Studio Monitors Not Working: 15 Causes and Solutions

When you listen to your recording on a studio monitor, you can easily identify flaws in your audio. Should your monitors stop working, your recording will be affected. Unfortunately, regular speakers aren’t an option because they’ll mask faults in your recording. 

Studio monitors stop working due to a blown fuse, excessive amplification, unbalanced cables, or compression effects. Often, the problem isn’t entirely related to the studio speakers but the other studio installations, like the DAW and power connections. 

Your studio monitors are important assets in your studio, and when they stop working, everything can grind to a halt. This article provides 15 possible causes for studio monitors not working and their solutions. 

Studio monitors

1. Blown Fuse

Streamlabs OBS - How to Fix No Desk... x
Streamlabs OBS - How to Fix No Desktop Sound/Audio

A blown fuse in your studio monitor will generally result in a rattling or buzzing sound. In some cases, the monitor won’t power on, and you may even notice a burning smell. 

If the fuse blows often, you’ll need to look for the underlying issue. For example, the transformers within the studio monitors might be damaged. 

Solutions

  • Change the fuse and see if all these problems are eliminated. 
  • If your fuse blows frequently and the monitors are still under warranty, return them for a replacement. 

If needed, this video can walk you through how to locate the fuse in your studio monitor, how to check if it’s blown, and how to fix the problem:

2.Improperly Installed Driver

An improperly installed driver will cause your studio monitors to produce regular crackling sounds. Check your computer to confirm that all the drivers and other programs are running correctly. 

Solutions

  • If the drivers are the problem, uninstall and then run them again.  
  • Check if there are any updates to help improve the functions. 

Unfortunately, crackling sounds in studio monitors have multiple causes. If the problem persists, consider the other possible causes of the crackling sounds. 

3. Overheated Parts 

Studio monitors naturally heat up when they’re in use. Amplifiers generate heat, and the monitors have vents to release the heat. Unfortunately, when the monitor is overwhelmed by the heat released, it’ll shut down in self-preservation. 

Some studio monitors have heat sinks to keep them from overheating. Unfortunately, some studio monitors don’t have inbuilt mechanisms to prevent heat damage to the electronics. 

Studio monitors tend to overheat when used for an extended period or if you have turned the power output to the maximum level. Should this happen, the amplifier plate will get hot. Monitors with circuit protection will shut down and may not come back on until the system cools down. 

Solutions

  • Give your studio monitors a break. 
  • Check the fuse and change it if it’s blown. 
  • Get a technician to check other electrical parts that may have been damaged and have them replaced. 
  • Schedule your recordings, mixing, and mastering with breaks in between to give your monitors a chance to cool between sessions. 

For more information, check out some of these other articles:

4. Ground Loop

If you hear humming sounds and other communication errors through your studio monitors, the group loop might be the cause. 

A ground loop occurs when multiple devices are connected to the ground separately and then connected to one another using a cable. Unfortunately, multiple sounds and frequencies from the different outlets will merge and create a buzz in your studio monitors. 

Solutions

You can solve this problem by eliminating the ground loop. Plug all your devices in a power strip so that they all use the same power outlet. Use XLR cables (balanced cables) because they isolate and eliminate external sounds and noises. 

If you prefer having your devices plugged in different outlets, you can choose a wireless connection, like Bluetooth or WiFi, between your devices instead of using a cable. 

The Furman Sound 8 Outlet Surge Suppressor (available on Amazon.com) will protect your studio equipment from power surges, and at the same time, eliminate the ground loop. It has an automatic voltage shutdown system and a zero ground contamination circuit that guarantees a clear audio output. 

Furman Sound 8 Outlet Surge Suppressor
  • Advanced Linear Filtering dramatically reduces AC line noise and contamination resulting in improved audio/video clarity
  • Series Multi-Stage Protection Plus (SMP+) for the highest level of AC surge suppression; Automatic extreme voltage shutdown guards your valuable equipment from dangerous wiring faults
  • Zero ground contamination circuitry assures the delivery of pure AC power thus protecting critical audio/video components

Last update on 2022-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This video gives tips on how you can troubleshoot and eliminate buzz, crackle, and other unwanted sound signals coming from your studio monitor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4famaQmWnA

5. Poor Cable Layout

Sometimes, the hiss and buzz sound you get from your studio monitors come from power and speaker cables running parallel. 

