Static noise is one of the most frustrating and eternal issues users of wireless headphones have to endure. Whether your headphones are of high or low-end quality, static noise is almost always present in Bluetooth headphones—caused by network overload, Bluetooth connectivity issues, damaged speakers, outdated audio drivers or firmware, and more.
All these can contribute to a static noise issue that can irritate the nerves of even the most laid-back user. From mundane techniques, such as turning off unnecessary Bluetooth devices and charging your headphones, to more complicated tasks involving disabling sound effects and lowering wireless interference, the source of static noise can be hard to pinpoint.
Thankfully, you can get rid of the white noise sound you hear in your headphones. In this article, you’ll learn some tested tricks to pinpoint and fix wireless headphone’s static noise.
- What is static noise?
- Why wireless headphones make a static noise
- How to fix static noise in Bluetooth headphones
What is static noise?
Static noise is a common issue among Bluetooth headphones, due in large part to the following:
- Interference from electronic devices
- Electromagnetically-induced acoustic noise
However, the insistent and unrelenting static noise, which can be described as white noise or a sizzling effect, can be particularly pronounced when it comes to earbuds, given their small size since a greater degree of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) can be generated at closer ranges.
Why wireless headphones make a static noise
If your Bluetooth headphones make weird noises like buzzing, popping, sizzling sound, or constant harsh static, don’t fret. A little Bluetooth headphones’ static noise is normal (to a degree).
Wireless headphones produce static noises for several reasons, such as:
- Weak signal and wireless signal interference
- Obstructions, such as a smartphone case or a pocket;
- High-resolution audio which requires more data transmission than the module can handle;
- Bluetooth codec mismatch between the device and your headphones;
- High noise floor due to limited Bluetooth bandwidth and lack of 24-bit support.
A high noise-floor—which is higher amounts of static noise—can ensue from:
- Soundtracks recorded in 16-bit digital audio
- Poorly mixed audio
- Music recorded in a noisy studio or with a low-end microphone
- Low-quality audio source
Weak signal and wireless interference
The link between the two Bluetooth devices is not physical like that of wired headphones that connect via a headphone jack, and is prone to signal degradation and constant hissing/static noise due to various reasons, such as:
- Radio signals and devices broadcasting/sending/receiving wireless signals that your headset has to compete with, including routers, nearby Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices, and other wireless headphones.
- Electromagnetic fields caused by radio towers, power lines, microwave ovens, mobile cell phones, fluorescent lighting and other items that generate radiation in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, interfering with the wireless signal.
- Physical obstructions between the headset and the device: walls, doors, magnetic smartphone case, and water can interfere with the signal strength.
- Being too distant from the connected device, the distance or range between the device and the headset can also cause signal degradation since the wireless signal will travel further and naturally become weaker.
- Multiple Bluetooth devices connected to the same network or paired to the same smartphone your headphones use;
- Low battery life.
Besides static noise in headphones, Bluetooth interference with WI-Fi signals and wireless devices can lead to sound cuts and instances in which earbuds keep disconnecting. The more congested the 2.4 GHz band, the weaker the signal and the more audio and connectivity issues you’ll experience.
The bottom line: Activity on the 2.4 GHz band can cause serious signal disturbances and interferences. Therefore, the best solution to counter static noise in wireless headphones is by reducing interferences.
Bluetooth codec mismatch
Wireless headphones can produce static noise due to a codec mismatch between the connected device and the headset.
The Bluetooth technology version does not affect sound quality since it’s backward compatible, but the type of codec being used does—if the smartphone and headphones do not both support the same codecs, like AAC, aptX, LL, or LDAC, then the transmitted signal will be encoded with the lower-quality SBC codec, resulting in static noise and a decreased sound quality.
High noise floor
In case your Bluetooth signal is strong, the signal may still contain static noise due to a high noise floor. This is basically when the headphones’ signal-to-noise ratio is lower, denoting the noise in relation to the signal is much higher.
This is usually caused by low bitrates on sources like streaming services, poor audio mix, low-quality microphone recordings, etc. But also due to the inherent bandwidth limitations the Bluetooth technology poses.
How to fix static noise in Bluetooth headphones
We’ve determined the reasons why wireless headphones make static sounds, and now it’s time to fix them. To stop static sound in Bluetooth headphones, there are a few easy steps that you can follow:
- Reduce wireless signal interference
- Lower noise floor
- Charge your headphones
- Disable sound effects.
Reduce wireless signal interference
Overlooking the importance of optimizing one’s environment for better connectivity can spell a static-filled disaster.
To reduce wireless signal interference and improve signal stability, you must:
- Unpair unused Bluetooth devices.
- Block WiFi signals from other networks.
- Optimize the wireless signal between the two devices.
- Move other Bluetooth electronics to the 5.0 GHz band.
With these measures, you can improve the overall connectivity, reduce disruptive interference, and fix static noise in Bluetooth headphones.
