Need hardware widget that endows phone with loud ring/alarm
September 1, 2012 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I need a hardware device that endows my cell phone with a loud ring/alarm. I have bought and had to return 3 phones because they just aren't loud enough to reliably hear when they ring if they are buried under clothes, are in the other room, I am standing near traffic etc. No idea how phone designs got to this stage but there it is.

I'm not even the least bit hard of hearing, but I just want a phone that is as loud as a landline or thereabouts. Something I can hear reliably from the other room, while I am biking down a busy street or whatever. For some reason phones don't seem to include this anymore... And even if there were a few that did they will be hard to find etc.

I think I need essentially a speaker that plugs into the USB port and gets taped on the back of the phone. I searched high and low and can't find such a thing though. The closest thing is a speakerphone, but even the smallest ones will not fit in my pocket, taped to my phone.

It seems like this sort of thing has got to exist, but google hasn't been co-operating somehow. Anyone have one of these suckers/know what they're called?
posted by Nish ton to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, there is a cottage industry of accessories for people who have difficulty hearing - things, for example, like this, though that's not exactly what you're looking for. Perhaps that will help you in your search.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2012

Have you considered Clarity Pal?
posted by blue_beetle at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2012

Radio Shack should have flashing ringers for $20 (actually probably $60 with their new pricing).
posted by rhizome at 3:05 PM on September 1, 2012

Does your phone let you have the vibration setting as well as the ringer? I did that on my phone because it makes whatever it's sitting on vibrate too, so I can hear it a lot better than just the ringer. I have wood floors and it even vibrates the floor through my purse! I can also feel it in my pocket. That might help until you can find a speaker attachment.
posted by apricot at 3:50 PM on September 1, 2012

Response by poster: The flashing ringers are only for land lines apparently. Yeah, if you want a phone that just rings then sure those "accessible" phones might be good... I need a normal phone like you'd expect that also rings, if you dig. I need google earth and VNC, email, browser and calendar, in particular...
posted by Nish ton at 4:48 PM on September 1, 2012

Not loud, but if you have an iPhone, you can set the LED camera flash to blink repeatedly when your phone rings.

It's REALLY bright, and draws my attention (dependent on where my phone is placed, of course) when I otherwise wouldn't hear the ringer (or it's on Vibrate).

Maybe that, along with the vibrate thing, would help? One trick someone taught me was to put my iPhone, speaker-grilles down, into a glass. It amplifies the sound a bit.
posted by Master Gunner at 4:57 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

This doesn't help with the volume but have you looked into bluetooth vibrating bracelets? This would allow you to keep a fully-functional phone and have an alternate method of knowing that it is ringing.
posted by sacrifix at 5:30 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think your choice of ringtone would have a big influence here actually.
posted by w0mbat at 5:55 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you Google "amplify iphone ring," several possible answers pop up, including items No. 3, 19, 20 on this page.

You could also try the ringtone posted here.

The "Ampli-Phone" claims to work with multiple devices.

This gadget got a good review back in 2009.

And a commenter here says: "I've found the best way to make ring tones louder is to use a free audio program like Audacity to amplify the volume and them import the ringtone to iTunes yourself. "
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:27 PM on September 1, 2012

Remember the previous threads on audio compression? That is not compressing as in making it smaller in size, but compressing the audio range--and then using the newly created headspace to amplify whatever sound you are working on to the max. Instructions showing how to do this with Audicity here.

If you do that to a ringtone, especially one that is naturally loud to start with, you can make it A LOT louder than any ringtone currently is given whatever your current setup is.

It may not be as loud as you want/need but I guarantee it will be a LOT louder than it is now.

I've been thinking about doing this myself because my new phone is very soft. The phone does have a somewhat soft speaker but the main problem is that all the 'ringtones' that come with t are pleasant diddly little sounds that are supposed to make you feel warm fuzzy thoughts about your fancy new $900 device.

Not one of them has the BRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNGGGGG!!!!!!! sound that a real phone needs.

FWIW on a previous phone I found an 'old fashioned phone ringing' ringtone and then cranked it up all the way. There is as very good reason the old fashioned phones had vibrating bells on them. This ringtone was very noticeably louder than anyone else's ringtone--startling, in fact, if you were too close, which is why the new way is to have pleasant diddly little melodies that sound like you accidentally left your John Tesh CD playing through earphones in your pocket.

FWIW once you get your super loud ringtone it helps quite a bit if you get a utility that starts the volume out a lot softer and then increases it over a few seconds. If you're close to the phone you can shut the sound off before it becomes ear piercing and ticks off all your nearby coworkers--and if you're far away you can still hear it.
posted by flug at 6:44 PM on September 1, 2012

Finding a ringtone that has been heavily compressed and limited (in the audio sense, not like data compression) will give you a file that is significantly louder than the current ringtones your phone has. If you know anyone who is into home recording at all they can do something like that very easily.
posted by markblasco at 8:47 PM on September 1, 2012

For home use, I got an XLink. When your cell phone is within bluetooth range, it'll ring whatever home phones you hook up to it (I didn't actually have a landline, just got a set of cordless phones to attach to the XLink) and allow you to answer and place calls on your cell phone through the other handsets.

For biking, I make sure to keep the phone in an outside pocket on my panniers; generally I haven't had trouble hearing it if it's not muffled by something. And if the ambient noise is such I can't hear the phone ring, I'm sure not going to be able to talk on it.
posted by asperity at 11:30 PM on September 1, 2012

Response by poster: Asperity, that sounds like the phone I want... but can't find. Huh. Maybe it's a canadian market or a budget-phone thing? Still the problem remains.

The cell phone. Ring. Loud enough. These other things are really not the same I'm afraid though thanks for the suggestions. The widget I refer to seems to be the only thing that fits the bill. It tried those ringtones posted on my 4th phone which I still have, an optimus one. No joy.
posted by Nish ton at 9:55 AM on September 2, 2012

If it helps, I've had a Nokia N-Gage QD, a Nokia 6133, and a Samsung Reclaim over the last seven-ish years (sorry, no smartphones yet, perhaps their speakers aren't as loud?) and have made my ringtones and other phone sounds with Audacity using this tutorial (linked above). Also, I have bat ears.

Consider going MIDI with your ringtone if your phone allows it; those may be louder and clearer than recorded music. (Video game tunes are particularly likely to be available this way.) If you go with recorded music, easily identifiable and punchy instrumental music is best. The A-Team theme song is great. Or anything by Elmer Bernstein.
posted by asperity at 9:38 PM on September 2, 2012

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