Solutions

If the sound interference results from cables running parallel to one another, you can solve the problem by opting for a perpendicular crossing. Alternatively, you can use balanced cables or run power cables far from the monitor cables. 

6. Loose Cables

Some cables, like the IEC2 or IEC3 cables, tend to come loose within their housing. It’s easy to assume they’re plugged in and working when they’re not. Check the cables connected to your studio monitors to confirm that they are properly plugged in. 

7. Faults at the Power Source

Sometimes your studio monitor may fail to work because there’s a problem with the power outlet. 

Solutions

  • Test other appliances on the same outlet or check if your monitor works when plugged in an alternative outlet. 
  • If the problem is the outlet, find the cause and solution, especially if it’s the best outlet for your studio monitor and other equipment. 

8. Excessive Amplification

Studio monitors can also fail to work effectively because of overamplification. When you over-amplify the DAW software, audio interface, or monitors, you may inadvertently cause sounds you don’t want to be emitted through the monitors. The typical problematic sounds these cause are hissing, buzzing, or crackling. 

9. Unbalanced Cables

Your studio monitors may not be working as expected because you’re using unbalanced cables. These have two cables: one for the signal and one to act as a shield. Unbalanced cables don’t have the mechanism to block out unwanted signals. 

Check the jack on your cable. If it has one rubber ring, then it’s an unbalanced cable. 

Solutions

Change your cable and get a balanced cable. This cable has two rubber rings on the jack. A balanced cable has three wires: two that carry the signal and one for the ground (shield). The polarity is reversed twice in the balanced cables. 

The unwanted signals that would have interfered with your studio monitors are eliminated. You can now analyze your recording and mix or master it without external sounds. 

This Elebase 10ft (3 m) 2-pack Balanced Cable (available on Amazon.com) is great for connecting electric guitars, mixers, amplifiers, and studio monitors. It has a double layer shielding, gold-plated connectors that minimize signal interference, and a flexible nylon-braided shell. 

Elebase 1/4 Inch TRS Instrument Cable (10ft 2-Pack),Straight 6.35mm Male Jack Stereo Audio Interconnect Cord,6.35 Balanced Line Compatible for Electric Guitar,Bass,Keyboard,Mixer,Amplifier,Amp,Speaker
  • You can easily connect an electric guitar, bass, or keyboard to an amplifier or any audio equipment that supports mono or stereo signals.
  • Constructed with premium copper conductor, two-layer shielding, and TRS gold-plated connectors to minimizes signal interference.
  • Ultra-durable design with sleek aluminum shell and high-quality nylon braided jacket to withstand daily twists and pulls.

Last update on 2022-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10. Microphones Are Too Close to Your Studio Monitors

If a high-pitched squeal is coming from your studio monitors, check the position of your microphone. If it’s too close to your studio monitors, the microphones will pick up the sounds from the monitors. This creates a loop, and it’s easy to assume the problem is within your studio monitors. 

Solutions

You can prevent the feedback from bouncing between the studio monitors and the microphone by recording as far away from the monitors as possible. If you can, use headphones when recording. 

If you have to use a mic, reduce the microphone gain. The gain amplifies the sounds you produce when recording with a microphone. By reducing the gain, it’ll reduce the feedback. 

11. Compression Effects 

Compression is important in audio recording because it helps balance the loud and quiet parts of a recording. Mixing engineers also use compression to apply audio effects, such as delay and reverb. However, over-compression can be a problem since it causes the quieter sounds, such as hisses and crackles, to be more audible. 

Solution

Since compression is important, you should find the ideal threshold for rich sound without enhancing crackles and hisses. 

12. Operating Studio Monitors at Loud Volumes for a Long Time

Some studio monitors (especially the high-end varieties) have sensitive parts that are easily affected when working with too high of a volume for long periods. 

Solutions

If you notice strange sounds from studio monitors, have a technician check for damaged parts. This is likely if high volumes have been consistently used for a long time. 

Fortunately, you can prevent this problem by following the guidelines on the maximum volume to use. You may want to also use limiters so there’s always a reminder when you’re exceeding the threshold. 

13. Problem With the DAW 

If no sound is coming from your studio monitor, including your audio recordings, MIDI, and instruments, check if the problem is in the DAW. It’s possible to hear other sounds, such as the plugged instruments, through the monitors. 

