How to Install a Ground Loop Isolator

by Bryan Clark
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A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing -- that's what your old Grandpa used to say. Car audio systems seem like about the simplest proposition in the world; use your brain, follow the cables, and connect stuff where it's supposed to go. What's hard about that? But audio systems are just like any other electrical system, and a lot can go wrong in the details. Once of them is the nefarious "ground loop," which is a phenomena that induces a maddening hum in the speakers. A "ground loop isolator" is a good temporary fix, but this might be a good time to talk to a pro about finding a more permanent solution.

Step 1

Turn the system off. Open the trunk or hatch and locate the amplifier, or locate the amp and its RCA jacks wherever they are in the car.

Step 2

Unplug the RCA cables from the amplifier. Plug the red and white RCA connectors into their respective -- usually color-coded -- jacks on the ground loop isolator.

Step 3

Plug the red and white RCA cables extending from the ground loop isolator into the amplifier.

Step 4

Ground the ground loop isolator by screwing the terminal into a bare metal spot of the car or by plugging it in to the negative terminal of the amp. Some ground loop isolators are self-grounded while others require this step. If the ground loop isolator has additional wires -- beside the RCA cables-- they are for grounding.

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