How to Fix Hissing Sound From Speakers When Not Playing Music

You can eliminate a hissing sound from your speakers when not playing music by changing the speaker cords, switching electrical outlets, and removing sources of potential inference. It depends on the cause of the hiss for the best solution. 

My name is Donovan, and I’ve been making music and working with audio equipment for a few decades. I’ve dealt with plenty of noisy speakers over the years, and I know how to handle hisses through first-hand experience. 

This post will show you how to fix a hissing sound from speakers when music isn’t playing. I’ll walk you through several potential fixes for this problem and show you how to troubleshoot the situation to remove hisses in the future. 

Let’s get after it. 

Key Takeaways

  • Hissing speakers when music isn’t playing can be caused by multiple sources, including a bad cable, grounding issues, and electrical or magnetic interference. 
  • The exact fix for this problem depends on what is causing the hiss in the first place. 
  • Grounding issues can be fixed by changing cables or switching electrical outlets. 
  • Interference issues can be fixed by moving the source of the interference away from your audio system. 
  • Some speakers will always hiss, especially if they have a built-in amplifier. You’ll need to turn them off to eliminate the problem. 

Hissing Sound From Speakers When Not Playing Music: Causes and Fixes

In this section, I’ll walk you through most of the potential causes for a speaker to hiss when music isn’t playing. Then I’ll show you how to fix each issue. You might need to try several of them to deal with your particular situation. 

Since speakers can hiss for various reasons, you will likely need to troubleshoot a few possible fixes before successfully dealing with the problem. But most of these fixes are pretty simple and easy to fix. 

Cause #1 – Unbalanced or Bad Cables

If you have studio monitor type of speakers with inputs for speaker cords on the back rather than speaker wire, the hiss could be caused because one or both of these cables are bad. Cables wear out and need to be repaired from time to time. 

If your speakers have a standard speaker wire running into them, this probably isn’t your problem. But if you look on the back of your speakers and see a ¼-inch, XLR, or other type of common recording studio cable running into it, these might need to be replaced. 

Ungrounded cables aren’t broken, but they don’t have shielding to protect from interference that causes hissing, so you’ll want to change to balanced cables to fix this issue. 

How to fix it: 

Changing out the bad cable for a new cable is the best way to fix this problem. While it is technically possible to fix a bad cable, it’s much more common just to replace it outright. Just be sure to purchase the same cable type so you have an easy swap. 

You can check to see if your cable might be bad by picking it up and moving it around. If you hear more hissing or other noises when you touch or move it, it’s a good indicator that the cable is bad. 

Balanced cables have a third wire running through them for grounding purposes. If you aren’t sure if the cables you are looking at are balanced or not, it should say so in the product description. 

Cause #2 – Power Cord Problems

The power cord to your speakers, receiver, audio interface, or other components in your audio setup might also be the cause of your hiss. This is similar to having a bad or unbalanced speaker cord. 

Sometimes the standard 3-prong power cords can cause hisses because of the ground prong. You can use an adapter to change it to a 2-prong type of cable, and this might help you fix the buzzing sound. 

Your power cord can also go bad, so if it looks word or you see any rips or exposed wires, that’s a good indicator of this problem. 

How to Fix It: 

If you have a bunch of power cords plugged into many wall sockets, you should consolidate those into a single socket if possible. Using a surge protector or expander will give you more plugs from the same socket. 

You can also use a 2-prong type of extension cord to run from your power cords into a wall socket. This will remove the ground line and possibly eliminate the hiss. But this is a little dangerous, so do so at your own risk. 

If your power cable is bad, you’ll want to get it replaced. You can typically purchase a new cable and swap it out quickly. If your power cable is hard-wired into your amp, receiver, or other equipment, you might be unable to replace it. 

Cause #3 – Electromagnetic Interference 

Many commonly used devices can interfere with the audio signal and cause hissing from your speakers when music isn’t being played. Devices such as your smartphone or laptop can be the cause for your buzz or hum. 

Desktop computers, WiFi routers, and other devices can also create an electromagnetic signal that your speakers will pick up. If you have any of these devices set up near your speakers, that could be the cause of your hiss. 

