Recently, my PlayStation 4 has developed the annoying new habit of beeping a lot. Not predictably, or consistently, but just enough that I’m always waiting for those next beeps. This is fine, I guess.
I first noticed the problem while playing Ghost of Tsushima a few weeks ago. Every so often, my PS4 would let out three alarmed beeps. This weird situation grew to include—sometimes, but not always—the whirring sound of the console attempting to eject a disc, even though there wasn’t a disc inside it. This happened randomly whenever the console was on, including when it was in rest mode.
Now, I’m a savvy modern person who deals with technology professionally, so I turned to the internet and searched “PS4 three beeps wtf.” I discovered this is a fairly common problem, which means countless PS4 owners have devised some possible fixes for it. I tried turning the PS4 off and on again, awkwardly pressing the ridiculous little notch that passes for its power button. I followed a YouTube video to carefully open the console and tighten the eject screw, which made me feel like a cool hacker instead of an anxious old man kneeling on my floor mumbling “I don’t think this part comes off” about a part that clearly comes off. Neither fix did anything, nor did snapping “Hey, shut up!” at my console whenever it beeped. These days, I just wear headphones so I can’t hear the beeping, and I turn the console off instead of leaving it in rest mode.
This isn’t a solution, of course. It’s occurred to me that if I ever put a disc in the console, my PS4 choosing to eject it will present a problem more dire than a relatively mild but annoyingly unpredictable sound. I could try to get Sony involved, but I doubt it’s under warranty since I bought it cheaply years ago from a friend who got a Pro. My plan, apparently, is to wait until the PS5 comes out, when I can either get one of those or finagle my way into someone’s previous-gen discard.
Like I said, this is a common problem that’s been known about for years. Several of my colleagues said “Yeah, that happens” when I first told them about it. I’m mostly a PC player, and I feel an undeserved smugness about largely being the cause of, but also the solution to, most of my PC’s problems. I grew dramatically indignant at console players’ resignation. “How do you live like this?” I raged. “Why would you just accept a machine that randomly decides to freak out?” None of this endeared me to my console-playing associates, nor did it stop the beeping.
I can’t really rest on my PC pedigree, though. When I built my gaming PC, I used a cheap case fan that soon began rattling when the machine starts up. It’s a disturbing sound, but it goes away after the computer’s been on for a bit. When it first started happening, years ago, my roommate at the time diagnosed the problem immediately and even gave me a replacement fan, which I’ve never installed. I’ve moved the new fan between apartments, sitting it near my PC and thinking “Yes, one day,” but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’ve even grown to like the sound—I can walk away after booting up my computer, and I know that when the rattle dies down, my computer’s finished the various startup tasks I’ve never gotten around to streamlining and is ready to play. I’m not a big hardware guy; my passion for my machines extends as far as them letting me do the things I want to do on them, so while I know I would have a more optimal PC experience if I took 10 minutes to replace the fan (as well as go through the host of meaningless programs Windows updates have decided I need on boot), I’ve just incorporated it into my life. I can do the same with my PS4's beeps.
“This is how you live now,” I tell myself gravely when I accidentally nudge my PS4 to life and it whirrs and beeps with gusto. I try to rationalize it: I live in New York City, which is a pretty noisy place to live, so one more noise isn’t going to kill me. Social distancing has made my life pretty boring, so the unpredictable nature of the beeps adds some spice to my day. It’ll only be a few more months, maybe. I can still play the damn thing, as long as I never decide to pop Horizon Zero Dawn or Bloodborne back into it. At least it’s not the constantly malfunctioning Xbox my sister bought her kids, which she’s sent to Microsoft several times and still can’t be counted on to work consistently. Beeps are a small problem in the grand scheme of things. Hell, I even got a blog out of them.
So I just let my console make its noises, the way my neighbors (hopefully) tolerate me occasionally shouting to myself or playing the same old gospel hymn on my guitar for hours late at night. However, in the course of writing this article I learned there’s a rubber piece I can apparently pry off the bottom of my PS4 that might solve the problem, so now I keep turning the console over suspiciously, trying to work up the motivation to permanently dismantle a minor part of an object I need for my job. It probably won’t work, and then I’ll have the problem of the beeps and a random bit of rubber I’ll try to not lose but will inevitably lose anyway. No, I’m happy my PS4 has found itself the enjoyable hobby of chirping like a pet bird, and I’m learning to appreciate the Zen-like acceptance the beeps help me practice.
(Tell me if you’ve found an actual fix for it, though.)