Are you hearing an overly annoying sound coming from your speaker? Well don’t jump to conclusions just yet! It may not be what you think. (SEE TROUBLE SHOOTING STEPS BELOW). So how do you know what’s causing this annoying sound? Is your speaker broken? Maybe not. It may have the case of the 60 cycle hum. When troubleshooting DJ equipment, it’s like most troubleshooting, you want to isolate the issue. In this short video, you’ll watch Pat and I as we take my equipment apart piece by piece to figure out the problem.
What did we learn? 1. The Buzz or aka “Hum” is called the 60 cycle hum. 2. It wasn’t my speaker at all. Most likely it was the venue.
1. Remember to turn your AMP OFF before switching out any equipment. Then, turn it back on again each time.
2. Switch out every piece of equipment.
I’ve found microphones and bad wires are most commonly the issue. Switch these out first:
- Mic cords (XLR, 1/4 inch, etc). (Actually just try moving the mic cords away from any other piece of equipment. Sometimes its just the wires touching that are causing the problem).
- Mic receivers (The mic box, power plug, or just remove the mics all together).
- Amp cords (usually your XLRs and power plugs).
- Try plugging into another outlet (see why below).
- Speaker cords (remove one at a time. It may be just one cord).
- Any computer cords (RCA, USB, Chargers, etc)
- Any cords, wires, or power plugs hooked into your controller.
- Replace your extension cord, or surge protector.
Still hearing the noise?
- Switch out your actual amp.
- Switch out your speakers.
- Switch out your controller. If you brought a back up self powered (which is what I normally do) plug your computer right into your self powered (active speaker) and see if the noise is still there.
- Unplug any lights, phones, or anything else plugged into the same line as your equip.
Still hearing the noise?
It may be the venue’s electrical line causing the problem.
So how do you handle this if it happens to you? (This has actually happened to me numerous times in the past).
Well first, understanding why this could happen will help you to deal:
1. In some older, historic buildings you’ll find the electricity is not up to date. They are historic for a reason. They tend to keep things the way they are.
2. Something else could be plugged into the same line like a generator, lights, or soda machine. (I once had a soda machine from the first floor, plugged into the same line as me on the second floor. It didn’t cause the buzz or hum, but it did cause my music to keep skipping in and out. I thought something was wrong with my equipment. Luckily, I started to hear some machine going on and off the same time my music was skipping. It was the soda machine. I guess the older building’s electric couldn’t handle powering both my equip and the soda machine at the same time. I had to run another extension cord to the only other line in the building (Don’t forget to always carry extra extension cords with you).
Ok, so now what are your options?
1. Before you go blaming the venue, try every outlet you can reach. Most of the time, half the outlets run on another line. Find another line yourself. This is the ideal situation! No need to even mention anything to the venue. After all, you don’t want to get them upset if you don’t have to. You want to keep working there.
2. If you can’t find another line, then ask if their is a sound person, or maintenance guy/gal around. Ask them, do they know if there’s another line. Or, ask them if they know if something else is pulling electricity from the line. If so, can you plug in somewhere else.
3. Worst case scenario, you approach the event manager and ask them if this has happened to anyone else. Why is this the last option? You don’t want to blame someone else, because your equipment isn’t working properly. Even if you’re pretty certain it’s not your equipment. To most people if the sound is coming from your equipment, it’s you! So handle the situation delicately. Explain you’ve tried every possible situation to troubleshoot your equipment. You think it may be something interfering in the electrical line. Ask them if this has happened before and what was done to correct it. Most likely it has. Ask them what the DJ, or entertainment did to fix the issue. For me, there was a time it came down to them simply turning off their dimmers!
What’s the most important part of troubleshooting? Make sure you have BACKUP equipment to use to troubleshoot. In this video, we are at Pat’s Music Center in Philadelphia, PA. However, the buzzing or hum, took place at the venue where I was holding an event. I had to do these same steps at the venue. This video is a shortened version of our troubleshooting. Keep in mind, it can take up to 45 minutes to determine what’s wrong. Another important part? Arrive early to your event! This way, you have time to troubleshoot should a situation arise.
Thanks for watching! If you liked our video today please don’t forget to Subscribe! Let me know if there are any other topics you’d like for me to discuss. Hope to find you back here every Tuesday when I launch a new video. Have a great week! DeeJay Shelly.
Are you looking to purchase DJ equipment? Check out Pat’s! I’ve been going there ever since I became a DJ. Why? Their knowledge and customer service is the best! You can visit their website: Pat’s Music Center.