Snap, Crackle, Pop
March 29, 2010 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Are there any powered computer speakers (2.0) that are shielded from the dreaded snap-crackle-pop interference from GSM mobile devices?

I'm looking for a new pair of computer speakers for my desktop at work in a cubicle for occasional listening. For the past few years I've been enduring a pair of Creative SBS270 speakers that suffer from loud, grating interference from my GSM Blackberry from AT&T, even if I keep my Blackberry as far away as possible (10 feet) while still being in my personal area.

The Creative speakers were standard ~$25 speakers and were supposedly "shielded" from monitor interference. It's not clear to me if that type of shielding is also supposed to be applicable to blackberry interference. I'm looking at newer models like the Logitech X-140s or comparable ones ($20-$50) from Creative, Altec Lansing and others and I'm wondering if the shielding will be any better on those. I'd be willing to pay up for something nicer like Bose Companion 2 if I knew it would solve the problem, but I am having trouble finding any reviews that talk about this issue.

I'd like whatever speakers I get to be 2.0 (don't want to use a sub in the office) and have a headphone port built into one of the speakers.

I need to keep the Blackberry turned on, so disabling it or putting it in foil to reduce its signal is not a good solution.
posted by jameslavelle3 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have an old USB cable you're willing to sacrifice, you might be able to shield your own speakers. Many USB cables have ferrite beads, which are there to prevent stuff like mobile phones from inducing stray currents in the cable. They're nothing exotic, just conveniently shaped chunks of iron. They act as a choke, preventing your cables from resonating with the signal sent out by the phone, and so stopping the noise.

Running the cable through the centre of the bead is ideal, but just taping it to the side will have a noticeable effect.

If you don't want to destroy a USB cable, you can buy ferrite beads from electronics shops for pennies. Taping an ordinary bar magnet to the side of the cable should have the same effect, as it's basically the same material.
posted by metaBugs at 7:40 AM on March 29, 2010

I use a pair of DLO speakers to play music from my iphone, and they're really well shielded. I used to have terrible pops and buzzes from my old pair, but these are silent with regards to GSM noise. The ferite bead didn't do much for me with my old pair of speakers. These are powered from a wall plug, or 2 AA's, but don't have a volume control (they rely on the output of the iphone/ipod/blackberry for volume control). They have a headphone jack for input, and are $30 at I think I got mine as Best Buy, but I don't see them there now.
posted by Read at 8:11 AM on March 29, 2010

My M-Audio Studiopro 3 speakers are relatively free of GSM noise from my iPhones. That model is no longer for sale, but this Studiophile AV 30 is similar. Note it says specifically "magnetic shielding", which in the age of LCDs doesn't much matter for your monitor but may help keep the GSM beasties out. I also have a ferrite bead clipped on the cable. You can buy special detachable ones, it's basically a magnet shaped into a ring. I don't know how much it helps, but it doesn't hurt.
posted by Nelson at 8:22 AM on March 29, 2010

Regarding the Bose speakers - I've got the Companion set, and I generally leave my phone propped on one of the speaker stands all day without any crackling; no aftermarket ferrite beads necessary. With my (very) old Logitech speakers it was nothing but static.
posted by thermogenesis at 10:14 AM on March 29, 2010

Put your phone on a metallic surface. Sometimes even a spare CD is enough.

I find that when I do this, all the interference to my speakers stops, even though my phone still has a good signal.

I don't know why it works, but it does.
posted by Mwongozi at 12:44 PM on March 29, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice.

Update: I ended up getting the Logitech x-140s. If the blackberry is close (1-2 feet), they pick up some minor interference every now and again, but the magnitude is substantially less than before. If I keep the blackberry several feet away or more, interference is virtually non-existence.
posted by jameslavelle3 at 11:43 AM on March 31, 2010

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