Easy Fixes for Radio Problems

June 30, 2015

Getting the best sound from your audio equipment means keeping both it clean and dust-free. Position your equipment to make the best use of a room's acoustics will improve your listening experience.

Easy Fixes for Radio Problems

Radio reception is poor

Choose a better location for your set

If your radio crackles or if the sound breaks up when listening to your favourite station, take a few simple steps to improve reception.

  • Radios pick up electrical "noise" generated by other devices, notably lights fitted with dimmer switches, halogen lights, computer monitors, TV screens and microwave ovens. If possible, switch these appliances off or move the radio away from them.
  • Position your radio near a window and fully extend its antenna. Try changing the orientation of the built-in antenna; FM radios often work better with the antenna placed horizontally, while digital radios usually favour a vertical position.
  • Some radios allow you to attach an external antenna; buying and attaching one of these will boost the signal.
  • If you're getting a "hissy" sound from your stereo radio, try switching to mono if there's an option to do so. Mono signals are usually stronger than stereo, so you'll benefit from a cleaner signal but at the expense of the stereo effect. Modern digitally tuned radios often have no mono switch; they can be "forced" into a mono state by going up or down one frequency step. Instead of 91.30 MHz, for example, try setting 91.25 MHz or 91.35 MHz.

The radio makes a humming noise

Try battery power

If your radio consistently hums when connected to a power outlet, there could be a fault in its internal transformer. Switch to battery power; if the hum disappears, the transformer is probably to blame — continue using batteries or take the radio for repair or recycling.

  • Try another power outlet; if the hum disappears, the original socket might be damaged or incorrectly wired.
  • Humming from your car radio could be caused by a faulty component called an ignition noise suppressor — get it checked out by your mechanic.

Turning the volume control makes a crackling sound

Silence the noise with switch-cleaner spray

A scratchy static sound when you turn one of the controls on your audio equipment probably means that dust or oxidization has built up on the potentiometer — the component attached to the spindle of the control knob.

  • Turn off the player and try spinning the control knob to and fro repeatedly for a couple of minutes — this is often enough to scrape any oxidization from the potentiometer's innards.
  • If this doesn't work, remove the plastic knob from its spindle; some simply pull off, others have a retaining screw on the side of the knob that you'll need to loosen with a small screwdriver.
  • Spray some switch cleaner (available from electronics stores) along the spindle of the control. Don't use WD-40 or any other type of lubricant. Replace the knob and try again.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu