(TL;DR Tip: skip down to Updates to save yourself some time)
This past summer, after studying favorable reviews of the Samsung LED TV series 7000 and 8000, I decided to get one. I ordered the 8000 Series unit (UN55B8000) with 240Hz refresh rate. It arrived in perfect physical condition and worked great. I was thrilled with the picture quality.
But then, things went terribly wrong …
A Terrible Buzz
Within a day of installation it started to emit a noticeable buzzing sound — not like a normal hum you hear when you put your ear really close to some electronics. That would be fine. No, the distracting din can be easily heard from across the room and competes with the sound from TV programs and movies.
The buzzing is intermittent. Sometimes I’ll turn on the set and it’ll be perfectly quiet. When the unit is working right, it emits no ambient noise at all. But then it will start buzzing for hours before it settles down (or I get exasperated and switch it off). There is no repeatable pattern, and it doesn’t appear to be heat-triggered.
At times, it sounds like a pack of crickets chirping madly behind the unit, and it wavers in intensity for no reason. Sometimes (but not always) it becomes louder as the brightness of the picture increases. It’s at a headache-inducing frequency that just makes you wonder if watching the TV is worth the pain. But something about having just parted with three G’s makes me feel obligated to suffer with it.
The Service Calls (Yes, Plural)
As soon as the problem started, I searched the Internet to see if anyone was reporting any problems. But back in August, the 8000 series was newly released so I could not find anything.
I suspected a bad power supply as the noise wasn’t coming from the speakers. (In fact, later I proved this by disconnecting them completely.) So I called 800-SAMSUNG and opened a trouble ticket. After a couple of weeks and finally getting a regional service center to respond, a tech rolled up and replaced all the circuit boards except for the timecode board, which is part of the panel element. We fired up the set and it was perfectly quiet the way it should be.
The tech left, and I went to start reconfiguring the networking on the unit. But within an hour, it started buzzing again!
I called the service center back and they said the only thing it could be is the panel itself. So they ordered a new panel. A week or so later, the panel shows up and once again all the circuit boards are pulled off the old panel and installed on the new panel. Only this time when the power was applied, it was buzzing right away.
The service tech postulated that the first panel was bad and was blowing out the power supply boards, which is where the buzzing originates. (Specifically, it’s near two relays close to where the power cord connects to the board). So we ordered another power board and again waited for that part to arrive.
As before, the unit was opened up and the power boards were swapped again. But no difference and I’m not even surprised at this point. Keep in mind, this Frankensteinian result is essentially a completely new unit — new circuit boards, new LED-backlit LCD panel, new everything. Same old buzz.
Let’s Replace The Entire Unit
After three visits and changing out all the guts, the tech conceded and said I should call Samsung and put in a claim for a replacement unit. Now after nearly four months of messing around, a new UN55B8000 will be shipping within the first half of November.
As I contemplated two more weeks of buzzing, I expressed my concern over getting another bad unit. My Samsung Executive Claims representative assured me, “I don’t see that happening because it was manufactured at a different time than the previous unit.”
We’ll see. I’ll update this post when the new unit arrives.
Not Alone Anymore
While waiting, I searched again for trouble reports on the Internet. Only this time I started to find several people reporting very similar experiences. Many indicate going on their second, third, and even fourth replacement units! This has left customers feeling frustrated and hoping that Samsung is aware of the problem.
I am putting this entry into my blog as a magnet in hopes that others will document their problems here. With enough supporting evidence, perhaps Samsung will address the issue and provide a true fix.
If nothing else, I hope these experiences serve as a warning for those considering a Samsung LED TV. You should wait until this problem has been resolved before purchasing one.
The New Unit Arrives
A couple of weeks before the new unit arrived, the old one stopped buzzing and seemed to have cured itself. I was tempted to contact Samsung and cancel the order, but the shipment had already started and due to the intermittent nature of the buzzing, I was not confident that the old unit would stay fixed. But it made me wonder if these TVs need a burn-in period for the electronics to settle in, or something. Another problem I had with the old unit was that it was having trouble recognizing valid AVI files on an external USB drive. So I figured it was best to let the replacement happen.
The new unit arrived on November 17. Just like the older unit, it was perfectly quiet upon startup. And so far, almost two weeks later, it is still quiet. Plus, it can see and play the AVI files on the same USB drive that the older unit couldn’t (both units had the latest firmware updates, in case you were wondering).
At this point, the new unit appears to be just fine.
December 8, 2009 — For one day last week, the new unit started to buzz, just like the previous units. I decided to leave the TV on overnight. The next morning, the buzzing had stopped. I haven’t heard it since.
May 28, 2015 — Since this article continues to get a lot of traffic and comments, I wanted to provide a fairly happy update. After six years, the TV is still working fine without any noise and the picture looks just the same. The only thing wrong with it is that I broke the built-in Internet apps by trying to remove them all before doing fresh reinstalls of only the ones I wanted. DON’T TRY IT. After removing them all, going back to the Internet apps interface and pressing any key on the remote will cause the TV to reboot. Even a factory reset can’t seem to resolve this. If anyone knows of a fix, let me know. No major loss. A Chromecast and Fire TV Stick, however, are far better alternatives.
My problem was definitely due to a bad early production run. That’s why replacement parts didn’t work. Ultimately, it required a later production unit that made the buzzing go away. Of course, that was in 2009 when LED TVs were still relatively new, so such problems are not surprising.
Now over half a decade later and far better technology at lower cost, people are still having trouble with noise interference on their TVs. Why? Turns out the most common culprit is some external factor like a dimmer switch controlling a light fixture, a bad fluorescent bulb, or some other electrically noisy appliance in the vicinity. That’s where you should begin your troubleshooting.
What About Your Experience?
If you have a Samsung LED TV (series 7000 or newer, including models of any screen size) and are experiencing these problems, let us know here. Be sure to indicate your model number. If you have found a remedy or can confirm that newer models, such as the 8500, do not have this problem, shout it out.
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