iPhone Buzz Kill

Michael Simon's picture

iPhone Buzz Kill

If you're like me, your iPhone is docked dangerously close to one (or both) of your speakers.

 

For as long as I’ve owned my iPhone, it’s held a permanent spot on my desk in its dock adjacent to one of my JBL Creature speakers. My cell phone is my primary form of communication in and outside my home, so it needs to be within reach at all times; and with so much e-mail checking and Internet browsing, it also usually needs to be charged.

 

Suffice to say, I’ve learned to deal with the annoying GSM buzz. You know what I mean: on some days, it’s barely audible, but more often, it “talks” to my speaker, which chirps back with a series of startling hums and purrs every few seconds. It’s a horrible noise when all is quiet at my desk and quite bothersome when listening to music.

 

Lately, however, it’s gotten increasingly worse, to the point where I’ve been woken in the middle of the night by my phone’s incessant buzzing. I’ve resorted to putting the thing in a drawer once it’s fully charged, which has led to missed calls and text messages. I’ve searched high and low for a solution, but short of buying new speakers or wrapping my phone in aluminum foil , I couldn’t find one.

 

Just the other day, however, after a particularly aggressive buzzing spell, I hit Google again, in pursuit of some relief. After reading about optical hook-ups and ground loops for the umpteenth time, I was ready to give up when I stumbled across a new term buried in the comments of one of less-than-helpful articles: ferrite beads.

 

Ferrite beads are passive electric components used to suppress high frequency noise in electronic circuits.

 

For those who don’t know, ferrite beads are housed inside the little nub found at the end of some USB cables. They can be cheaply purchased at most stores that sell computer parts (like Radio Shack), but if you happen to have an extra (and disposable) cable handy, this simple solution can be had for free.

 

If you've ever wondered what those little boxes at the end of USB cables are, crack open the case. Inside, you'll find a small ferrite.

 

It’s really quite simple. Take a pair of scissors and cut off the end of the USB cable. Pop open the ferrite case and slide the bead off. Then, all you need to do us attach the bead to the end of your speaker cable, where it meets the speaker. If you cannot fit the connector through the pre-drilled hole (I couldn’t), simply tape it to the wire with a measure of electrical tape.

 

Attach the bead to the wire with electrical tape, as close to the speaker as possible.

 

And viola! No more buzzing out of the right speaker (You’ll need a separate bead for each affected speaker). Now, my iPhone can charge all night long without waking me; even as I write this, my speaker hasn’t made a peep.

So, before you drop $150 on a new set of speakers, go grab your scissors and slice up a USB cable. Your ears (and checking account) will thank you.

 

45

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

sarahmark07

The topic which you chosen for discussion is really very good....Thanks.
http://www.ignitiondrivingschools.co.uk/driving-lessons/coventry

avatar

allen098

How much mississauge airport taxi or Mississauga AIRPORT LIMOSUINE cost,What other service can we get from them?

avatar

Williamwatson

With Buzz, Google also offers a mobile version with integration into Google Maps via layers and a mobile optimized website for the iPhone and Android. Looking perhaps to tap into the hype of check-in services like FourSquare, one can check into a location with a few clicks. Unlike other services, your location is now broadcast to everyone in the immediate vicinity, not just people you have followed. Again, this was another privacy issue that seemed to have little or no thought put into it before it was released. William<a href="http://facebookemoticons.com/">Facebook Emoticons</a>

avatar

softwarecouponcodes

Great post, certainly something we should keep in the back of our heads...http://www.softwarecouponcodes.net

avatar

antivirussoft21

BestAntivirusSoftware.co.nz is New Zealand’s No.1 FREE <a href="http://www.bestantivirussoftware.co.nz">antivirus software</a> and <a href="http://www.bestantivirussoftware.co.nz">best antivirus software</a> review website. We have reviewed and compared all of the leading security software brands so that you can compare, try free downloads and buy. We have teamed up exclusively with leading software including Norton, AVG, CA Software, Trend Micro, Kaspersky and many more to bring you discount coupons, lowest prices and special offers.

