Why Is My Condenser Mic Buzzing?

Are you hearing a buzz or noise in your condenser microphone? Microphones are a key component to the recording process. It’s vital that you capture a clean signal from the beginning of your recording chain to the end. You may be wondering, why is my condenser mic buzzing? Let’s find you some answers.

Why Is My Condenser Mic Buzzing?

There are several reasons why your condenser mic or any microphone could be buzzing. You could be experiencing problems in the following areas: Electrical interference, Background Noise, Faulty Cable or Connectors, Damaged Microphone, Improper Gain Settings, USB Port, Loose Connections, Ground Loop, Wireless Microphone Interference, Studio Monitors or Headphones, or Dirty Power. These are all reasons you may be experiencing a buzz or noise coming from your microphone. Let’s dive in deeper and see if we can find the source.

Electrical Interference May Cause Buzzing In Your Condenser Microphone.

You may be wondering what electrical interference is. Let’s take a look.

Electrical interference is a broad term and can be caused by many different things like: TV’s, microwave ovens, ceiling fans, lights, bluetooth, wireless networks, cell phones, electrical chords, electrical outlets, and the list goes on and on.

Basically anything that is powered by electricity or charged by electricity and can transmit signal can cause electrical interference.

How To Isolate and Eliminate Electrical Interference.

Electrical Interference

If you are hearing a buzzing or humming noise in your condenser microphone or any microphone it may be caused by electrical interference.

Try moving your condenser microphone around in the room you are using the microphone in and see if the buzzing, or humming sound goes away.

If you notice the buzzing or humming sound gets quieter or goes away completely when you move the microphone around in your room you can try turning off different appliances or electrical gear until you find the piece of equipment causing the problem.

Good Tips:

  1. Try to keep electrical cables away from audio cables.
  2. Always use good shielded audio cables.
  3. Cell phones are big offenders.
  4. Make sure all of your equipment is grounded.
Video Credit: Shawn Devine

Your Condenser Mic Will Pick Up Background Noise In Your Room.

Condenser microphones will pick up background noises going on in the room they are placed in.

This could be caused by: heating and cooling systems running, ceiling fans moving air in the room, electrical interference, plumbing pipes moving water in the floor and walls, or anything going on outside.

You may not have noticed these noises before because you have become accustomed to hearing them.

It is important to make sure you have a quite room to record in.

Faulty Cables And Connectors

Faulty cables and damaged connectors are going to be the number one offenders causing buzzing and hum noise in your condenser microphone.

The good news is this is an easy fix.

Damaged XLR Cable

Try using a different XLR cable with your condenser microphone and see if this stops the buzzing or humming noise.

Audio cables take a lot of abuse and get damaged over time. Especially, if you are using the same cables to do your live gigs with.

The audio cable that gets wound tight, stepped on, and sharp 90 degree bends on the cable connectors gets damaged over time.

Tech savvy folks will get out the soldering iron and repair their broken cable. This is probably ok for live gigs.

In a recording situation, you want the best results possible. It’s best to use a good cable that you know is wired correct and shielded properly.

XLR Connectors Reduce Buzz And Hum.

Condenser Microphones require an XLR connection with 48v phantom power to work properly.

We could, “What If” this statement all day! The truth is, if you are serious about making good recordings you need a good microphone ,(Condenser, Dynamic, or Ribbon), with a good shielded XLR cable.

XLR connectors are balanced and deliver phantom power to your condenser microphone.

If you are using a dynamic microphone I highly recommend using an XLR connection as well.

TRS connectors are balanced, but will not deliver phantom power to your condenser microphone.

Damaged Microphone

Condenser microphones can be fragile, especially if you drop them. A damaged condenser mic will make some tell tale sounds if there is internal damage.

You may hear a crackling and buzzing sound if there is internal damage with your condenser microphone.

Damaged Condenser Microphone

Your condenser microphone may seem to work normal but then fade out to silence and then slowly fade back in. Your condenser microphone may just go silent and not work at all.