Likewise, if your Bluetooth headphones make a weird noise, a buzzing when walking, it’s due to the electromagnetic radiation in the city, which interferes with the wireless connection. The ubiquitous threat of EMI radiation makes it impossible to get rid of static noise.
Move some devices to the 5 GHz band
Reducing interference and increasing network performance can also be achieved by connecting some devices to the less congested 5 GHz band of WiFi to ensure that devices in areas of stronger reception on 2.4 GHz don’t compete.
Other measures you can implement to reduce 2.4 GHz interference with Bluetooth:
- Separating channels for overlapping networks in the same area.
- Placing wireless devices further away from other electronic equipment.
- Re-alignment of antennas to reduce signal obstructions.
- Buy a router with beamforming Wi-Fi signals (these automatically adjust your broadcast signals according to the device’s position).
Disconnect unused Bluetooth devices
Even though you can connect countless Bluetooth devices to your smartphone, PC, or laptop, we recommend disconnecting all unused Bluetooth devices. Like this, you’ll clear Bluetooth memory and cache and reduce background noise, improve signal strength, and perhaps a good chance to stop your headphones from making static noise.
Turn off background apps
A great way to improve connectivity and reduce wireless signal interference is to reduce the power and number of running applications requiring Bluetooth. To do this, turn off background apps on your smartphone, PC, or laptop. You can improve and optimize the Bluetooth headset connection by allowing only essential apps to run.
Keep your Bluetooth headsets closer to the sound source
The signal between the headphones and the sound source has to be strong and stable. Ideally, the distance should be less than 30 or 50 feet. Therefore, you must keep your Bluetooth headset close to the sound source. This can increase signal strength and significantly reduce static noise.
Lower noise floor
Reducing the base-level static noise caused by high noise floor can be accomplished by modifying the default audio format to 24-bit—maximizing the dynamic range to a full 120dB from the 96 dB of 16-bit audio.
Many Bluetooth headsets and transmitters show compatibility with 24-bit audio transmission levels; however, their data transfer rate is limited and cannot increase the dynamic range, which is why you'll naturally hear a substantial amount of noise in the background.
Thus, another way to get rid of static noise in wireless headphones is to:
- Disable features that produce electrical noise
- Remove any noise source in your headphones
This includes active microphones, voice commands, speech-to-text features, active noise cancellation, and other features that require your headphones to perform background activities.
Charge your headphones
If you don’t charge your headphones or your earbuds’ battery is inadequately charged, they may produce static noises—and you may even hear one earbud louder than the other. To fix this issue, it’s important to ensure that your headphones or earbuds are always regularly charged—preferably overnight on a full charge.
Disable sound effects
If your Bluetooth headphones are plagued with static noise, disable any unnecessary sound effects or features, like surround sound, bass boost, etc., which could be causing such distortion. Sound effects naturally alter the original audio and hence, may likely to cause noise distortion, buzzing, and static sounds in your headphones.
On Windows 10:
- Press the
Windows key + Rto open the Run command
- Type mmsys.cpl and hit Enter to open Sound
- Go to the “Playback” tab.
- Right-click your headphones and select “Properties.”
- In the “Advanced” tab, deselect all audio enhancements to disable all sound effects.
- In the “Spatial sound” tab, switch “Spatial sound format” to Off
- Go to System Preferences.
- Click on Sound.
- Disable user interface sound effects by unticking the “Play user interface sound effects” option.
Why do I hear static in my headphones?
“Why do I hear static in my headphones?” is something that probably every first-time wireless headphone buyer wondered. Don’t worry! The static sound you hear likely means that the headphones aren’t receiving a strong enough signal.
However, other reasons why your headphones produce static sounds include damaged drivers, EMI, low battery life, corrupted audio drivers, and sound effects that alter the original signal.
What is noise floor?
The noise floor is the combined level of sound resulting from unintended noises. The weakest audible signal alters the original signal and forms a delicate background of static or grainy noise that can be best heard when no music is playing.
Do all wireless headphones have static noise?
Due to Bluetooth technology compression, the poor transmission of audio signals, and limited bandwidth, all wireless headphones are prone to static noise, grainy noise, and other forms of digital noise.
Unlike static noise in wired headphones, fixing static noise in wireless headphones is a matter of reducing the wireless interferences and improving the wireless signal between the transmitter and receiver device. As we learned, Bluetooth headphones are prone to constant static noise due to the nature of the compressed audio data that is sent over the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency and electronic interference.
Solutions to this problem include:
- Reducing RF interference in the environment.
- Moving closer to the source of the audio.
- Using different Bluetooth profiles such as aptX or SBC.
- Disabling sound effects that could alter the sound signal.
- Charging the headphones.
- Lowering noise floor by disabling unnecessary features that may generate EMI inside the earbuds/earphones
- Purchasing high-quality wireless headphones to reduce static noise.