What is that TV Buzzing Noise?
April 14, 2005 5:19 PM   Subscribe

My TV does this annoying buzzing sort of humming noise (vibrating?) a lot and I want it to stop. Should I take my TV in to get fixed? If so, how much would that cost? Can I fix it myself? Is it easier to just buy a new TV or to ignore it? It especially seems to do it when I have the volume turned down low (or else I just don't notice it when it's up high).
posted by toftk to Technology (16 answers total)
What sort of buzzing? It could be all sorts of things. Is it coming from the speaker, or the screen, or something inside? Does it still happen when you play a DVD or video? When it's on standby?
posted by cillit bang at 5:38 PM on April 14, 2005

Do NOT attempt to open up your TV unless you really know what you are doing. TVs can hold a charge for hours and if you touch the wrong thing you could get killed.
posted by orange swan at 6:16 PM on April 14, 2005

Is your TV near something else electrical that you can try moving away?

Have you tried whacking it?
posted by puddinghead at 6:20 PM on April 14, 2005

If you've got one of those little neighborhood appliance repair shops nearby, it can't hurt to ask them about it. It might be really simple, and you might find an honest repairman who'll fix it for a few bucks.

As a general rule, though, modern TV sets are rarely worth fixing--the price of parts and labor quickly runs past the replacement cost for the whole set. (There's a theory that the manufacturers keep parts costs high, just for that reason, but I don't know whether that's really true.)
posted by LairBob at 6:28 PM on April 14, 2005

If it's a high-pitched squeal, it could just be you hearing the electronic scan (525 lines x 30 frames = 15750 Hz). It's such a high pitch though that not everyone can hear it, though it's considered within the standard range of human hearing.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:29 PM on April 14, 2005

If that's 60 cycle hum, it could be the power supply fixing to blow. If it's really more of a buzz, it could be something shorted. In either case, it may have the potential to get ugly fast.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:33 PM on April 14, 2005

What you've described sounds exactly like the situation with my tv and it's been going on for over a year, even when I watch DVDs (it has ruined many a silent pause in movie dialogue). Recently, I noticed that a red light on the bottom panel for "stereo" comes on whenever that sound happens (anything like that for you?) and I tried various audio options on the tv menu, but no luck so far. The set is a bit old, though (10+ years).
posted by PY at 7:17 PM on April 14, 2005

I suspect you're just hearing the electronic scan buzz that rolypolyman is talking about. I've got a friend with good ears who is driven crazy by this. Like one of those dog whistles. If so, you're doomed to a life of buzzing.

(but you get the superpower of being able to tell when a tv is still on even though it's got a blank picture).
posted by Hildago at 7:22 PM on April 14, 2005

toftk, come and enlighten us!
posted by rolypolyman at 7:37 PM on April 14, 2005

"(but you get the superpower of being able to tell when a tv is still on even though it's got a blank picture)."

I had no idea there were people who didn't hear the squeal of a CRT. How can you miss something so loud? Some superpower.

In any case, another suggestion: If the noise is louder when the picture is brighter (such as all white), go to a TV/VCR repair place and tell them you think you need a new flyback transformer. I'd be surprised if it's much more than fifty bucks.

Also: If you have to ask the questions you asked, no, please don't try to repair your television without undertaking quite a bit more research (and possibly some guidance from someone with practical experience) into how to handle high voltage electronics.
posted by majick at 7:56 PM on April 14, 2005

Get used to the noise.

Our TV does that too; it kind of resonates and buzzes for certain frequencies of a voice or music. We got used to it. We've had that TV for 18 years and every once in a while I remember it buzzes and notice that it still does. The rest of the time, I just tune it out.

(It did annoy the shit out of me for a year or so.)
posted by Doohickie at 8:09 PM on April 14, 2005

I hear those damn buzzes too, very annoying. They used to bother me to the point I went and got tested. The doctor imformed me that I simply had 'hyper-acute' hearing and to learn to live with it.
posted by debralee at 6:54 AM on April 15, 2005

I second the flyback transformer. I don' t know about the cost, but I think I can explain it. A transformer is just a couple coils of wire. While this will change the voltage, it's also an electromagnet. As the current in your house cycles from + to - (at 60 cycles per second), the wires can move a bit. It's the wires tapping 60 times per second that cause this buzzing.

Now, let me preface this next part. I'm a geek. I take things apart to learn how they work and put them back together. TV's are nothing to screw around with. The capacitors in there can store a charge large enough to kill you for 12 hours or more. The large the screen, the longer the charge can hold.

If you were to leave the TV unplugged for 2 to 3 days (fat chance!) you could open it and locate the flyback transformer. It's the large spool of wire with a thick cable leading to the top of the cathode-ray tube and looks like it's attached with a suction cup. (It's not attached with one, it only looks like it.) If you were to drop a bunch of dope (a kind of glue used for models) or maybe superglue, onto the coils of wire, you can fix the buzzing. This must be left for another 2 to 3 days to let it thoroughly cure. These glues have volitile compononts to them that can explosivly burn. This said, it's probably a bargain to get this replaced for $50. You'll spend almost that much on the glue alone.
posted by kc0dxh at 7:06 AM on April 15, 2005

Depending upon how your TV is constructed, even after several days it could still contain lethal voltages, especially at the connection to the cathode ray tube; that is where the really high voltages are. Be careful!
posted by caddis at 7:26 AM on April 15, 2005

Wow, neat, I'm not the only one. I relized that other people didn't hear that buzz when I was in my early teens, but it isn't something you can generally ask people about. It's still wierd to me to think that other people don't hear CRTs.
posted by Leonard at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses. It is not high pitched. Definitely a loud low buzzing noise. I'm going to try the speaker thing because what PY mentioned about the Stereo light resonated with me. My TV switches itself from MONO to STEREO on its own and I wonder if that's the time it's doing the sound. It's intermittent and doesn't matter if it's video, DVD, or TV. Although, I feel like I hear it more often on DVD. Could this be because it is trying to deal with all the special sound effects built for movies as opposed to TV?

I won't try to fix it. Thanks for the warning (I like to take things apart sometimes). But I will try the speaker thing and then I'll just live with it. If I figure it out, I'll post here.
posted by toftk at 5:54 PM on April 22, 2005

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