Sound

Why Are My PC Speakers and Headphones Making Weird Noises?

If you’re using a desktop PC, you might have heard odd noises coming from your speakers or headphones at times. It may sound like a buzzing or whining when doing basic tasks, sometimes escalating with more intense use like games or streaming movies. To solve the problem, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing it.

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Where Speaker Noise Can Come From

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of explanations for unwanted sounds coming from your speakers. Luckily, the most common issues are fairly obvious. Broadly speaking, we can break them down into three categories: problems that originate from the physical speakers, the cable connection, and from the PC itself.

It’s easy enough to nail down which part of your speaker setup is at fault. To see if the speakers are the problem, simply plug them into an audio source other than your PC—like a phone or an MP3 player. Note that it’s perfectly normal to hear pops and buzzes as you disconnect the audio jack and plug it into something else, but if you continue to hear electronic interference even after plugging it in, you can rule out your PC as the problem. You can perform the same test in reverse, too: get another set of speakers or headphones and plug them into your PC. If you still hear the unwanted noises, your PC is likely to blame.

If the problems continue (and it’s possible to use another cable with your speakers or headphones), then try replacing the cable. If you hear clearer sound with no interference, then the cable was the likely culprit. Usually this means that either the connector on the end has some kind of physical defect causing a poor connection with the audio source, or the cable itself is poorly shielded. What you’re hearing is electromagnetic interference from your PC or other electrical devices in the room. The fix here is simple enough: just use a different cable, preferably one with a high-quality jack and better shielding.

If the speakers are the problem, it’s likely that they’re damaged. You might be able to isolate specifically which speaker is damaged by listening closely, especially if…

Chewing or breathing sounds make you seethe? Blame your brain

kid eating corn
kid eating corn

Some people find everyday sounds such as eating, drinking and breathing intensely annoying. People with this condition, called misophonia, have structural and functional differences in their brains, new data show.

For many people, the sounds of slurping coffee or crunching on an apple can be mildly annoying. But it can leave others seething. And their rage is very real, a new study finds. Certain sounds — especially eating, drinking and breathing — can boost activity in parts of the brain that deal with emotions. This can turn on a strong emotional reaction, leading to anger or anxiety.

For such people, the brain gives extra importance to certain sounds, says Sukhbinder Kumar. He’s a cognitive neuroscientist in England at Newcastle University’s medical school. What is not clear, he adds, is why only certain sounds trigger this reaction.

His team described its new findings February 2 in Current Biology.

This intense sensitivity to some sounds is called misophonia (Mees-oh-FOH-nee-uh). The term means “hatred of sound.” Researchers aren’t sure how common the condition is. One study of college students,…

Relax, Listening to 10 Rumbling Hours of an Arctic Ship

Sometimes we need a relaxing background sound. For some, it’s the Star Trek ship sound. For others, sleep-inducing podcasts are the way to go. For Netflix fans, there’s an oscillating fan.

Today, I am proud to present 10 hours of ambient sound, featuring a polar icebreaker in a storm. The sound is part live recording, part synthesized audio, and…