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Ledgem 2012-07-08 10:25

Picking up unwanted radio on computer speakers
Greetings everyone,

The problem (which isn't terribly uncommon, based on what I've gathered through Google) is that my computer speakers seem to be picking up a radio signal. I only rarely had this problem in a previous apartment, but after moving, now it's constant.

Based on what I've read, there could be a number of causes. The speakers play the broadcast as long as they are powered on, and regardless of whether they are connected to the computer; thus the computer's casing is not the source.

I've read that the power cables may also be a source. The speakers (a 2.1 sound setup (subwoofer and two satellites)) are connected to a surge protector, which is connected to a power outlet build into a metallic casing for a heating/cooling unit. While this seems like a possible source, if I pick up my right (control) satellite and massively move it away, the radio grows softer. It seems like it should be a shielding issue in that case.

I'm not going to change my furniture arrangement over this, but I wanted to get some advice on it. Are there any cheap solutions that I can take that might help? If the only choice aside from repositioning would be a new set of speakers, how can I be sure that they're properly shielded? Many speakers claim to be shielded for the speaker unit itself, but then the manufacturer cheaps out on shielding the wiring, which still makes it vulnerable to picking up radio signals...

sa547 2012-07-08 22:41

I had this kind of thing a few times with some cheap speakers, so I think it has to do with RF interference and shielding. What brand speakers you were using there?

Ledgem 2012-07-09 07:25

Harman Kardon. It's one of their cheaper units, though; I think it originally sold in the $20 to $40 price range. I wouldn't be surprised if it's something due to being a cheaper unit, as well, but people with some fairly expensive speaker systems have reported interference issues as well.

Since it seems like price alone isn't a good way to determine whether the shielding is proper or not, I was wondering if there's something to check for to ensure proper shielding. Perhaps the best way to do it is to enter the speaker model number into Google along with other terms for interference, and then see if anyone has remarked on it.

Vexx 2012-07-15 20:09

This is entirely a shielding issue, most likely in the speaker wires. Normally, I wouldn't suspect a Harmon Kardon speaker as I'd expect them to have circuitry RF shielding but at that price... errrr, maybe. Any length of wire resonates to frequencies that are a multiple of its length if unshielded.

First thing to try is shielded cabling. It isn't likely the power cables unless the speaker circuitry isn't doing a great job of isolating the reference DC voltage.

Back when aluminum foil was cheap, I'd just say wrap the wires with it - but shielded wiring is pretty cheap now.

I used to have a vinyl record component that I could move the wires around and pick up radio til I wrapped them.

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