There is a wide range of noise sources that exist in even the most benign lab environments. There are natural sources of noise, which are native to the environment and man-made sources of noise, which are often unavoidable. Some noise sources are hard to characterize as belonging to either category.


  • VIBRATION: seismic movement, building sway
  • ACOUSTIC: wind, ocean waves
  • EMI: solar events, Earth’s magnetic field
  • THERMAL: daily variation


  • VIBRATION: pumps and other machinery, foot traffic, vehicle traffic, moving parts within instrument, construction, mining operations
  • ACOUSTIC: human voices, pumps and other machinery, wind
  • EMI: traffic, elevators, MRI machines, HVAC equipment, radio communication
    • Electrical noise can also cause EMI signatures to negatively effect instruments in a lab. These sources include: insufficient grounding, line noise, and noise floor constraints.
  • THERMAL: daily variation, man-made heat sources, body heat


  • Air currents, dust and particulate, sample contamination, gas/atmospheric variation, and more!

The categories below go into more detail of the primary noise sources most commonly found in a lab environment.