I'm really interested in home studio recording and am super new to it. I got myself a RODE NT1 condenser microphone with a Steinberg UR 22 audio interface and just used my old Audio-Technica open back headphones.

When I plug in my interface to my MacBook Pro, I start picking up a weird buzzing noise (almost electrical) from my headphones. I played with the 2 input gains and found that as I increased it on either side, the noise grew louder. And this is even without anything plugged in.

I have checked to see if they are configured in my MacBook. Furthermore, when I actually do plug in my condenser microphone to the mic input, I hear a humming noise on top of the electrical buzzing noise from before that just grows louder as I increase the gain.

Mind you my laptop isn't connected to any electrical source, my microphone is on a stand with a shock mount and I haven't even opened my DAW. I have been playing around it for months now, trying to ignore the noise while I record but it even shows up in the audio recording in GarageBand.

  • Checklist: UR22 plugged in before Mac booted: phantom power off: headphones plugged into UR22: latest drivers
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 9:27
  • Thanks! That helped with the initial buzzing electronical noise. Its completely gone now. However the later humming from the microphone is still there. I initially thought it was because of the large living room i was working in to test the equipment with its echoes and windows so i put it in a sealed hard guitar case (those lined with protective fabric used for transporting the guitar; closest thing i got to a fully acoustic environment for the microphone) but the humming still persisted. However thanks for helping to get rid of the buzzing noise!
    – Kit
    Jan 22, 2015 at 11:39
  • You might want to check your serial number against this list - steinberg.net/nc/en/support/knowledgebase_new/show_details/… Free repair if affected.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 11:40
  • Thanks for the headsup. Unfortunately mine isn't on the list.
    – Kit
    Jan 22, 2015 at 13:10
  • Then all I can think is to try another mic in the UR22, & try the mic in another pre-amp - process of elimination.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


This happens mostly the devices are not grounded properly, or strangely enough sometimes some of the devices should be blocked from being grounded because they may create a ground loop with other devices, causing a very apparent electrical noise. There are also situations that you think that the device is grounded but beyond the wall it is broken. This noise can be a real trouble especially when amplified.

  • Try different grounding combinations. Make use of box tapes, allow one device, cut the other...etc.
  • Try your interface with a PC to see if the noise is there. Try similar grounding combinations with the PC too. There may be some conflict with Mac's grounding system or the audio interface may have a problem.
  • Try the setup in a different location and have your electrical system in the house checked, it may have a grounding problem.
  • I doubt either a laptop or USB DAC would be grounded. It's very rare the earth pin actually goes anywhere on a double-insulated device, often they're not even metal. [UK plug]
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 11:43
  • For example I have a Focusrite Scarlett USB audio device and in some locations I can't touch my laptop comfortably because of the electric accumulating on the cover. At those places I need to manually ground my laptop plug to a water pipe or something then the problem fixes. Disconnecting USB also removes the current but there is no more an audio device of course. Jan 22, 2015 at 16:07
  • Also, I always have to look for box tapes whenever I move my keyboard and laptop to a new place because of crappy electrical schemes. Jan 22, 2015 at 16:11
  • 1
    yeah, it's not actually 'ground loop' it's 'leakage' of induced current across the transformer coils - this gives a not too technical overview - epanorama.net/newepa/2012/04/02/…
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:40
  • @Tetsujin Thanks. I got used to solve this problem with trial and error everytime. Nice to see a good explanation on the subject specialized for audio. The suggestion to run on battery power while doing connections with is worthless. I always hated risking expensive equipment but generally no choice left on studio or stage. Jan 22, 2015 at 17:30

As Gurney pointed out,this is probably ground loop hum. If we're right about this (it's an extremely common problem), you can usually eliminate it by plugging all devices in the audio chain into the same power strip.

Ground loop hum happens when you have, say, the computer plugged into one outlet and the interface or mixer plugged into one across the room, an outlet hooked into a different ground/earth circuit.

If it turns out this is something else, Gurney's answer has some other things you can try. But if none of those work, try exchanging the unit for another one.

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