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Macbook Pro Speakers are built wrong

79177 Views 103 Replies Latest reply: Aug 2, 2012 9:00 PM by willheim1114 RSS
  • Andrew Wolczyk Level 5 Level 5 (5,205 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 20, 2010 5:59 PM (in response to Mark Spencer2)
    I tried a 15" at the Apple store today and definitely noticed the right side was much louder. I adjusted the balance about half way to the left and it sounded fine. Am I missing something or is there a problem with doing that?
    Macbook Pro 13", Mac Pro 2.8 Quad, Mac OS X (10.6.1)
  • Rod Hagen Level 7 Level 7 (31,985 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 20, 2010 6:27 PM (in response to Mark Spencer2)
    My bet, Mark, is that Apple had a choice between sticking with the old "balanced" two speaker system, or squeezing in a "woofer" to extend the low freq response a bit, but lacked the room to do so centrally. I can understand the decision. After all the tinniness of the two little speakers alone in previous models is pretty awful, and the "separation" from two speakers a few inches apart is non existent if you are out of "headphone" range from the computer anyway. I suspect most "regular" users are prepared to sacrifice a bit of spacial accuracy for a bit more bass.

    I've just done a "listening comparison" , using the same recording of Handel's Water Music on my current MBP 13 and my older "subwooferless" MBP 15 Santa Rosa played through the computers' own speakers.

    They both sound tinny. The extent of stereo separation is pretty much zilch on either (even when sitting right at the keyboard). The MBP13" provides a bit more detail, and comes across as a little "cleaner". Both are awful "bright". I can't actually tell much difference between the bass output of the two, which I guess means that if they hadn't added the "sub woofer" the unibody might be even tinnier than the old MBP15!

    I knew there was a reason why I always carry around a decent set of headphones when I'm away, and have the computer plugged in to a Hi Fi system when I'm at home!

    Cheers

    Rod
    MBP 13"2.26, MBP15"2.2, iMacG520"RevB , MB2CD, MBCD, ,PM5400/180 & earlier, Mac OS X (10.6.2), 7 chooks, 2 dogs, 2 daughters, 1 pear tree, 0 partridges, itinerant bats, magpie
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 20, 2010 7:05 PM (in response to Mark Spencer2)
    Hi, Mark. Being almost entirely clueless about audio engineering myself, I have a hard time imagining what use an audio professional could possibly have for the built-in speakers in any notebook computer. So I'll have to take your word that they have some sort of potential value to you, sufficient to make the ones in your MBP disappointing. I'm not disappointed in mine, though: I didn't expect anything of them, and they match my expectations apart from the imbalance issue, which for me is a non-issue because I never use them. That isn't because I have an audiophile sound system to connect my MBP to — far from it. I have a $60 set of amplified computer speakers with a little subwoofer, and a $40 set of headphones for private listeing. Each sounds like a million bucks compared to the MBP's speakers (especially the phones), and they suit me fine for listening to MP3s on iTunes in my home office. A nice surround-sound system in our TV room puts them deep in the shade, of course, but my MBP is very rarely connected to that.

    So while you have to wonder how Apple thought it could get away with such an unbalanced speaker design in the MBP, one doesn't need to be rolling in dough to bypass the speakers and have a tolerable listening experience, particularly if one is just listening to MP3s. I've imported enough of my CDs into iTunes to know how badly some music suffers from MP3 compression, and there wouldn't be much point in listening to some of the resulting files on a really good audio system: it would just highlight their obvious faults. I suspect the average iTunes user would be pleased enough with my inexpensive speakers or headphones.
    15" MBP unibody 2.4GHz/4G/250G; TiBook 1GHz/1G/120G; PTProG3 500MHz/768M/160G, Mac OS X (10.5.8), film and flatbed scanners, projector, graphics tablet, laser and photo printers
  • jwan584 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 19, 2010 10:40 PM (in response to Chris8535)
    Hi Guys,

    I just got a new 15" MBP from the April 2010 refresh. The issue described in this thread is still here. Right side louder and deeper than the left.

    I noticed it on YouTube songs within 10 seconds and I am not a sound engineer.

    Quite disappointing indeed.

