How to Resolve Ground Loop Issues (Hum or Buzzing Noises) 

 

This can be caused by devices that introduce an electric potential to the ground connection. This includes: 

  • Peripheral devices connected to your computer (monitors) 

  • A low-quality power supply unit. 

  • Using multiple power outlets. 

  • Electrical devices nearby such as fridges, electrical heaters, elevators, fans, dimmer switches, etc. 

 

These troubleshooting steps below can narrow down the cause of the issue. Here are some of the most common solutions: 


Disconnect your devices 

In order to find out where the ground loop comes from, disconnect all peripheries from your computer/laptop except the Zen Go. If the noise disappears – then one of the peripheries is the source of the grounding noise 

To check if the amplifier or active monitors create the ground loop, listen to your audio signal from the headphones output of the Zen Go while the amplifier/active monitors are disconnected 

If you find the device that introduces the ground loop, a ground lift of the audio connection may solve the issue. Never lift the ground of the power connection! 

Power Supply 

A low-quality power supply unit can lead to ground loop noise, particularly on laptops. Disconnect your computer from your power supply so that it runs on battery power and verify if this resolves the issue. 

Shared Power Outlet 

Always connect your devices to the same power outlet (e.g. with a multi-outlet power strip). Note that even if the power supply of your laptop computer is not connected, your setup may still be vulnerable to ground noise from an external device with its own power supply. 

All devices that are physically connected to each other should share the same power outlet. You may also have to separate polarized plugs (two-prong) from grounded plugs (three prong), by connecting them to separate circuits. 

Check direction of power connectors 

It might be worth trying to flip power cable connectors in their power outlet slotsso that the right pin is connected to the left input instead, and vice versa. Connecting power cable pins of multiple devices on the same electrical grid correctly can sometimes help in alleviating grounding issues. If you have multiple power cables going to the same power outlet – try connecting them in the same direction – meaning the Hot and Cold pins on each power cable should be connected in the same way in each slot of the outlet. 

 

Nearby Electrical Devices 

Eliminate the possible sources by disconnecting nearby electrical devices one by one in order to identify which one is causing the problem. 

If it is still not possible to identify the cause of the hum or buzz, we recommend testing the device at a different location (e.g. at another house or studio) to see if the issue still exists. 

Balanced Cables 

If possible, use balanced audio cables to connect the Zen Go to your speakers. In some rare cases using TS cables instead of TRS breaks the ground loop and helps solving the issue.