These are some typical signs that your condenser microphone may be in need of repair. Be sure and check with the manufacture for repair and warranty options.

I do not recommend trying to open your condenser mic and do your own repairs. You may end up doing more damage than good.

Most dynamic microphone are a lot more durable than a condenser microphone.

A damaged dynamic microphone may not work at all, it may have a crackling sound, or just a loud hum.

Dynamic microphones should also be repaired by a professional.

Check Your Gain Settings.

Check The Gain Settings On Your Audio Interface.

It could be that your gain or volume settings on your audio interface are turned up too loud and are clipping. This clipping will sound like a clicking, popping and static sound. Be sure and check your gain settings on your audio interface.

Make sure your audio interface is well grounded. If your audio interface is not properly grounded it will make a buzzing or humming sound.

Check The Gain Settings Inside Your DAW Software.

Inside your DAW software you will also have gain settings on each individual channel. Be sure and check the gain or volume setting on the channel you are trying to record to.

If you have plug-ins active on your DAW software, make sure the plug-in levels are set properly. You may want to try listening to the signal with and without the plug-in to see if this is your problem.

Make sure your computer is well grounded.

Daw Software Gain Settings

Are You Using A USB Condenser Microphone?

Are you using a USB condenser microphone? If you are using a USB condenser microphone it will be designed to run on a low voltage around 5 volts. The typical USB port with power will put out 5v-8volts.

If your USB Condenser microphone is making a buzzing or hum sound, check and make sure the USB connection is tight and not loose with a lot of play and wiggle.

Try plugging your USB condenser microphone into a different USB port to see if this makes a difference.

USB Condenser Microphone

Good Tip: A USB condenser microphone may not be designed to operate properly with true phantom power at 48volts. This could cause some damage to a USB condenser microphone and make unwanted noise. It will depend on the USB condenser microphone specs.

Most all condenser microphones are built to operate with 48v phantom power. If you are trying to operate a regular condenser microphone with a USB connection, the condenser microphone will be under powered. This will give you undesirable results.

In short, It’s ok to plug a USB condenser microphone, (built to operate with very low voltage), into a USB connection. It’s not ok to try and power a regular condenser microphone with a USB connection.

A regular condenser microphone will be underpowered with a USB connection and sound less than desirable.

Make sure your computer is grounded.

A Loose Connection Can Cause Mic Buzzing.

A tight, well fit connection will often times prevent buzzing sounds. With most connections, (XLR, TRS, 1/4″), the ground happens with the actual connector.

It is very possible that your buzzing sound is being caused by a bad connection. Take a minute and check to make sure all of your connections are plugged in all the way and there is no excessive play in the connection.

If you wiggle a connection, or put pressure on a cable connection and the buzzing sound stops, this indicates that you have a poor connection.

Check your cables and cable connectors to make sure they are in good shape. If you have preformed repairs on your cables, try using a different cable and see if the buzzing sound goes away.

If you repair a cable or connector wrong, you will get a buzzing or hum sound. You may also get no sound.

A Ground Loop Will Create A Buzzing Sound.

I certainly am not qualified to explain to you what a ground loop is.. I hope this is not your problem.

I’m pretty sure a ground loop is the cause of missing socks in your clothes dryer. Let me explain..

Because your TV is plugged into the same electrical outlet as your toaster, and your cable for cable TV is connected to your Television set.. Every time you use your toaster one of the socks in your dryer is teleported into your ground loop.

Yep.. I’m pretty sure that’s correct. Something like that!

Ground Loop Wiring Mess

Anyways.. Always make sure all of your equipment is grounded and you should be fine.

If you have 15 pieces of gear rigged and plugged into a 6 way power strip then you may have a ground loop and probably a fire hazard.

Spend a little money and get some good power strips, use quality extension chords, and do not plug everything into the same electrical outlet.

Plug your power strips into different outlets that are on different circuits and spread things out a little. This should help improve that buzzing sound.

