written by: Finn Orfano•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 11/23/2009
Some tips on why your speakers might be putting out static noise and how to fix the problem in either Windows XP or Vista.
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Computer Speaker Static
Having static come through your computer speakers is an annoying thing to deal with, and what’s even more annoying is trying to figure out what’s causing the static. It could be any number of things, from magnetic interference to the cables simply not being plugged in all the way. In this article, I’ll go through what you need to do in order to get rid of computer speaker static.
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Check the Cables
The first thing you should do is makes sure everything is plugged in properly. With the standard 1/8" audio jack cables, they do sometimes causes static interference if not plugged in all the way. Check your speaker connection, which is usually located on the back of a desktop, and make sure it is pushed in. You could even take the cable out, wipe it off with a soft cloth, and then stick it back in there. Sometimes rotating it around in the hole will help, too. It might be a fingerprint or dust that is causing the connection to get interrupted and therefore making static sounds come out of your speakers.
In my experience, one of the more common causes for speaker static is electrical interference. Make sure your speaker wires are not running across any power cables. I know sometimes this is hard to do when you have a big jumble of cables behind your computer. Even in that mess, try to make sure your speaker wire isn’t coiled around the computer’s power cable, or any other cable for that matter. Also make sure it doesn’t have any knots or kinks that could disrupt the signal that travels down the thin wires inside. Desktop lamps can also interfere with the speaker, so make sure those lamp wires are also out of the way.
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Shielded vs. Unshielded Speakers
Most speakers designed for use on desktop computers are going to be magnetically shielded. In case you didn’t know, speakers have magnets inside of them. These large magnets can interfere with other electronic equipment, so computer speakers are shielded to cut that out. What you have to watch out for are speakers designed for MP3 players or personal radios that are not magnetically shielded. If you are buying new speakers, they should say something on the box about being shielded. With LCD monitors, this isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be with the large CRT monitors, but it is still best not to have unshielded magnets around your computer equipment.
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Check the volume controls for your speakers and make sure the levels are not maxed out. You can access the volume by going to the Windows Control Panel and click on Sound in Vista or Volume in XP. You can also double-click the speaker icon in your taskbar. The volume levels should be set around the halfway point on most systems. If you are overdriving the output to your speakers, then this could definitely cause static because the sound is too loud coming out of your computer. You want to balance the volume control so that you can adjust the speakers normally instead of just turning the volume knob a hair and going from quiet to very loud.
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Sound Card Drivers and Hardware
Note: If your computer is under warranty, don’t perform these tasks or you could void your warranty. Instead, contact the manufacturer’s tech support for further instructions.
If all else fails, you can also try reinstalling or updating the drivers for your sound card. You’ll have to consult your PC manufacturer’s website to determine what you have, but chances are that if you bought your computer from a retailer then the sound hardware is built into the motherboard. If your sound card is an actual removable sound card, you might also consider moving it to a different slot on the motherboard. You must also consider the fact that something might be wrong with the sound hardware and replacement could be in order.