avatar

gabyjoesen

Thanks for your greetings. :D wish that Everybody would have more fun when visit this forums Costa Rica tours

avatar

360gamedownload

 This is a really good site post, im delighted I came across it. Ill be back down the track to check out other posts that...<a href="http://www.metacafe.com/w/4449865">360gamedownload</a>

avatar

nguyenngoc

Great tips, thanks for sharring and also for your website.
Caretaker 99 Parts

avatar

summer

GHD straighteners
GHD hair straighteners
cheap ghd hair straighteners
discount GHD Straighteners
GHD straighteners sale
cheap christian louboutin shoes
womens high heels
louboutin boots
louboutin sandals
louboutin pumps
Christian Louboutin Boots
Christian Louboutin Pumps
Christian Louboutin Sandals
Christian Louboutin Evening
Christian Louboutin Wedges
GHD Dark
GHD Kiss
GHD MK4 Black
GHD MK4 Gold
GHD MK4 Pink
GHD Pure
GHD Purple
GHD Radiance Set
GHD RARE Styler
GHD Precious MK4 Christmas set
GHD Pretty in Pink
cheap UGG boots
UGG boots
UGGs on sale
UGG boots on sale

avatar

Tokai

There are many private dentists in Staffordshire to choose from that offer cosmetic dentistry treatments such as laser teeth whitening, the Inman Aligner, smile makeovers with porcelain veneers por lumineers veneers for a natural or hollywood smile, invisalign braces to straighten crooked teeth and a variety of cosmetic crowns, dentures and white composite fillings to replace those old amalgam, metal filings. Browse our list of Staffordshire cosmetic dentists .

avatar

Cathy Preston

While signed into Yahoo and in a conversation shake your phone.

Dating Advice

avatar

arabalar

I can't help applauding that it's really an exquisite MP4 when I saw it the first time
http://www.satilik2.com Http://arabalife.com http://altinim.com http://kraloyunlarioyna.com

avatar

benet

Every little chat Salon 1000 ah!replica watchYou are my best's buddy
4354jk

avatar

arabalar

Wow It really works. I slipped the Iphone right into the bag, connected to external speakers No more noise! I even called the phone it see if it would have any interference and nothing quite as can be Araç Altın cars dogum

avatar

alexliu1920

I can't help applauding that it's really an exquisite MP4 when I saw it the first time.

http://www.sourcinggate.com

avatar

alexliu1920

This doesn't just affect the iPhone. I've had a problem like this ever since my first cell phone. Oddly enough I've gotten so use to it that now I miss it. My speakers and my phone aren't ever near eachother so rare do I ever hear it. As I use to keep my phone on silent or vibrate all the time I had to depend on that beeping to know something was going on with my cell. I'll have to look into these beads though. Working on an experiment with my dad and those beads will come in handy as it deals with this very issue.Note:If you are interested in this item,you can turn to P168C ( http://www.sourcinggate.com/p1668/CECT-P168C-Dual-SIM-Card-Mobile-Phone-+3.5-inch-Toch-Screen/product_info.html ) on our website ,which is an update product of this one.

http://www.sourcinggate.com

avatar

vudean

What about land line phones that pick up the interference (portable and corder). I have one that does the "flash" thing and switches over to another line whenever it picks up a strong GSM buzz, quite annoying... any ideas? put the ferrite on the phone cord? the power cord to the phone? Wrap the whole dang thing in em??

avatar

sam

can anyone explain exactly why GSM devices cause such interference? I used to use Verizon which isn't GSM and that phone never caused such interference...a luxury i lost when i switched back to AT&T.

avatar

vudean

I blame the FCC.. they like to fix and police everything else... why couldnt they put a stop to this annoying interference.

avatar

Michael Perlman

One of my friends says that when he's listening to music on his CD or MP3 player, he can tell that he's got a phone call before the phone starts ringing. Both he and I have Nextel service (in one form or another - I've got prepaid Boost Mobile, a subsidary of Sprint Nextel), which runs on the proprietary Motorola-developed iDEN network. Phones on this network are notorious for interfering with other electronics (including shutting off my wireless mouse), so this tip may help at least with the audible interference.

avatar

David Martinez

I went in calling them ferrite beads and I got blank stares and no help. After a while I found them, under the name "Snap Choke Core". They are $2.99 for a package of 2 at the Radio Shack by me.

Note that it's not just the wires coming to the speakers. In my case it's also right in front of the iMac. The iMac has the wire that goes *to* the speakers attached to its back. Once I did it on all 3 (two speakers, cable from Mac), it seemed to reduce it at the point that the speakers have to be full blast for me to start noticing.

avatar

Mystech

I've seen this phenomena with many people's phones, but never with any Blackberry I've owned. I wonder if they are just better shielded or what.

avatar

Anonymous

My ATT Blackberry Curve is GSM and suffers from this problem, well at least it did until I found this article on lifehacker this morning. Myself and the rest of the IT nerds here started hacking up cables and now the buzz is gone.

avatar

JRod

Perhaps your Blackberry isn't on a GSM band. If you have Verizon, US Cellular, Alltel, Sprint or similar non-GSM carriers then it won't buzz. AT&T and T-Mobile are the widest GSM carriers in the US.

avatar

Anonymous

This doesn't just affect the iPhone. I've had a problem like this ever since my first cell phone. Oddly enough I've gotten so use to it that now I miss it. My speakers and my phone aren't ever near eachother so rare do I ever hear it. As I use to keep my phone on silent or vibrate all the time I had to depend on that beeping to know something was going on with my cell. I'll have to look into these beads though. Working on an experiment with my dad and those beads will come in handy as it deals with this very issue.

avatar

Alec

This was an excellent little article. There are a number of short range wireless devices that produce this type of "buzz" as well.

