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My son has a few toys that are so loud and piercing that they hurt my ears (emergency trucks with sirens, an aeroplane flies around in a circle on an articulated arm, and a toy musical piano). My ears have had almost forty years of abuse, and I find them unbearable; I hate to think of the potential for damage to my son's ears. I don't understand how toys can be made and sold with such deafening noise levels.

I know enough about electricalness to know that I could just open up the toy and snip the wire to the speaker. But what if I don't want to mute it? I have considered covering external speaker grills with tape, but my son would probably just remove the tape. Is there something I can I do – discretely, from inside the toy – to an electronic speaker to quieten it without removing the sound entirely?

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Solder a resistor inline with one of the speaker leads? Seems like a lot of trouble. I'd be more selective about the toys I let come into the house. –  Marc Jun 22 at 2:04
    
That's a great idea, but I don't know what kind of resister to use. Do you have any recommendations? –  Steve HHH Jun 22 at 4:19
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This may seem like a smart ass response, but I never bought such toys for my daughter and when grandparents decided to, I sent those toys to their house for when she visited. Ended that kind of behavior quite quickly. –  Jeremy Miller Jun 22 at 6:09
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Shouldn't this be migrated to DIY or AV exchange sites? Seems a better chance of expert answer there. –  user3143 Jun 23 at 16:56
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I've used tape before but place it on the inside. –  DA01 Jun 23 at 23:07

4 Answers 4

I have shoved cotton balls into speaker grills before. On one toy with an internal speaker (squeaking rabbit) I did have to open the toy to put the cotton balls in, but it was not big deal.

Note that you need to compress the cotton in there, so start with a ball of cotton about twice the size of the volume of the speaker cone and shove! Tweezers and thin chopsticks make this easier.

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In my experience, putting some tape over the speaker hasn't caused my son to rip it off if you use tape with edges that won't peel up. That is a valid concern though.

Another idea is maybe push some putty or wax or glue in the speaker grills. Or if you can take it apart enough you could put tape on the inside where he can't remove it.

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The glue is a great idea! Much simpler than the cotton idea. –  dotancohen Jun 25 at 11:07
  1. If you have a solding iron and know something about electronics, you can put a resistor in series with the speaker, reducing the output power (part of the power that would be converted in sound will be converted in heat by the resistor)

  2. It there's room inside the toy, you can try to reverse the speaker, so that it's pointing inside the toy and not outside

  3. (Philip answer) You can put noise absorbent materials in front of the speaker: cotton, foam, tape...

  4. (Dotacohen answer) You can put some material to compress the speaker, so that it won't move freely

  5. You can damage the speaker by making some holes / cuts on it, but it won't reduce the noise that much as it will distort the sound

  6. You can damage the speaker by droping some glue over it. This will make the diaphragm heavier and will produce less sound.

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I like the idea about the glue. It is a simpler answer than mine (cotton), supposing that there is time for the glue to dry. I'm off to find a noisy toy to silence, thanks! –  dotancohen Jun 25 at 11:06

"Batteries have run out, son, and these ones don't let you replace them"

Removes batteries and superglues battery compartment shut...

This and following the guidance in Jeremy Miller's comment have worked wonders for us. Well, until the kids started playing rock guitar, but that's different!

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