For a long time I have been bedeviled a ghost in our entertainment center. When I switch the amplifier to the phono setting and turn up the volume, there’s this low 60 cycles hum. It shouldn’t be this way. It sounds almost like the turntable isn’t grounded.
I suspected a ground loop, which can be a beast to fix. I cleaned off all the plugs and jacks on every piece of equipment, tried plugging the turntable into an outlet that goes to a separate circuit via extension cords, and dismantling the ground at the back of the amplifier at least a half dozen times. Then I would turn the amp back on phono and there was the hum.
Sunday morning I was doing stuff around the house. But I didn’t go into the living room. Carjo walked in and sat down in her loveseat. She asked me “what’s that buzzing sound?” I was in the kitchen and all I could hear was the sound of the fridge. So we argued for a while and finally I came into the living room. Oh, there was a substantial buzzing sound coming from that far wall where all the electronics slumbered. I raced over, trying to trace the noise. I looked behind the entertainment center and discovered that the surge protector was swimming in a lake of dog pee. AAAAAAUUUUUGH! The next half hour consisted of a lot of profanity, arguing, and cleaning, broken only by giving the dog a dirty look. Oh, he knew what he had done. Pippin is a sensitive little sonovabitch and he knows damn well when he’s fucked up. And this was a fuckup of legendary proportions, one that I will talk about around the fire during the Zombie Apocalypse. Grown men will weep and shake.
I unplugged the surge protector from the wall. That killed the loud buzzing sound. Then I unplugged everything else, threw the protector, got another one from the basement, mopped up pee, etc. I plugged everything back in an hour or so when all the plugs had dried. I checked the phono setting on the amp and it still hummed. Damn. I glared at the dog.
I went to my computer and did some searching of audiophile forums for a solution. Most had complex solution that I did not have the electronic know-how to attempt, not to mention the lack of a soldering gun. And then at the bottom of one thread someone mentioned that cable TV boxes were notorious for this sort of thing. Hmm. I have our cable box connected to the stereo even though we rarely listen to the TV through the stereo. Hmm. I ran to the living room and yanked the audio connections out of the back of the cable box. Switched the amplifier to phono and wow…no noise at all. Nothing. It was as quiet as if it were on the tape monitor. I got my vinyl copy of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and put it on side two. I cranked it up and sat back on the loveseat. Four English gentlemen began to play without the backing of a 60 cycle hum. It was beautiful.
Later that day, around the time of the evening news, Pippin hopped up on the couch with an expectant look. If a dog were capable of remorse, this was as close as he could get. I picked him up and gave him a squeeze, whispering profane reflections on his bladder control and hugged him again. Then I put him back on the couch beside me and he rolled on his back for a chest rub. He’ll be OK. At least until the next time he pees in the house.