Have you considered posting this little diddy in Instructables.com? I think it belongs there.

avatar

Chadwick Grant

I did an exhaustive study, and ferrite beads didn't work at all for me. I bought six different sets of speakers, and in the end, I learned that it's more about how the amplifier is shielded. Read more here:
http://9to5mac.com/iPhone_GSM_Buzz4_solved
It's also now the first result when googling "iphone GSM buzz" ;-)

avatar

Alexis

The two speakers I have beads taped to haven't made a sound all day. However, my alarm clock has a clip on bead on it and it still makes noise.

FWIW.

avatar

John Rhee

So I found couple of those lying around (the clip on ones that came with my camcorder). I put it on both (L and R speakers) of the wiring from the back of the speaker. And I still hear the annoying GSM chirping and whirling sound. Am I doing something wrong here?

avatar

laptopleon

In the article, the cable from the Mac to the speaker is really carrying the (relatively weak) signal that is amplified in the speaker casing.

You have to use the ferrite on the cables that go into the amplifier. Then you guard it from becoming an antenna for unwanted signals. After the signal is amplified, the ferrite won't help, like in the cable to the speakers.

In this case, I'd go for the bag-solution, unless you have a radio you can connect a iPhone to by cable. Then use the ferrite on that cable. 

avatar

Mike

I don't know --- maybe there are different grades of ferrite? Is the sound diminished at all?

avatar

John Rhee

Well, it's hard to say. I think it has diminished a little but still annoying. You can check out a picture of where I placed it. The white section is white electric tape that I used to thicken the wire so the the clip on Ferrite would stay put instead of sliding down this thin speaker wire.

http://gallery.mac.com/jcrhee#100013

avatar

Mike

This may sound like a stupid question, but is there a bead inside the case? The only reason I ask is because I couldn't get mine to close around the cable, which is why I had to tape it to the wire.

avatar

Mac Mechanic 707

It's great little nuggets like these that make life a little easier. Of course since keep my cell phone next to my office phone I know moments before my cell ever rings that it's going to.

avatar

Troy T

I remember getting things like these with my HDD video camera. It actually included snap-on versions of these things for every cable that it came with. Using the 'radio shack' reference in the article, I looked... they sell them for a little over $5 a piece. Go to their site and search out the catalog number.... it is 273-105.

I think this would handle the GSM radio interference in a car solution too, but sometimes what you're hearing in your car is related to something called 'ground loop interference'. These little items would not help with that situation.

avatar

MacMike

There's an even EASIER solution, use an anti-static bag. The anti-static bag acts something like a Faraday cage to isolate the higher frequencies from interfering with the electronics around it. I've been doing this for a while now and it definitely helps. Just slide your phone into an anti-static bag and keep it in your area (still not right near your speakers). You can still get calls on your phone and sync it. The advantage of this method is that you don't need to cut any cables AND it will work even if your iPhone isn't connected to the cable. Give it a try!

avatar

savi

Usually I do not post on posts, but I would like to say that this site really forced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. falling behind on mortgage payments is not something you want to willingly do; in fact, every measure possible should be taken in order to avoid that scenario.
http://www.spydertext.com
 text message marketing

avatar

Anonymous

Wow It really works. I slipped the Iphone right into the bag, connected to external speakers No more noise! I even called the phone it see if it would have any interference and nothing quite as can be.

avatar

john gallo

ok, wow! sounds great, but how do i stop the buzz in my car? ive started to use the iphone to replace cds in my car, but have to deal with that buzz. kinda hard to wrap a ferrite bead to those speakers without undoing everything.

avatar

Elsifer

Try moving the iphone away from the dash.

Otherwise, put ferrite donuts on each of the speaker leads. Or one big one on the wiring harness into the car stereo. From the passenger side of the vehicle, you should be able to reach up and back into the dash to grab that.
The speaker wires are acting as antenna's, blame FCC Part 15. Cheap consumer electronics are not meant to put out harmful interference, but must accept unwanted interference.

Or when driving, put the iphone in flight mode. You shouldn't be talking on the phone and driving anyways!

Log in to Mac|Life directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.