Noisy Focusrite Scarlett and how to fix it

Having noise issues on your external USB audio interface when connected to a desktop PC and powered studio monitors? Chances are you’re having issues with your grounding… Make sure you are using balanced cables, meaning three wires (two phases + ground) to connect your speakers to the output of your interface.

I recently spent quite a few hours chasing down an extremely annoying crackling hum on my audio setup because of that. No ground loop, all devices connected to the same circuit, I even hooked everything up to an online UPS so I get perfect sine voltage but to no avail. When connected to my main workstation there was a noticeable and extremely annoying background noise on my monitors that wasn’t there when I plugged the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 into my notebook or mobile phone via an USB OTG adapter. Heck, it wasn’t even there when I plugged it into an HP Z600 workstation that is sitting right beside my main computer, all connected to the same UPS, ethernet switches and whatnot…

Turns out I used unbalanced cables from the Scarlett to the monitors and apparently the MSI X99S mainboard (or maybe the power supply?) in my primary desktop computer has for some reason quite a bit of noise on the ground of the USB bus. Or something like that – I didn’t bother to get an oscilloscope to verify.

Swapping the cables from TS to proper TRS (tip-sleeve “mono” to tip-ring-sleeve “stereo” aka balanced) fixed it and everything sounds perfect, no matter what computer the interface is connected to.

6 thoughts on “Noisy Focusrite Scarlett and how to fix it”

    1. For the short distances I tried (up to 15 meters / 50 feet) it doesn’t seem to matter – I usually go with whatever is the cheapest I can find on Amazon. Haven’t had any problems with noise interference, as long as they’re balanced.

  1. I am learning how to record.

    That is why I am using Audacity. I am using a Scarlett Solo.

    I am hearing a hummmm in my headphones when I turn the recording volume up and it shows up on the Audacity recording volume.

    Here is the rub.

    If I press down on the Focusrite solo in the middle above the instrument line, the noise goes away.

    Another quirky thing is the noice is there when using a Pacifica electric and an Admira Classical Acoustic Electric but it does not appear with the Yamaha bass guitar that I bought.

    With this high learning curve in learning how to play again and to record, thi shuming sound is causing a lot of frustration.

  2. At first I had no problem with the focusrite scarlett solo 3rd Gen, on my desktop. After about a month I suddenly started getting noisy recordings (both inputs, mic and ac guitar) even with speakers off and unplugged. I can hear it and see it on the waveforms in Audacity. I installed Scarlett on my laptop and do not see the problem. Here is a screenshot –

  3. What if I still hear the hum after switching to balanced cables? I am using Mogami 1/4″ trs – Male XLR. Never had a hum like this out of my laptop.

  4. After multiple disgusting noisy years with my Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen and Yamaha HS5 monitor speakers I finally swapped from 1/4″ to 1/4″ TS mono jack cables to balanced TRS XLR-M cables. All the noise is gone and the sound is much clearer too. I got some premium cables from Mogami, just to be sure. I don’t regret it, am fully happy now!

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