Try to keep your audio cables separate from your electrical cables as much as possible.

If you are geek smart and want to learn more about ground loops, you can check out what Wikipedia has to say here. Be sure and come back because there is more to learn here.

Studio Monitors Or Headphones May Be The Source Of The Buzzing.

Make sure your powered, (Active), studio monitors are properly grounded.

If you have passive studio monitors and are using an amplifier to power your studio monitors, make sure your power amplifier is grounded. Also, make sure you are using good shielded speaker cable to run to your studio monitors from your amplifier.

Bad Speaker Wire And Speaker

If you have a good clean sound through your studio monitors and not through your headphones, you probably have a bad connection with your headphones or a faulty headphone cable.

If you have a good clean sound through your headphones and not your studio monitors, you probably have a bad connection with one of your speakers or need to properly ground your studio monitors.

Good Tip: I use to own a pair of passive studio monitors, (meaning I had a power amp that powered my studio monitors). I had some trouble with electrical interference, hum, and buzz on occasion.

I switched to a nice set of Yamaha HS8 active studio monitors with TRS and XLR connections. I spent extra money on Mogami Gold XLR cables with nice shielding. I have zero problems now.

I think good powered studio monitors are best because there are fewer components and connections in the signal chain. Also, it is difficult to connect and shield traditional speaker wire at the actual connection point. An XLR or TRS connection into your studio monitors will serve you well.

Wireless Microphones Are More Susceptible To Interference And Buzzing.

Some of you may be using a wireless microphone to record with.

There is nothing wrong with this unless you are getting interference into your signal chain. This could be what is causing the buzz or static you are hearing.

If you are using a good quality wireless microphone and are having noise issues and buzzing, try connecting a condenser mic or dynamic microphone to your signal chain. If the noise and buzzing goes away then you know that your wireless microphone is the problem.

There may be nothing wrong with your wireless microphone, it just may be being affected by some sort of electrical, or radio frequency interference.

Dirty Power Coming Into Your Home Recording Studio

Depending on where you live, it could be that the electricity coming into your home studio is not so great.

Dirty power is: Abnormalities in the power quality that is being delivered to your home studio. Things like low power factor, voltage variations, frequency variations and surges will affect all of your studio gear.

Furman 15A Power Conditioner with Lights, Volt_Ammeter _

Your best line of defense is a power conditioner.

If you are investing money in your home studio, one of the best things you should consider getting is a power conditioner. Furman makes some great quality power conditioners to help protect your gear and keep the buzz and crackle to a minimum.

You’ve probably heard the term, “Snap, Crackle, Pop”. Well it’s not just for Rice Krispies.

Get yourself a power conditioner so your gear won’t snap, crackle, pop, and turn crispy.

What Others Are Saying.