If you only hear the hiss when you get close to your speakers, it’s likely caused by the phone in your pocket. This is no big deal, but you’ll want to stay away from the speakers to eliminate the buzz.

Radios and other things that put out radio waves can also cause this interference. Basically anything that sends a signal can potentially get picked up by your speakers.  

How to fix it: 

The best way to deal with electromagnetic interference that causes hissing in your speakers is to remove the source of this interference. If an electronic device is causing it in your pocket on a laptop, simply keep those devices away from the speakers. 

If a desktop computer or WiFi router is the source of the interference, you’ll either want to find new homes for those devices or move your listening area to another location that’s far away from them. 

Any electronic device within an arm’s length from your speakers can cause interference. So keep the immediate area surrounding the speakers clear of unnecessary electronic devices. 

Cause #4 – Built-In Amplifiers 

If you have speakers with built-in amplifiers, that could also be the cause of your hissing problem. Using built-in amplifiers is very convenient, but there isn’t much you can do to eliminate potential hissing in this situation. 

Since the amp will always send a bit of electricity to the speakers, there will always be a slight hum, buzz, or hiss when music isn’t being played. It’s usually not that loud, but you can’t get rid of it. 

How to fix it: 

You can’t fix the hiss if it’s coming from built-in amplifiers. There will always be current supplied to the speakers that will be present whenever music is not playing. But it’s typically not that load, so you should be able to deal with it. 

The Ultimate Fix

As you can see, there are plenty of potential causes for your speakers to hiss when music isn’t playing. And there is also a different fix for each of these causes. If you don’t want to run through everything, there is one ultimate fix you can try…

Unplug or turn off your speakers!

You won’t have to listen to a hiss when the speakers are off. And since you aren’t actively listening to music, there’s not a real need for your speakers to be powered on in the first place. Turning them off will eliminate this hiss, no matter what is causing it. 

If your speakers are powered by an amp, you should shut that off too. Basically, just kill the power to your audio system, and it won’t make unwanted noises when not in use. It’s as simple as that. 

Speaker Hissing When Music is Playing 

A final note to consider when dealing with hissing speakers is the fact that you might be dealing with a blown speaker. This is when there is damage to the speaker internally, typically a rip or tear in the material that holds the drivers in place. 

When you have a blown speaker, you will hear a hiss, buzz, or flap type of sound when music is playing. But you won’t hear this when music is not playing. That’s a good way to determine if you are dealing with one of the causes mentioned earlier or a blown speaker. 

If your speaker is blown, it’s broken and you’ll need to get a new one. You really can’t fix a blown speaker. 


Here are a few short answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to fixing a hissing sound from speakers when music is not playing. 

How do I fix my speakers from hissing? 

To fix your speakers from hissing, there are several different solutions. Unplugging them when not in use is a good first step. But you can also switch the speaker and/or power cables. Switching electrical outlets can also eliminate this hiss. 

Why are my speakers making a hissing sound? 

The most common reason your speakers make a hissing sound is because of unbalanced cables or electrical interference. You can try changing the cables to fix this or eliminate any sources of potential interference, like phones and computers. 

Why do my speakers buzz when nothing is playing? 

If you have built-in amplifiers in your speakers, this will cause them to buzz when nothing is playing. But the buzz can also be caused by electrical interference from other devices or faulty cables that are either broken or unbalanced. 

Are speakers supposed to hiss? 

A small amount of hiss is pretty normal for most speakers. This just indicates that there is power running to the speakers, and you won’t likely hear it when you play music. If the hiss is really loud or pronounced, it might be caused by another issue. 

Does a blown speaker sound like static? 

A blown speaker does sort of sound like static, but it will sound different than other types of hissing that can be caused by unbalanced cables or electrical interference. And you won’t hear the sound when music is not playing. 

Final Thoughts

There are multiple causes and fixes for speakers hissing when music is not playing. You can switch out the cables, try a new power outlet, or remove potential sources of electrical interference to deal with this issue. 

A simple solution to this problem is to turn off your speakers or unplug them when not in use. This will eliminate the buzz, and you won’t hear it when you’re not actively playing music. 

Have you ever had hissing speakers? How did you fix the issue? Let me know in the comments below. 

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