Edit: This is the second in a series of four articles on Battling iPhone’s GSM Buzz. A solution to this issue is described in the fourth installment.

Oh, how I regret returning my M-Audio Studio Pro 3 Desktop monitors now.

This anonymous coward said:

I have Klipsch desktop speakers within 6" of my docked iPhone. Never a pop, click, hum, or buzz. (They sound great, too.)

This just goes to prove my theory that positive user reviews are always skewed. It’s natural that people want to give a favorable impression of the product they bought because they don’t want to feel like the fool who got taken in. I’m sorry, A.C., but the Klipsch have nothing on the M-Audio monitors. I’m listening to them as I write this, and later today, I’ll be boxing them up and returning them to Amazon too.

The high end is tinny and sharp and the bass is overwhelming, and unlike the M-Audios, there is no midrange. Those nuances that I heard for the first time with the M-Audios all disappeared in the Klipsch pair. I’m glad I tried the M-Audios first because I never would have known what I was missing.

And the Klipsch pair are not very loud at the limit. While the sound quality isn’t great on my cheapo pair of Logitech speakers, at least you can hear them clearly in the next room–they were even louder than the M-Audios, but the M-Audios made up for lower volume with better detail.

Another beef–the Klipsch pair have a large brick that is hardwired to the power cord. I really don’t like extra clutter under my desk…

But the worst thing about the Klipsch Groove PM20 2.0 Speaker System is the GSM buzz. I had my iPhone docked when I installed the speakers. I plugged the speaker cable into my sound card and then plugged the speakers into my surge protector. I immediately got the dreaded "bup, bup ba dup, bup ba dup, bup ba dup, bzzzzzzzzzzz" that I have heard in every 2.0 speaker set I’ve tried so far. And the buzz was louder, shriller, more constant, and way more annoying than with the M-Audio monitors.

2.0 Speaker Logitech R-10 M-Audio Studio Pro 3 Klipsch Groove PM 20
cost $17.02 $89.28 $96.06
GSM Buzz bad moderate bad
Sound quality (out of 10) 5 8.5 6
Diminishing returns, anyone?

As an aside, I want to point out that I often charge my iPhone with my old iPod firewire cable on the interim computer I’m using at work, which is an Intel iMac. The built-in iMac speakers have never had interference of any kind, and I’m pretty sure that’s because of the lack of external cables. I mentioned in the comments of the other piece that I did, in fact, purchase ferrite cores at Radioshack for the speaker cables, and they failed to prevent GSM buzz at all. I tried the two kinds of cores available at RS in multiple configurations, and nothing worked, so I returned them too.

Will I be repurchasing the M-Audio pair? No. As good as the sound was, they still didn’t live up to the reason I was shopping for new computer speakers in the first place: to overcome the GSM buzz from my docked iPhone. Anonymous Jim claims he has no GSM buzz with his USB connected speakers, and I’m interested to hear other people’s impressions of that interface.

I’m not sure a lot of speaker manufacturers are going to scramble to fix this issue because the inevitable solution is the ascendancy of UMTS and the death of GSM. Perhaps we should focus our disappointment on Apple, for rushing this phone to market on an inferior network. I personally doubt there will be any UMTS/3G iPhone for another four and a half years, until the initial contract with the Death Star is over, but I’ve been wrong before. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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