Garmin Edge 540 – child-like noises…is it just me?

Garmin edge 540
Reduce Backlight? Reduce noises more like

Garmin Edge 540 – child-like noises…is it just me?

I’ve been meaning to write this for a month or so as it’s been bugging me.

It seems that the person who poorly designed Garmin’s childlike watch faces on the Forerunner 965 has got a new job. This time they’ve been designing childlike noises for the Edge 540.


The last time I looked, it was 2023. My Apple Watch makes discrete noises or even uses haptics when sounds are inappropriate. My Google Assistant on my Google Home speakers now even makes a single, subtle beep to acknowledge that I’ve turned an accessory on/off in the current room.

Yet Garmin’s sound designer extraordinaire has taken it upon him/herself to add a somewhat retro, 1970s sound to the completion of a ClimbPro Freeride climb. Actually, that’s wrong as my use of the word ‘retro’ should imply an element of coolness or tastefulness. My Edge 540’s sounds have neither of those facets.

I thought at first that I was imagining its awfulness. But there have now been multiple fellow group riders who just laugh when it goes off usually saying “WTF was that“. My response is usually “Oh, it’s just my Garmin. I’m testing it. Just because I have to. I wouldn’t really choose this, honest” – of course, I’m lying when I say that as I have chosen the Edge 540 to be my main bike computer this year :-). I think I also heard GPLAMA make a similar comment

Turning the Device Tones On and Off: Menu > Settings > System.

Badly Imagined

Once you add in beeps for Varia radar alerts, sharp bend warnings, high traffic road warnings, workout target alerts, CIQ alerts, turnaround alerts, reminders to start a ride, adding a lap or being directed to turn you’ll soon be audibly driving yourself crazy. Crazy enough to turn them all off which then kinda defeats the point of some of the truly useful ones.

Clearly, Garmin has to account for the possibility of noisy environments, so alerts need to be loud. My main criticism is that it’s obvious that no one has holistically thought through the audio experience; for that matter, they haven’t thought through the visual and button interface either but that’s another matter entirely.

What Do I want?

Sound themes and display themes/skins would be nice. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

I’ll just take a subtle ‘beep’ for the completion of a ClimbPro Freeride.





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11 thoughts on “Garmin Edge 540 – child-like noises…is it just me?

  1. reason is simple: Garmin doesn’t really invest into ID design nor a UI/sound design, there is no other watch on the market who has 4 (four) different fonts used on the same watch, typical sign that the software engineer has a second job to also make the UI design with the left hand…

    1. It’s certainly possible that they have someone filling the role of an (audio) designer, perhaps they just aren’t very good at it. Or they desperately want to excel in subtlety, but someone higher up insists on these absurd jingles and those below are not good at making their point.

      But I’m not disagreeing, not at all! The company just isn’t set up to package other people’s technology and manufacturing in a nice surface, their field, what they sold-identify with, is development and manufacturing, with user interaction design just as a necessity. Compared to them, Hammerhead and Wahoo are barely more than design agencies that subcontact everything else.

  2. I use navigation on my watch quite a lot and my previous watch (a forerunner 935) and my current watch (a forerunner 965) beeped and vibrated when it’s time to take a turn. All fine.

    Recently I followed a course on my ordinairy bike and things became ridiculous. The sound my watch started to make.. it’s embarrassing. Really.

    I’m thinking about buying a bike navigation device (navigating with the amoled screen on my 965 is so annoying compared to my old watch). I could buy a cheap 530 or a newer 540. I think a 530 is fine for me, and now you tell me the 540 makes all this stupid noices, like my watch, it points me more and more towards the 530 (or something that is not garmin, which is very very tempting)

    1. “All these stupid noises” is when you insist on running all these wonky features. If you just want navigation with beeps, you can have it, but then you can’t have live segments, climbpro and so on. If you want to have those features and no silly melodies, you can have it (global sounds off setting), but your navigation will be silent as well.

      What you can’t have, unfortunately, is the occasional audible nav notification together with silent versions of segments/climbpro. (and you can’t have nav beeps without the virtual partner fanfare of shame at the predicted or actual time of arrival). The situation is certainly not as good as it could or should be, but it’s not really all that terrible.

      The frequency of nav beeps, in isolation of all those other noisy features… that’s a topic of its own, it’s simply not that easy to reliably predict from the map graph wether a situation warrants a beep or not. Sometimes there’s really an awful lot, because of some closely knit web of links between bike paths, roundabouts modeled as distinct road segments and so on where the algorithm just can’t relax, other times there’s a super ambiguous situation in reality but on the map it looks as if the straight path that does not mandate a prompt would be super obvious. The implementation could certainly be better (no, I don’t need Garmin to tell me to keep climbing those hairpins if there are a few meters of dirt road going straight on), but it’s not as if they weren’t trying. Plenty of situations where a prompt has been suppressed that would have actually been helpful.

    2. there are at least three issues
      1. the awful childlike noise at the end of climbpro freeride – just change it please Mr Garmin
      2. the whole cacophony of noises from a multitude of features – that’s where i think we need some sort of audio theme or more sound-selective abilities
      3. speaker capability – I guess it’s quite likely that garmin has chosen a 1970s-standard speaker that is only capable of a limited range of tones. Apple Watch, for example, is capable of audio playback and clearly in a different league. wahoo is also somewhat limited but it seems to have managed a superior, streamlied way of making alerts both audibly and with the LEDs and other on-screen aids.

      yes the issues of navigation are many. however knowing when and where to make a noise is a separate issue to the noise/haptic emitted . and what I am trying to highlight here is that the noises are generally awful/old fashioned/simplistic

  3. Totally agree this stupid chime after finishing a climb is THE most annoying thing ever!! it makes me wonder does Garmin have anyone who actually RIDES a bike?

    1. Never heard that thing, running a 1030+ and avoiding climbpro for other reasons: on a scale of 0 to “as silly as the live segment finish chime”, how bad is it? (or in units of “as silly as the finished faster than virtual partner chime”? not sure if they are the same or different)

      It all wouldn’t matter if they had some fine grained audio on/off settings, then only reviewers and first time users would care.

  4. As if on command, Garmin just dropped Public Beta 18.15 with this as the very first change log: ClimbPro- Restored simple tone for climb complete

    1. thank you!!!
      both to you pointing it out and to garmin for doing it
      I won’t take the credit for Garmin seeing the light and sacking the 7-year old sound designer. s/he should be in school anyway

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