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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 9244
Experience:  Retired electrical contractor, 51 years experience.
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I came across this site whilst searching cause of a high-p

Customer Question

I came across this site whilst searching for the cause of a high-pitched tone in the house. It comes from various power sockets and can be heard particularly loudly in anything with speakers. I work as a composer and the noise is just so frustrating!!
Any advice would be most appreciated.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Phil replied 2 years ago.
Regarding the high pitched tone in the house, it sounds like a smoke detector going bad or with a failing battery. if that is not it, turn off one circuit at the house breaker panel at a time until the sound stops... the appliance lighting balast or etc causing the noise will stop when you unplug each device on that circuit... and in the case of lights, turn that light switch off. Then replace or repair that appliance.
The high pitched noise is quite unlikely to be coming from the house wiring itself...but it could be. 0.5% chance perhaps, in that case the electric utility company can arrive to test it but as a last resort... it is most likely a lighting ballast or appliance creating noise... including smoke detectors.
If that fails to work well enough for the speaker issues plug your speakers and computer into the this device, chances are nearly 100% that it will eliminate the *speaker difficulties.... but not the house noise.
I am off to the dentist shortly I will respond when I return.
We are on the honor system here. Please remember to rate my service before you leave today. If you need anything else, just let me know. You can continue asking follow-up questions at no additional charge.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Phil,Thanks for this. The tone is very quiet and can be heard when listening very close to plugs that are connected to the mains - it is in all rooms, not just one system. When working in my recording studio, the sound comes through the speakers when they are switched on. It appears to be a similar frequency to the other sockets, which leads me to believe the problem is connected in some way. I'm certain it's not a lighting ballast or smoke detector.It's late here, so I should think I'll get your reply in the morning. I'll have a look at the link in the meantime, too. Good luck at the dentist!Many thanks,Alex
Expert:  Phil replied 2 years ago.
Hello again, it might be transformer humm but that is at 60 or 120 Hz... not very high frequency,
Look the link on the electronic filter over, let me know what you think, we can go from there.
a bad smoke detector will make a high pitched *electronically generated sound that can be heard more or less evenly throughout the house, so that it could appear to be coming from the receptacles.
That is a link you might find interesting.
It will be a good idea to try pulling the batteries out of the smoke detectors, that has a70 or 80% chance of being the problem... we should eliminate it as prospect by that test at least.
Very often in this business things are not what they seem.
I will see you tomorrow.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi again, Phil.Thanks for your reply. I have eliminated the smoke detectors, although must admit I was already sure it wasn't them (best to check though). To my ear, the tone is closer to 2kHz, rather than the much lower sub frequency, which is unusual. When in the studio, it comes directly from the monitors themselves, too. This is my biggest issue, as a composer. The tone is more or less constant, but occasionally flutters for a moment. I have tried in multiple sockets in the house and the tone remains, however when I tried them in another location, the tone wasn't present, which means it's definitely not an issue with the speakers themselves.I have had a look at the power conditioner you recommended. Unfortunately the connections are all American, rather than UK plugs, so this wouldn't be great for me. Furman appear to be a reputable brand here in the UK: you think this would eliminate the tone?Many thanks,Alex
Expert:  Phil replied 2 years ago.
Hello. I looked at the Furman. For the lower powered studio speakers you will not likely not need that 16 amp capacity. the #12 awg wire size indicates thats line power amps, not what you will likely need on your set up.
If you are near London there should be a dealer who would be happy to let you try one out, or even one half that size for less money... they should also have a demo unit.
Let me know what you think, we can go from there.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Phil,I am in London, so followed your advice and bought a power conditioner (I'm able to return it, so effectively the same thing as borrowing a demo). The noise is still there though, unfortunately, so I guess it's back to square one. Any other ideas?Thanks,Alex
Expert:  Phil replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for staying in touch Alex.

Your test demonstrates the noise is most likely not generated by any power line anomalies.

Next step would be to have someone else shut off every breaker in the house breaker panel, one at a time, while you are listening for the noise both from the speakers and from the receptacles or wherever else you choose... for 30 seconds or a minute, if the noise continues, turn off the next breaker, and listen for 30 seconds or a minute, until at last when you turn off one of the breakers the noise stops.

If that gets no results, it is possible the noise might be originating from a neighbors house... go outside and walk around and see if you can pick it up.

We can go from there.