My landlord replaced our fancy intercom system to a cheap one, I am guessing because of maintenance. The new one does not have any controls and I am trying to reduce the noise of the buzzing or, if possibly, replace it with a compatible one that allow for reducing the volume. The pics below show the model and the wiring: enter image description here

enter image description here

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    What causes the "ear splitting" noise? Is it constant? Is it only when someone hits the button at the other end? Is it just your unit that has an issue - maybe it's defective - if not, everyone should get together to present a unified front to the landlord requesting a change. In the meantime, maybe just put a piece of foam over the speaker to mute the noise. If you can't understand the voices, make a foam flap that you can lift to hear voices but mutes the "noise". Please edit your post to include some of these details. – FreeMan Sep 18 '20 at 15:30
  • Check that the wire clamps aren't clamping the insulation. However my guess is that it's interference cannot be fixed at your end. – ratchet freak Sep 18 '20 at 15:51
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    There's a master controller for those systems. Talk to you landlord and see if he'll adjust it. – JACK Sep 18 '20 at 15:51
  • @FreeMan and all it;s not defective, the buzzing is just too loud. – awm Sep 18 '20 at 16:31
  • Bear in mind that "ear splitting" to you may be "barely audible" to someone with hearing issues. Sadly, this unit doesn't appear to have an obvious volume adjustment, maybe find out if there is a volume adjustable version available. Or, go with some "muting foam". – FreeMan Sep 18 '20 at 16:34

The quick-and-dirty solution: place tape over the speaker grille. The 2" wide clear tape used for packaging/boxes provides a nice balance of muffling the sound while remaining visually unnoticeable on excessively loud childrens' toys; it'll probably do well here too.

The electrical solution: add some resistance to the speaker circuit. This could be done with a resistor added between the terminals right on the speaker, or with a resistor added in series with the speaker.

It's a bit hard to tell in the photo but I think I see the red wire from the speaker soldered to the top-left corner of the circuit board and a trace going from that point to the terminal marked 1. If that's correct then the easiest electrical hack is probably to disconnect the green wire and insert a resistor there.

The resistor could be a variable type ("potentiometer") like this 200 ohm Bourns 3386X-1-221LF

Bourns potentiometer

or it could be a through-hole fixed-value type that looks similar to this

1/4-watt through-hole resistors

The potentiometer is nice because you can adjust its resistance (and therefore the speaker volume) by turning the dial. You'll almost certainly have to solder wires to attach to those leads though. The through-hole resistor would be easy to install (no soldering) but you'll have to experiment to find the right value. Fortunately resistor kits with a variety of values can be had at low cost. Something in the range of 20-150 ohms will probably put the speaker volume where you'd like it.

If you find that this hack makes the voices in the intercom inaudible then you could add a momentary normally open push-button switch. The switch would be wired across the resistor so that when pushed the resistor is bypassed and the speaker goes to full/normal volume.

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    0.5W is twice the max power of a pcb trim pot, so it could over-heat and be dangerous if there was a lot of buzzing. Connecting a resistor in parallel to the speaker shares the load, so it might be right under spec if 45 ohms, and that should reduce the volume by 75%. – dandavis Sep 18 '20 at 18:40
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    @dandavis The particular Bourns part I mentioned actually is rated for 0.5W so it's fine. But you raise a good point: some potentiometers may be rated for less power. – Greg Hill Sep 18 '20 at 18:47

Over-engineered solution:

  1. Get a programmable timer switch. This contains a relay that will switch on/off when you program it to do so.

  2. Cut the red speaker wire and insert the relay in series with the speaker. Set the timer so the relay is off at night, which basically disconnects the speaker.

  3. Sleep.

You can put a 1000 ohms 1 Watt resistor across the relay terminals. So when the relay is on, it shorts the resistor and the speaker is at full volume, and when the relay is off the resistor is in series with the speaker, like so:

enter image description here


Sound perception is not linear, so if you put say a 100 ohm resistor you'll get about 3x less voltage across the loudspeaker, but it won't sound 3x less loud... it will sound a bit less loud. Therefore, more ohms. Resistors are cheap, you can buy several values.

You should not buy a switched socket because that will output mains voltage. You need a timer switch which lets you access the relay contacts, like this one. Many different models are available. I selected one that is powered from 12V, that's a good idea if you don't want to mess with mains voltage, just use any old 12V wall wart you have lying around.

This will also attenuate the speaker when talking to people though. That's why I thought about the timer, so the thing stays more or less functional during the day.

Of course, you could use a manual switch to make a 2-position volume control, but then you forget to turn it down at night and some drunk hooligans ring all the doorbells at 2AM...

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