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I have a basic studio setup which includes:

PC running cool edit pro condenser mic preamp AD converter studio monitors and headphones

That's it. I am having low level hiss, pop, and squeal in the monitors only (not in the headphones) when I turn everything on and play tracks from cool edit pro. When I have just the speakers on, I receive no noise. Does anyone know what this might be?

Many thanks for you help.

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2 Answers

If your system is plagued by hums and buzzes, there's a strong possibility they might be caused by ground loops. Use balanced connections where possible, and if you're getting hum problems when connecting an unbalanced source to a balanced destination, try making up a special cable, as shown below. Don't remove mains earths to try to solve ground loop hums: this can be very dangerous.

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There is a great explanation about all kinds of noises, including how to deal with them here.

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From the description, are your monitors powered? If so, then it sounds like it may be a problem with the grounding on the power for them differing from the grounding on your PC (or the fact that PCs often cause grounding differential because of their irregular power usage if your audio card has poor isolation (common on lower end audio hardware)).

The popping and squealing may also be the result of a bad cable going to the speakers. Particularly if it is "crackly" or "staticy". Basically the threads of the cable can brush against each other making sparks if they have frayed some within the cable. These sparks cause slight surges which result in pops.

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