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On the most part unless you are very unlucky at whine tends to be caused by one item in the signal path from the head unit to the speakers. Once you have traced the culprit it can often make solving the problem easier as you know where to look rather than stabbing blindly at things. Follow the simple steps below and hopefully it should help.

First set a CD of silence playing or a regular disc turned down low. It's advisable that you turn off the system between changing RCA connections for safety purposes, if you change them with the system running you've been warned and I'm not responsible for any damage you may cause.

A small system will consist of a headunit connected to an amp via an RCA lead, and the amp then connects to the speakers via some speaker cable, it's very unlikely that audible alt whine could be induced in the speaker cables so I shall ignore them to start with. In a more advanced system you will have processors in the way.

Simple system tracing:

  1. Pull the rca out of the amp is the noise still there? Yes/No.
    If Yes, it's the amp.[/*]
  2. If No, plug the RCA in from the amp to the HU but leave it unplugged at the HU end, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If yes it's that RCA.[/*]
  3. If no, plug the RCA into the HU is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If Yes, it's the HU.[/*]
  4. If no, something wierd happend and the problem is solved.[/*]

Advanced system tracing:Assuming a single processor

  1. Pull the rca out of the amp is the noise still there? Yes/No.
    If Yes, it's the amp.[/*]
  2. If No, plug the RCA from the processor to the amp into the amp but leave it unplugged at the processor end, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If yes, it's that RCA.[/*]
  3. If No unplug the RCA from the HU to the processor and plug in the RCA from the processor to the amp, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If Yes it's the processor.[/*]
  4. If No, plug the RCA in from the processor to the HU but leave it unplugged at the HU end, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If yes it's that RCA.[/*]
  5. If no, plug the RCA into the HU is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If Yes, it's the HU.[/*]
  6. If no, something wierd happend and the problem is solved.[/*]

Advanced system tracing 2:Assuming a multiple processors

  1. Pull the rca out of the amp is the noise still there? Yes/No.
    If Yes, it's the amp.[/*]
  2. If No, plug the RCA from the processor1 to the amp into the amp but leave it unplugged at the processor1 end, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If yes, it's that RCA.[/*]
  3. If No unplug the RCA from the processor2 to the processor1 and plug in the RCA from the processor1 to the amp, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If Yes it's processor1.[/*]
  4. If No, plug the RCA from processor1 to processor 2 into processor1 but leave it unplugged at the processor2 end, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If yes, it's that RCA.[/*]
  5. If No unplug the RCA from the HU to the processor2 and plug in the RCA from processor2 to the processor1, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If Yes it's the processor2.[/*]
  6. If No, plug the RCA in from the processor2 to the HU but leave it unplugged at the HU end, is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If yes it's that RCA.[/*]
  7. If no, plug the RCA into the HU is the noise back? Yes/No.
    If Yes, it's the HU.[/*]
  8. If no, something wierd happend and the problem is solved.
    If you have more than 2 processors in the chain then repeat steps 4-5 incrementing the processor number each time for each processor in the chain[/*]

In almost every case you will simply need to find a better ground location for that component. Clean, bare chassis metal is the best solution. Many times installers will use whatever factory bolt is handy and that can work but it can also cause problems. Factory bolts are not a bad source necessarily, but if they have other electrical components using them as a ground this can be a source of noise. If you're not using a new ground point then you'll want to make sure your factory bolt meets the criteria above.

Hope that helps some people.
 
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