Ferrite Beads

The Scenario:

You’re sitting at your desk, listening to some Katy Perry streaming in from your Yahoo! Music. The beat and mood are right, you’re into the groove and you’re making some serious progress on your project. Then you hear:


The GSM signal from your mobile device causes your computer speakers to emit devilish sounds, obliterating your mood as well as your music, sending you into a virtual frenzy in search of your cell so that you can toss it into the waste receptacle.

Ok, not quite that bad but annoying enough.

In scouring the net for a possible preventative measure, it appears this phenomenon has created enough “buzz” to warrant some clever solutions in dealing with the ever-present GSM-buzz scourge of modern times:

Solution #1

Ferrite Beads - As shown in the pic above, these are small cylindrical chunks of iron, and are available for purchase at your local Radio Shack (referred to in the store as a “choke”). They come in varying configurations and designs depending on where you find them.

And for those of you who prefer to hack rather than shop, Ferrite Beads can also be found in the ends of USB cables, usually sheathed in a plastic housing (see below):

Ferrite Beads

As detailed in this article, the beads (once extracted or purchased) can actually be placed onto your speaker wires leading up to your speakers (right where the wire connects to your speaker) — a little electrical tape will hold them in place. You will need a separate bead for each affected speaker. Once attached, the buzz should be a thing of the past.

Solution #2 (Best)

An Anti-Static Bag - If it wouldn’t bother you to have to physically remove your phone from a clear-plastic bag each time you want to fiddle with it, then this is the quickest and perhaps easiest solution of them all. Anti-static bags act something like a Faraday cage to isolate the higher frequencies from interfering with the electronics around it.

For some phones, simply setting the phone on top of the bag is enough to do the trick:

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 to your computer. The advantage of this method is that you don’t need to cut any cables AND it will work even if your mobile device isn’t connected to the data cable. A bit clinical, but nonetheless effective.

Anti-static bag

Solution #3

Dock-Extender Cable - For those of you out there with iphones, a fix (or at least a reduction in interference) may be as easy as simple proximity. A dock-extender allows you to move your iphone further away from your computer’s speakers, increasing distance and decreasing proximity — thereby reducing the amount of buzz created by the GSM’s constant activity.

iphone dock extender

So there you have it. No more buzz, much less stress, and more of that uninterrupted top 100.

[Via Maclife] [Via iphonehacks]

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Comment by Christina
2008-10-22 08:52:18

THANK YOU!! Your #2 worked like a charm. Luckily I had one of these bags from my brother’s new computer thingy. No more buzzzzzzzz

Comment by Kevin
2009-03-11 08:27:59

I used the antistatic bag trick and modified it a little. I took a piece of aluminum foil, folded it up a bit, and shaped it like a box. then, I cut up the antistatic bag and laid it inside. Now, when I charge my phone, no more interference on my alarm clock.

Thanks for this article :D

Comment by Brady Lee
2009-12-14 08:35:49

The 3G iPhone now eliminates this GSM buzz - with improvements in the phone and by switching to the 3G network from what I understand.

Most phone designers have learned how to lower the noise or prevent it altogether so I doubt we’ll hear much of this in the future, except perhaps on cheap models.

Hope this info helps!

Comment by Spencer
2011-06-23 03:46:01

Great tip with the anti static bag. I now just sit my phone on top of it and no more buzzing…..ahhhhh lovely.

Thanks alot.

Comment by rog
2011-09-01 00:57:02

Fantastic article - thanks for the great solutions! Tried number 2, which works great. Will get hold of some beads next week to provide a permanent solution. Thanks!

@Brady Lee. My iPhone4 is awful for this. I guess Apple haven’t nailed it yet.

Comment by Bruce
2013-02-07 12:44:26

You can also set your phone down on top of an old CD you dont care about, with the CD top side up. The foil emulsion from the CD will deflect/shield the signal. I find this works well with the Iphone.

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