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Ask Max: Troubleshooting Mac G4 Digital Audio Background Noise

Asked on 02/12/2009:

Hi Jacob,

If you could advise. I have background noise when I play music. I have my Mac G4 hooked up to a Bose speaker system. It is a buzzing sound not terribly loud, but annoying enough. The G4 has been with the Bose for a few years and started to buzz a couple of months ago. Any thoughts? Someone mentioned to me that the sound card might need to be replaced.

Kind regards,



Buzzing in digital audio speakers can be due to all sorts or radio interference. The most common source is from a cell phone or cordless phone. Even when you are not talking on them, these devices emit radio waves that will be audible on powered speakers. It is more likely that interference has recently developed in your neighborhood than the port failing on your G4. However you can check that simply by connecting the speakers to another device. An iPod or portable CD player would work well. The important part of the test is to leave the speakers where they are and just change input sources. If the speakers sound fine on another device, and it is just a computer issue, then you can get a USB audio adapter to replace the internal sound system on the Mac. Many people use the Griffin iMic for a simple solution:

If the static does end up occurring on both the Apple computer and portable audio device you used to test with, then you need to eliminate possible causes of that buzz. To troubleshoot, try plugging in the speakers to another power source, in another room. If the move fixes it then you should be able to move it back to its former positions, in small step until you locate the source of the buzz.

Hope that helps get you moving in the right direction,

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