How safe is it to ground lift my studio monitors connected to my computer?

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chocosugarbomb

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May 9, 2014
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Hi audio specialists,

I am currently experiencing a constant hum from my studio monitors which I eventually pinpointed to be a ground loop. All my electronics (studio monitors, computer, pc monitors) are connected to a single power strip which unfortunately, did not remove the hum from the ground loop.

The only way I was able to completely eliminate the hum was by using two "cheater plugs" on both my studio monitor power cables to perform a ground lift. I have read contradictory posts on the internet where some people say it is very dangerous to do this, as it can lead to electrocution, and others saying that it is safe because the studio monitors are connected to the computer which still has a ground on it. Currently, my studio monitors are connected like so:

Computer (no cheater plug) -> USB DAC -> Studio Monitors (cheater plugs)

Just to clarify, there is no "cheater plug" attached to my computer but there are two "cheater plugs" connected to my studio monitors. I have ordered a cheap ground loop isolator from ebay but it will not be arriving for at least 2-3 weeks and I am uncertain if it will resolve my ground loop problem. Additionally, I have heard that ground loop isolators can reduce sound quality, but I will reserve judgement on that until I receive and test mine.

My questions for you audio savvy people are as followed:

1. How unsafe is my current set-up at the moment?
2. Is it risky to use this as a temporary solution until my ground loop isolator arrives?
3. When I flip the power switch at the back of my studio monitors am I risking electrocuting myself?

I am generally a risk-averse person, as I work full-time as an internal auditor, but this hum is pretty much unbearable for me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
 

makkem

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Hi
Providing that the PC is grounded which you know it is or you would not be getting a ground loop then there is basically no chance that you will be electrocuted as the monitor to PC cable is acting as a ground link.
 

thee_prisoner

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Since the end plug is grounded you should be fine. Most ground loop problems are caused by the cable guy. Your house is grounded then the cable people come in an add a second ground. If you're concerned about sound reduction, try using the isolator on the cable modem first and see if that solves the problem.

be seeing you, the Prisoner...
 

makkem

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Hi
Providing that the PC is grounded which you know it is or you would not be getting a ground loop then there is basically no chance that you will be electrocuted as the monitor to PC cable is acting as a ground link.
 
G

Guest

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Hi guys, i experience the same problem, and i want to tri also to disable grounding on my monitors side. The question is, does it make any difference if i use unbalanced TRS cables between monitors and audio interface? The grounding should retourn to PC anyway right?
 

makkem

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Hi
Balanced or unbalanced will make no difference as it is the cables shielding that is connected to ground and so yes the grounding will return to the PC.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Thank you for the quick response. I hope this will solve the noise once for all.
 
G

Guest

Guest
So, this solved the problem. For those who encounter the same issue (noise in speakers generate apparently by motherboard or graphic card when using the PC) is just a grounding loop problem and can be safely resolved by this solution. Tnx guys.
 
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