Posted by: Ryan McDonald | August 5, 2008

Stop the buzz from your phone and speakers. Nerdtastic tech tip!

It was a very sad day in the Mighty household when my beloved and nerdy MacAddict Magazine was transformed into the droll, humdrum Mac | Live Magazine instead. Gone were the days of CDs chock full of oddball Apps and reviews stating something was “freakin’ awesome!” They’d gone corporate. I stopped my subscription but was still on their email list. Great… Another useless email clogging up my inbox just waiting to be deleted. Today I checked my email and found this gem:

iPhone Buzz Kill

I think I may re-subscribe… Read on.

Ever wonder if there was any way to make your phone and speakers stop buzzing, humming and frankly, getting all scary SkyNet-y when you put them too close together? I did… All the time. Living in an apartment with neighbors on all sides and thin thin walls, this phone/speaker buzz got really annoying. We could actually tell where on the couch our next door neighbor put their phone by how it interfered with the stereo speakers in our living room… even when our speakers were turned off.

But enough about me and the problem. Let’s get back to the solution. It’s something all true blue geeks have more than enough of if they know where to look: 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.

Everyone has at least two or three USB cords lying around the office or general “cords” box in the garage. You get one with just about every electronics purchase nowadays. If you don’t have one, the part number for ferrite beads at Radio Shack is 273-105 and they also apparently go by the poetical name, “Snap Choke Core”.

Another quick fix: toss your phone in an anti-static bag. Or you can always keep the love affair between your electronics going strong in the hopes that they’ll put in a good word for you when the iPods revolt and take over the world…

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Responses

  1. Yes! An end to evil speaker static! Thanks, Mighty.

  2. You don’t have to cut the USB cable in order to remove the ferrite choke. The ferrite choke is a ‘split core’ type, held in place by plastic jacket that snaps together. Just find the tangs on the side of the jacket and unhook them. The ferrite choke should open up and be released from the cord.

    Radio Shack also sells these ‘pop-on’ cores.

    Some ferrite cores are molded onto the cable. Those are another story, and much too difficult to remove.


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