    My workaround is to shift the audio balance in System Preference a few notches left.
    15" MBP (April 2010), Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • Corei5 15\ Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 4, 2010 3:54 AM (in response to jwan584)
    i also just bought the same model as jwan and having the same issues. most definitely. went some websites selling macbook parts and confirm the left exists as a standalone while the right comes with a subwoofer.
    Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • bluztoo Level 1 Level 1 (75 points)
    It is real. Discovered it on my own almost immediately. Had just moved down from a 17 inch, which I miss, although the new 15 is most excellent. I like the tradeoff from a weight standpoint and with the anti-glare and high-res screen the smaller screen doesn't disappoint at all. The speaker thing ***** though. I really could use the 17, and it was very usable. The sound on the new 15's are unbalanced and I really won't use the internals much because of it.
    Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.6)
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 9, 2010 11:30 AM (in response to Chris8535)
    They're probably smart enough to know that no one who cares about sound quality would use the internal speakers even if they were balanced. And to realize that it isn't worth undertaking a major overhaul of the MBP's internal architecture just to solve such a trivial problem.
    15" '08 UMBP 2.4GHz/4G/250G; TiBook 1GHz/1G/120G, Mac OS X (10.5.8), iTouch 32G, scanners, projector, graphics tabet, laser and photo printers
  • Z-Tuned Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 9, 2010 2:53 PM (in response to Chris8535)
    Well, I have a 2010 15'' i7 MBP and unfortunately I'm experiencing the same speaker bias issue as well. The right speaker is significantly louder than the left, and makes it seem like the audio is only coming out of the right side (even though if you put your ear up to the left speaker, there is audio coming out of it).

    It's pretty unfortunate that Apple decided to ignore this issue for the 2010 refresh despite the criticism.
    2010 MBP 15'' i7, Mac OS X (10.6.3), Glossy Hi-Res 500GB 7000 RPM
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 9, 2010 3:45 PM (in response to Z-Tuned)
    If you had created a product that was a runaway success in spite of a trivial design flaw that fewer than 50 customers (out of many hundreds of thousands) had complained about in 16 months, you might not be eager to subject the product to a total redesign for the sake of correcting that flaw.
    15" '08 UMBP 2.4GHz/4G/250G; TiBook 1GHz/1G/120G, Mac OS X (10.5.8), iTouch 32G, scanners, projector, graphics tabet, laser and photo printers
  • Z-Tuned Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 9, 2010 7:09 PM (in response to eww)
    eww - Considering there are well over 13,000 views of this thread, I wouldn't exactly call this problem "trivial". Obviously that goes to show that just because there are only 50 replies or so does not mean only 50 customers are annoyed with this flaw.
    2010 MBP 15'' i7, Mac OS X (10.6.3), Glossy Hi-Res 500GB 7000 RPM
  • DocJekl Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 10, 2010 2:47 AM (in response to Chris8535)
    I bought my 15" MBP in Jan 2009 and noticed a mild imbalance, which got worse recently. The Apple store replaced my speakers and it's back to the old mild imbalance, which still *****. But at least now the cymbals in the left channel in a particular old jazz recording are back.
    MacBook Pro 15" unibody, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 10, 2010 11:09 AM (in response to Z-Tuned)
    Threads with provocative titles (like this one) always get lots of views, many of them from folks who don't share the same concern. Problems that are widely shared and widely resented get lots of views and lots of aggrieved "me too!" posts. This one has attracted relatively few of those compared with some threads here.
    15" '08 UMBP 2.4GHz/4G/250G; TiBook 1GHz/1G/120G, Mac OS X (10.5.8), iTouch 32G, scanners, projector, graphics tabet, laser and photo printers
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 10, 2010 11:22 AM (in response to Chris8535)
    I haven't taken offense, Chris. I just think it's worth pointing out that Apple has had to balance the value of resolving this flaw (and I acknowledge that it's a flaw) against the cost of completely re-engineering what has been an extremely successful product in spite of the flaw. If you look at take-apart diagrams or photos of the machine, it becomes readily apparent that the "subwoofer" (such as it is) couldn't be centered without redesigning the logic board. Apple has evidently decided not to do that just for the sake of resolving the speaker imperfection -- a decision that, just as evidently, leaves most users unperturbed. Unfortunately for you and a few others, Apple is more influenced by the silence of a huge majority than by the complaints of a vocal but tiny minority of users.
    15" '08 UMBP 2.4GHz/4G/250G; TiBook 1GHz/1G/120G, Mac OS X (10.5.8), iTouch 32G, scanners, projector, graphics tabet, laser and photo printers

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