the equipment buzzes, and the amps turn on, but suddenly your attention is diverted to that tell-tale hissing noise. So, how do you get rid of a ground hum in a home studio?

To get rid of a ground hum in a home studio, power your equipment through one AC socket. If you have more equipment, plug everything into a power strip; use a surge protector if you worry about circuit pressure. You can also use filters and sound-removing tools to edit the hum out of recordings.

This article will provide information on what ground hum is, what it tells you about your system, how you should get rid of it, and more.

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What Is Ground Hum, and How Do You Get Rid of It?

If you’re unaware of ground loop hum, this phenomenon typically occurs when various equipment is connected into the AC socket at two different internals but are linked together. This generally happens when a composite, component, RCA, and HDMI are connected through optical cables.

When that happens, this creates a system that takes in noise through electromagnetic induction.

How Do You Get Rid of Ground Loop Hum?

The best way to remove this noise is to go straight to the source. Take everything out, then power all different pieces of equipment through one AC socket.

If you have more than two pieces, you can use a power strip or an extension lead, plug everything into that, then connect that to the socket. If you’re worried about the increased pressure that may put on your household circuits, you can add a surge protector.

However, if it’s become impossible for you to connect all equipment to one extension cord, you could take this opportunity to invest in self-powered subwoofers and speakers. 

If not, another feature to invest in is a hum eliminator, like the Pyle Compact Mini Hum Eliminator. This device interrupts the loop in your signal cables and can be very handy if you encounter the same problem in other locations. But, keep in mind, this is a temporary solution. 

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Compact Mini Hum Eliminator Box - 2 Channel Passive Ground Loop Isolator, Noise Filter, AC Buzz Destroyer, Hum Killer w/ 1/4' TRS Phone, XLR Input/Output, Uses 1:1 Isolation Transformer - Pyle PHE400
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Compact Mini Hum Eliminator Box - 2 Channel Passive Ground Loop Isolator, Noise Filter, AC Buzz Destroyer, Hum Killer w/ 1/4" TRS Phone, XLR Input/Output, Uses 1:1 Isolation Transformer - Pyle PHE400
  • Removes AC noise: The Pyle hum eliminator removes 60Hz AC hum caused by ground loops that act like Radio antennae (loop antenna). breaks the ground loop safely making it impossible for the signal lines to pick up the AC noise in the first place
  • Passive device: The noise isolator is a passive device which does not require power to operate. Equipped w/ ¼” TRS phone and XLR inputs and outputs on 2 channels. Automatically converts unbalanced to balanced signal without any signal loss
  • Compact design: This noise filter device features a high performance Ultra compact and portable design allowing you to easily bring it anywhere. It has high quality components and rugged construction while maintaining the highest sonic quality

If these solutions don’t fix your ground hum problem, the only thing left to do is to check your cable TV coax cable or OTA antenna (over-the-air antenna). This may likely happen if you connect your equipment directly to a video recorder or your television, which in turn is connected to a cable box or cable modem. These pieces of equipment have built-in isolation, which interferes with your overall system. 

If you trace your issue to your TV signal wire, find a ground loop isolator to create a bridge for your equipment.

For more information, check out this article about how to soundproof a room inside a room.

Factor in Additional Noise

In addition to ground loop hums, unfortunately, there’s plenty of other equipment that can also create unwanted noise and cause interruptions.

Anything from a blender or hairdryer to dimming fluorescent fixtures can create audible electrical interference, which can, in turn, ruin your experience while recording or listening to music or working. The only way to remove such noise is to not be near it at all. However, for someone running a home studio, this isn’t that simple. 

Nevertheless, you could invest in your home studio by buying an external power source such as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS works as a battery-powered backup supply that keeps your systems engaged inside the home studio only. So, when the electrical power goes through the conversion process and returns to AC, the UPS ensures that all electrical noise is removed. 

An online UPS is a sure-fire purchase if you want to use your home studio actively. And while the hefty price tag of an online UPS will make you think twice about buying one, the results you’ll gain from using a UPS will more than make up for its cost.

For more information, check out this article about soundproofing your room cheaply.

What If I Can’t Afford UPS?

Another option that’s relatively cheaper than the UPS is the isolation transformer. It works effectively in removing all line noise by turning used AC into clean AC through electromagnetic induction. An isolation transformer is a good idea if you have sensitive equipment affected by even minimal line noise. If that’s the case, an isolation transformer would be a great choice.

Check Your Wires

With wires, you only have a few rules to abide by.

For example, keep the power cables away from the single cables connected to your equipment, even if they are well-shielded, because that will create ground hum. If you can use balanced output and input signal cables, use that option, as such wires will have a smaller chance of being affected audibly. 

Also, when choosing wires, go with the best-quality choices, even if it costs more. Cables and wires don’t cost a fortune, to begin with.

You’ll have a range to choose from, with options such as gold, nickel, chrome, and copper. Gold wires may seem fine, but gold isn’t a good conductor of electricity. Neither are nickel, chrome, and platinum. Copper wires with gold connectors are the best option, but even then, that is not ideal.

When buying wires, instead of checking which metal the wires are made of, check whether the wires are microphonic. If they are, steer clear of them. Such wires have loose, poor shielding and can affect audio quality. Buy wires that are slimmer in size, have adequate shielding, and are worth the price. You’ll be better off with a pricy wire instead of a cheap one.

How To Remove Ground Hum From Recordings

You’ve recorded something, and it’s only after that you realize that there’s a high-pitch nasty noise in the background, faint but present. You could go back and re-record the audio entirely. But that may cost time, money, and your patience!

In such cases, there are two options you could go with:

Filtering

A notch filter comes free with almost all video or audio editing software to have notch filters in your set-up. Check your recording and find the particular frequency at which the hum becomes audible, then apply a notch filter. That should remove the sound entirely without affecting your audio.

But, let’s say the hum is at a lower or higher spectrum of the recording, but your audio is not. Here, a low pass or high pass filter should take care of the recorded noise without causing any damage to your audio.

Advanced Tools

Let’s assume that the hum in the background isn’t from any equipment or ground hum, but an external source, like the air conditioner or additional sound coming to the mic. It might even be sounds from the instruments streaming through. Filtering or any of the above details will not work in repairing this problem.

Instead, we’d recommend using a noise-removal algorithm. You can also use other sound-removing tools such as iZotope RX8. However, such tools cost money and can be a bit out-of-budget if you’re starting in the industry.

Nevertheless, if the audio is beyond salvageable, you’ll be much better off re-recording the audio. This way, you’ll be assured that you have the hum and all other sounds taken care of.

For more information, check out this article about where to put bass traps in a home studio.

Closing Thoughts

Every part of this article offers help in preventing your audio from getting damaged by external noise and sounds. Use them to your advantage, and follow other tricks to make your studio soundproof. Use sound shields, soundproofing acoustic tiles, sound breaker bars, better quality equipment, and top-quality wiring.

Everything you add to your home studio will impact the type of audio or video you create. At least now, with the ground loop hum fixed, you’ll have the energy and the space to give your creative pieces the attention they need.

Sources

Last update on 2021-06-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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