This is Why You Hear Hissing Sounds from Devices

Have you ever heard a high pitched hiss or whine coming from one of your electronic devices? If you have there’s no need for you to be alarmed. You aren’t alone or going crazy, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Coil Noise Main Thumb

This is actually quite common and is known as “coil noise” or “coil whine”. It can be found in anything from smartphones to powerful gaming graphics processing units.  Although this high pitched noise can be quite annoying, it doesn’t mean that your device is malfunctioning.

For instance, there have been reports of the iPhone 7 giving off coil noise but this does not mean that it will self-destruct, as we will see later.

Ok, so your device isn’t going to blow up in your face, but why is it making that annoying noise? Also, is there anything that can be done to prevent it from happening?

If you have experienced coil whine then these are questions that you have probably asked yourself. If that’s the case, then you’re in luck. In this article, we will be exploring the answers to these questions and more.

What Causes Coil Noise

You should first note that there is a magnetic field surrounding any conductor with electricity passing through it. There are forces that are then exerted on these conductors as a result of the electric charges in them moving in the presence of these magnetic fields.

There are forces that are then exerted on these conductors as a result of the electric charges in them moving in the presence of these magnetic fields.

Before we go any further you should also note that all solid materials, unless there is absolutely no heat energy present, are actually vibrating even though you may not necessarily notice this. The frequency of these vibrations is referred to as the natural frequency of the material.


The amount of electricity passing through certain components in your devices varies and the magnetic fields vary as well. The resulting magnetic forces then vary at a rate which sometimes match the natural frequencies of the components in question.

This amplifies the vibrations of these components quite a bit resulting in what is called resonance.

Depending on the material the components are made of, these vibrations can actually be heard. The result is what is known as coil noise or coil whine.

The names coil noise and coil whine come from the fact that this sound can come from components such as inductive coils, which are used to counteract changes in current,  as well as transformers which also consist of coils.

However Corsair, a company which makes high performance PC items like power supplies and RAM, points out that this noise can come from other components and gives evidence of this noise occurring in certain types of capacitors.

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Coils, capacitors and other components on a circuit board | Shutterstock

Coil noise can be especially noticeable when a device is under heavy load.

Can Coil Noise Be Prevented?

If you have a device that is already giving off coil noise then unfortunately the answer is no. Usually it is up to manufacturers to make sure that the vibrations of their electronic components aren’t audible.

They can do this by applying a special varnish or tape to coils, or by selecting materials for components which won’t vibrate audibly.

..Maybe Make Some Music?

Although coil noise does not mean that your device is defective, it is admittedly annoying. Manufactures should strive to design devices which give off as little noise as possible!

To wrap up, yes coil noise can be annoying but it can be used constructively to create music though. If you don’t believe me, check out this YouTube video!

Last updated on 10 February, 2022

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