I live near a temple and during the morning prayer, more often than not, the loudspeaker would produce a jarring sound.

Is there a single word for the sound distortion from micrphone or amplifier.

  • 5
    It's usually just referred to metonymically as feedback. Feb 12, 2015 at 19:30
  • 1
    Distortion is called "distortion". Feedback (a squealing sound that's usually much more annoying) is called "feedback".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 12, 2015 at 20:40
  • 1
    Possibly related at Music.SE: Why are speakers howling when a microphone comes in front of the speaker boxes?
    – choster
    Feb 12, 2015 at 20:44
  • 1
    sound distortion relates to the sense of electronic feedback.
    – Misti
    Feb 12, 2015 at 20:55
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    @EdwinAshworth, I don't see a functional difference in those definitions either. They both clearly refer to the loop inherent in feedback, which doesn't sound like what the OP is describing (a minor form may be heard as ringing after a loud sound).
    – Chris H
    Feb 13, 2015 at 9:53

3 Answers 3


It will depend on just exactly what kind of "jarring noise" you're referring to.

The most common is a high-pitched, very loud sound which persists until the microphone is moved or the volume is reduced. This is feedback, feedback howl, or feedback squeal.

Sometimes it's a scraping sound caused by moving the microphone, and the contact with the supporting surface causes noise. This is called microphonics.

Sometimes it's caused by wind blowing on the microphone (and can often be cured by placing a foam cover over the microphone), and this is called wind pop.

Sometimes it's caused by the speaker or singer speaking or singing too loudly, and that's overload or clipping.

Sometimes it's caused by a bad connection, and is usually called static. If the bad connection is caused by a particular position of the microphone or wires it can be momentary or intermittent (and very hard to track down).

Sometimes it's caused by line-frequency electrical noise, and that's called hum. If it only happens occasionally, it's called intermittent hum. As with static, it may be caused by a certain position of the wires or microphone, and only last a short time.

  • The answer was already in the comments above. Feb 12, 2015 at 21:45
  • @weakphoneme It's perfectly acceptable to concoct an answer from comments.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 12, 2015 at 21:47
  • @AndrewLeach, coming from you, now I agree : )- Feb 12, 2015 at 21:49
  • This may be outside the normal scope of ELU as technobabble, but it is really useful. Thank you. Feb 12, 2015 at 22:39
  • @weakphoneme - As far as I know, only 3 possible types of "jarring sound" source had been mentioned, but there was no confirmation from the poster that he was satisfied. So I included all the types I could think of. And he still hasn't given a better description. Feb 13, 2015 at 3:36

It is generally referred to as :

Static-buzzing and humming noise


  • noisy like the sound of a bee.


  • like a continuous droning sound of a bee on the wing; buzz.

"Noise", in a sound system, is when, without any intended input, one can hear a hiss, hum, or other sound (perhaps a radio static type sound).

"Distortion", in a sound system, is when the reproduction of sound is not "true". The sound coming out may sound "staticy" and muffled, even though there is no noticeable "noise" when there is no input.

"Feedback", in a sound system, is when sound from the loudspeaker "feeds back" into the microphone (or occasionally due to crossed wires), producing whistle or loud squeal.

All three terms are technical terms in the electronic trades, with essentially the same meanings as above, only applicable to other situations.

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