Q:
Every once in awhile, some unusual sounds come out of my computer speakers. The exact noise is kind of hard to explain, but it’s definitely a distortion. Do you have any idea what could be causing it? If so, please help. Thank you!

A:
I’m glad you asked! I’m sure we’ve all gone through this at one time or another. You know, you’re sitting at your computer just working away and all of the sudden, some strange noise comes out of your speakers. Perhaps it’s a crackling sound or a constant buzz or maybe it sounds like fingernails running across a chalkboard. Yikes! Either way, it’s some type of sound distortion and you need to take care of it right away. And that’s exactly what I’m going to help you do today. Let’s get started!

First up, let’s talk about that constant buzzing sound I mentioned earlier. If you’re hearing a buzz, it’s likely that your computer speakers are not plugged in all the way. External speakers hook into the back of your computer, so just check to make sure the connectors are all plugged in tightly. That should do the trick!

Now, if your speakers are making some sort of crackling noise, especially when you adjust the volume, you may need to clean the contact on your volume knob. Most computer stores carry contact cleaner just for that purpose. Once you have some, unplug your speakers from your computer and then spray the knob with the cleaner. You can then just wipe around the knob with a soft cloth. That should clean out any grime that may be sitting there and it should resolve the crackling noise.

Sound distortions can also be caused by a Y-splitter, if you use one. If you’re using a Y-splitter to split the audio between your speakers and another device, you may want to do away with that and just make one connection to your speakers. For example, if you’re using a Y-splitter between your computer speakers and a microphone headset, disconnect the headset, but leave your speakers as they are. That should help!

Now, if your speakers are internal, you can do some additional troubleshooting along with what we’ve already discussed. To do so, go to Start, Control Panel and click on the Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices link. From there, click on Sounds and Audio Devices and then hit the Hardware tab. From there, find your speaker set in the list and click on the Troubleshoot button. Choose the option of “The sound is distorted or scratchy” and click Next. That should get you going in the right direction!

One last note: If you think your sound problems are coming from your computer itself, you can rule that out by plugging your speakers into something else, such as a CD player. If you get the same kinds of sounds, you’ll know there’s a real problem with your speaker connection or the speakers themselves. On the other hand, if the speakers work properly, the problem probably lies within your computer and you’ll want to do some more troubleshooting for that.

I hope these suggestions help you to get perfect sound once again!

~ Erin