Speaker buzz

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by permagrin, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    I just shipped a GK 115LB cab to a guy. It's about 12 years old. He wrote back:

    "...One of the jacks gave me a problem first time I plugged into it and actually sounded like the speaker was trashed. Tried the other jack and no problem and was no problem when I went back to the other jack a second time.

    Noticeable buzz from the speaker which is primarily apparent with higher frequency tones especially at lower volumes but there's always some buzz coming from it whatever tone and volume. Is that normal for this cab? I've ran different basses, cords, preamps, and amps and it's a constant. It's not major and the tones are there regardless and is not distorting, just a buzz. In fact, it's even there (but to a lessor degree) with that cab volume off while playing through the other cab."

    And in a second message:

    "...buzz is a sympathetic buzz. I hooked up to the routine rig and I noticed the GK cab buzzed even though I was running through other cabs. Wierd though cuase it's not vibration in the cab, the buzz comes from the speaker."

    I had never noticed any buzzing come from the cabinet, but then the reason I was selling is because I haven't been using the cab for about a year, and somewhat sparingly for several years before that.

    Any ideas what the problem may be, or how we might figure out the problem, or how to remedy? TIA.

    And just re-reading my post here, I'm still trying to figure out what he meant by "sympathetic", that the speaker is vibrating/buzzing even when not hooked up?
  2. His emails really don't seem to make much sense at all.... or he is talking about two different problems...?

    Problem #1 - The first time he plugged it in it sounded really bad, but then he used the other input & it was fine. He then swapped back to the initial input & it too appeared to be fine.

    Diagnosis: Perhaps a loose connection/some dirt which had come loose in shipping.

    Solution: See if it ever reoccurs. If so, check for loose connections etc.

    Problem #2 - All the time there is a constant buzzing.. even when the cab is not plugged in...

    Diagnosis: Er... can you say 'tinnitus'.. :D . Well, he thinks it is a resonant vibration in the cab. That is, there is some component in the cab that, when hit by sound at a certain frequency, goes wild.

    Solution: I'd get him to check the cab in a different room.. perhaps with some impartial observer present. Somewhere in the murky world of psycho-acoustics they tell us that if someone gets annoyed by a certain sound they will be become 'sensitized' to it... and that will be all they can hear.

    I guess he could open the cab up & check for anything loose which may be vibrating.

    Hmmm... apart from that.. see what anyone else has to say. IMO a lot of the facts don't really make much sense. Maybe he could send you a recording of said 'buzz'.
  3. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Thanks Jemetch.

    Yeah, those are two different problems. #1 you're all over, and isn't what I'm concerned about. Heck, the jack may not have been in all the way or got inserted too far, and if there is a problem with the leads it's an easy fix. No, it's the buzz he refers to that bugs me, and he says is present at all frequencies. I left in #1 for completeness, in case it may give someone a clue to the buzz, if it could be somehow related.

    BTW, this guy is no newbie, seems like a solid guy, isn't asking for anything. I just hate thinking that something might have been wrong with the cab, and wanted to see if anyone may have any insight. I played it real quick before sending it out and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but in my little garage studio/shop stuff starts rattling and vibrating at low volumes.
  4. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Strange, but I noticed this "sympathetic" buzzing too recently on my PA speaker. I was playing my preamp through the PA. It sounded okay but I heard this buzz/distortiony sound...very slight, but it was there. The harder I played the harder it got, but not to tell me damage was occurring. Of course I stopped all that and investigated. I tried turning down the lows, mids, whatever, and still no change.

    I've always suspected something was blown or wrong with our PA speakers so I decided to test my bass sound on our studio monitors, something I know was flat and clean and no problems. I turned off the PA and proceeded to test out the sound through the studio monitors. I put my ear right up to the studio monitors and it was CLEAN. Then in the distance I could hear that slight buzz/distortiony sound! I was like, "HUH?!". I kept playing and walked over to the PA speaker and there it was with the same amount of buzz! I thought maybe there was still some strange signal still going through to them so I unplugged the speaker cable from it. It was still buzzing! I put my ear right to it and sure enough there was a buzz coming from the speaker itself everytime I played. It honestly sounds like the paper cone is feeling the bass and is just vibrating. Really strange.

    So yeah, I know what this guy is talking about. Not commenting anything about your situation as I know absolutely nothing about it, but just wanted to mention that I think I know what that guy is talking about when he mentioned that "sympathetic" buzzing.

    A more experienced or knowledgable speaker person I'm sure can say what is wrong with my PA speaker and possibly with yours. Though it's strange that you wouldn't have noticed it when you tested it out so I have no clue what is going on in your particular situation.

    Best of luck though...hope you both could amicably resolve things.

  5. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Thanks guys. Nothing to resolve, the guy is actually very pleased with the cab (I sold it very cheap, as is, due to age/cosmetics) but wanted to know what the deal was. I'd never experienced this kind of thing, but his speaker tech was aware of it, said it was not a big deal. Good luck with your PA speaker, T.
  6. Funkengrooven

    Funkengrooven Turn it down? You gotta be nuts!!

    A speaker is actually a microphone in reverse.
    The speaker can pick up vibrations going on in the air around it and vibrate, it IS an acoustical device. It will also translate those vibrations into voltage at the speaker terminals.
    The test of this is to lay your bass cabinet in front of the bass drum and have the drummer play and measure the voltage out at the speaker cable. Connect the cable to the speaker cabinet but not the amp. A lot of studio guys use a 12 inch speaker for a kick drum mic...you could also plug the cabinet into a mic input on your PA head.......Keep the volume low the speaker has way more gain than a mic.