Direct QuoteSource
“If there’s a buzzing noise it is usually a loose connection or a faulty cable. If you’ve tried replacing the cable, but are still experiencing an unusual noise, it could be a faulty microphone that has been damaged internally. Look up the manufacturer’s warranty and see if you can get a replacement or get it fixed.”https://www.tonormic.com/pages/how-to-stop-your-condenser-microphone-from-buzzing-background-noise#:~:text=If%20there’s%20a%20buzzing%20noise,replacement%20or%20get%20it%20fixed.
“All microphones have hissing and buzzing noises, but sometimes we might not even notice it until we turn on the microphone.”https://musicianshq.com/how-to-fix-a-buzzing-condenser-mic/
“In my experience, the most common cause is a loose set screw that’s supposed to be grounding the body of the mic, of a cable, etc. and/or XLR cables that stupidly leave the metal case floating when you hook two of them together….”https://homerecording.com/bbs/threads/how-to-fix-a-buzzing-condenser-mic.287790/
“The only thing worse than a buzzing mosquito is a buzzing microphone. The humming, hissing, and buzzing sound isn’t just annoying, it can ruin your recording.”https://producerhive.com/recording-tips/why-is-my-microphone-buzzing/
“There could be many reasons why your microphone is producing unwanted noise. It could be room background noise, an electrical problem or a problem with your cables. Try checking all your cables are firmly in place or swapping them with another cable to see if the problem still continues.”https://musicstudioinsights.com/stop-your-microphone-from-buzzing
“Personally, I don’t think separate phantom power supplies make a lot of sense for computer recording these days. External sound cards of some quality will readily supply phantom power and you don’t have to meddle with batteries or ground-loop-susceptible additional power supplies.”https://sound.stackexchange.com/questions/38867/buzzing-noise-with-condenser-microphone-phantom-advice
“Generally speaking there are three types of microphones, dynamic, condenser, and ribbon; all of which have something called a diaphragm. Diaphragms are like eardrums, they move back and forth when pushed by changes in air pressure (also known as sound).”https://www.quora.com/Why-is-my-condenser-microphone-only-making-buzzing-noise-but-not-catching-detecting-my-voice-BM800-with-phantom-power-48v
“if it’s a condenser mic you will have no sound with phantom off. if it buzzes when phantom is on you may have a bad mic cable.”https://www.reddit.com/r/audioengineering/comments/766py2/phantom_power_causes_buzzing_in_my_condenser_mic/
“The likely source of the problem is a hum field in your studio caused by the AC power lines.”https://service.shure.com/s/article/microphone-hum-problem?language=en_US

Final Thoughts

Today we talked about some of the most likely reasons your condenser microphone or dynamic microphone may be making a buzzing or hum noise.

Most of the time it is an easy fix. The most common issues are bad cables, poor connections, and electrical interference. Get yourself some good shielded cables and see if this fixes your issue.

If not, try some of the other things we talked about today.

A good audio interface with phantom power is a great way to get your microphones and instruments connected to your computer for recording. If you want to learn more about audio interfaces be sure and check out my article: The Best Audio Interface For A Home Studio.

If you enjoy writing, recording, and producing music, this is a good place to learn. Take some time to take a look around and check out my website.

Learn all you can about the things you are interested in and hone your skills.

I wish you all the best! Feel free to leave your questions and comments below.

Mitch@HomeRecordingStudioSetup.com

5 thoughts on “Why Is My Condenser Mic Buzzing?”

  1. I have attended shows and functions and see how sometimes mics develop issues and becomes a problem for the sound engineers. Such articles like the one you just posted giving tips on how to go about fixing a buzzing condenser mic is a welcome approach to educating people. Thanks for this.

    Reply
  2. These tips are very helpful. I recently set up my home recording studio and have encountered buzzing on a few occasions. The first time it was due to interference coming from the next room. Another time it was a faulty cable. At first I was a bit overwhelmed trying to get everything working well but I am learning to troubleshoot. Thank you for these tips.

    Reply
    • I’m glad this article was helpful to you JJ.  I know sometimes it’s hard to track down where a buzzing or hum may be coming from.  

      Thanks for taking the time to read and leave some comments.  Let me know if you need anything.

      Reply
  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. While it wasn’t a condenser mic, one of my bands had a serious problem with buzzing at a recent show due to a dirty power issue. Ugh, it was so frustrating to have everything set up the way that it normally works well, only to find that gear is buzzing due to the power source! It didn’t seem like there was much we could do about the issue at the time, but since we have future gigs at the same place, we bought an additional piece of gear to help mitigate the problem. I’m not the “sound guy” in the bands, so I can get lost in technical details, but I think that we got a power conditioner to take with us on the road… fortunately we don’t have the same issues at home.

    I’m going to keep this article bookmarked in case our solution doesn’t solve our issue at the venue. Thanks for all the help!

    Reply
    • The dreaded buzzing.  It can be hard to track down sometimes and a dirty power source makes things more difficult.  Really the only thing you can do is get a power conditioner to help stabilize the power.

      I’m glad my article was helpful to you.  Would love to hear some of your music!  

      Reply

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