If everything else seems to be coming through, except for sounds from the DAW, check for possible problems within the DAW software. 

Solutions

Check your mix control, audio, and master bus settings. It’s possible that you failed to configure one of the settings during the setup. 

Also check all your connections to the studio monitor. Some loose or missing cables may be responsible for the absence of sound from the DAW. 

14. Powering Studio Equipment in the Wrong Sequence

One of the arguments against plugging all your studio equipment in one power outlet is the risk of all your equipment coming on simultaneously. The initial power surge may be a problem for interconnected equipment, especially the studio monitors. 

The best practice recommended by professionals is to turn the monitors on last and off first. This prevents the loud pops as the other studio equipment powers-up. 

When studio equipment doesn’t follow the right powering sequence:

  • A power surge may cause your studio monitors and other equipment to blow. 
  • You may trip a circuit-breaker. 
  • Delicate electronic instruments, such as digital synths, can crash. 

Solutions

  • Have a power distribution box with a power sequencing option. 
  • Have a surge protector installed to protect your studio monitors and other equipment. 
  • Unplug sensitive equipment from the power source at the end of the day, and then plug them in following the recommended sequence when powering them on. 
  • Check your monitor to see if the fuse has blown up if it fails to power on. 

If you need a surge protector, I suggest the SUPERDANNY Power Strip USB Surge Protector (available on Amazon.com). It has a built-in 900J surge protector and provides high-efficiency for all your electronic devices. The mountable charging station even has 4 smart USB ports.

Power Strip USB Surge Protector - SUPERDANNY 16.4ft Mountable Charging Station with 4 Widely Spaced Outlets & 4 Smart USB Ports, Desktop Extension Cord for Home, Office, Hotel, Dorm, Room, RV, Black
  • ▶【All-in-One Charging Station】4 smart-charging USB slots & 4 widely spaced outlets are all protected by a 2-in-1 on/off switch and circuit breaker with an LED indicator that will automatically shut off if it’s overloaded. High efficiency for charging your phone, Airpods, earbuds, headphones, smartwatch, Bluetooth speaker, ps4 controller, tablet, computer, laptop, TV, table lamp, printer, scanner, and other electronic devices.
  • ▶【Wide Spaced Outlets】4 non-interfering outlets could fit in 4 large adapters. This 5ft black power station ( rated current 10A) is designed with universal voltages: 110V-240V. It will automatically adapt to the wall outlet voltage it is plugged in. Used in the United States (110-125V), its max power is 125V x 10A = 1250W. (Calculation Formula: P=UI.) This square power strip block is widely adaptable with plugs and devices and it will absolutely meet your needs!
  • ▶【Smart USB Charger】5V/3.1A shared by the 4 USB slots, with 0-2.4A/port for charging USB-powered electronics. With smart IC technology, these USB ports are able to detect the plugged devices and automatically provide them the fastest possible yet safe charging current within the output capability.

Last update on 2022-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

15. Improper Placement of Studio Monitors

Studio speakers not performing as well as you expected could be due to the positioning. When it comes down to it, where you place your monitors is almost as important as the room’s acoustic treatment. 

For example, when playing recordings on your studio monitor, there may be an unnatural boost in sound, which is deceptive. When you listen to your recording on regular speakers, you may discover the bass is too low. The problem might not be the studio monitors but where you’ve placed them. 

The problem with placing speakers in the wrong place is you get a false impression of your track mix. When you release it to the public, they won’t hear what you did through your studio speakers; you’ll likely blame the monitors. Which in a sense is correct, but the problem isn’t the speakers, it’s the position. 

Solutions

  • If working in a rectangular room, place your studio monitors along the longest side to reduce side wall reflections. 
  • If your room is square, treat it like a diamond and place studio monitors diagonally in one corner, and don’t put the speakers too close to the wall. 

To help provide a visual of how you could do this and get tips on how best to set up your sound system for a better sound output, check out this video by Kettner Creative:

Conclusion

Some of the common problems with studio monitors are failure to power on, absence of sound, distorted sounds, and signal interference. These problems could be a result of different issues, as illustrated. Be sure to consider the various possible causes for studio monitors not working as expected to find a lasting solution. 

Sources

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!

Recent Posts