1 2 Previous Next 20 Replies Latest reply: Feb 26, 2014 7:59 PM by diveactive
Niall Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)

Hello all,

  Just a bit of advice here - to anyone who has noticed that their MacBook pro has a sound output bias toward the right hand side. It's a design flaw. Someone thought it was a good idea to have a third speaker in the machine, which Apple laughably calles a 'Sub-Woofer' which it isn't. What it is, is a midrange speaker, so as it is placed toward the right, it upsets the stereo image dramatically. There is bugger-all you can do about this, the panning to the left solution offered by Apple is a joke. Or should be a joke.


Jony Ives design skills are overrated, to say the least.


This design flaw is explained in this article -



MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7), 2.0Ghz Quad i7
  • 1. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)

    Much of what you say is true, but it doesn't much matter to anyone who is interested to listening to music from a MBP. Anyone who really wants to do that will use external speakers or headphones, because the idea that the built-in speakers in any notebook computer are fit to listen to is laughable.

  • 2. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Niall Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)

    Umm - have to disagree with you there - this is not just about 'listening to music' although even then it's annoying. The speakers actual sound is pretty good for listining in front of the machine in a quiet environment. I am a sound engineer so i'm quite sensitive to bad sound, and the MacBook Pro is fine, excepting the issue we are discussing here

    I use my Macbook through 75KW PA system, and my home studio, and with headphones, but I also work on video and location recording and STILL want to be able to hear a realistic stereo balance of my mix if I am just playing back on the laptop speakers. I do not want to have to plug speakers or headphones in so that I can check the stereo balance. It's not very good at all to contstantly have to remember that when listening through the built-in speakers that the mix will be all out-of-kilter..

      This is after all called a MacBook PRO so it's aimed at working professionals, and therefore a balanced stereo output should be seen as a necessary feature, not something to be bodged by pulling your balance control to the left (which still doesn't do the trick anyway).

  • 3. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    You're a professional sound engineer and you're using the MacBook's speakers to check your stereo balance!!!!????

  • 4. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Niall Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)

    yep - you seem to be missing the point completely. But for your information, and as you don't seem to beleive me the first time around, I have produced seven albums and six concert DVDs, and mixed around 3,000 live events in about thirty-five different countries over the last couple of decades, so you could say I'm a professional sound engineer, yes. My clients who fly me in and put me up in hotels seem to think so, anyway. So for your information, you can use two tin cans and some string if you so wish - you will still hear what the balance is on a voice track if both tin cans are the same size - can you comprehend that?

    Not being able to check the stereo balance of your mix on the MacBook Pro's built-in speakers without pulling out headphones to do it is a pain in the toosh. If it doesn't bother you, that's your opinion - so great, go ahead and enjoy yer wonky sound with your head tilted over to one side.

  • 5. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Niall Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)

    Furthermore, Zyriab, if you knew anything about production, or wished to find out, you would quickly be aware that pro engineers commonly check their mix on all sorts of outputs, from the crappiest set of computer speakers to the most expensive. I personally like to mix on 3 Watt ClassA Sony speakers and check my mix on Barefoots - there's about a 6000% difference in the price of these but they both have a purpose.

  • 6. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    I don't have wonky sound with my head tilted over to one side!  I check my stereo balance on a decent pair of studio monitors or a good pair of headphones.  I concede that it's a good idea to check the mix on a variety of different speaker systems, including the ones on a MBP, but by the time I'm doing that I already have a provisional mix decided on using studio monitors, and the stereo balance is most definitely already decided on.  I would not dream of making final decisions regarding either mix or stereo balance using the built-in speakers on a laptop.  Oh, and yes, I can comprehend everything you wrote - please don't be so condescending!

  • 7. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    As you say in the post that overlapped my last one, poorer quality speakers are for checking a mix, not deciding on it!  I think you're overbearingly condescending, I'm outa here so don't bother replying!

  • 8. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Niall Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)

    You're the only person being condescending here, and also putting words in my mouth - I never ONCE said I was checking a final mix on a bleeding laptop as my only option. I have no idea why anyone involved with audio, like yourself, would seek to defend this poor design choice, and I couldn't care less about your work flow, I'm not interested. So as you seem to be sailing your own boat where you want it without actually reading anything properly, kindly cease and desist.

  • 9. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Niall Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)

    I'll reply to whatever I like, thanks very much for nothing at all.

  • 10. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    Maxachamil Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Well aaaaanyway... Thanks for the information... I thought that maybe one of my speakers weren't playing anything on the left but now I know! Much appreciated. And plus, the other posters are douchebags that couldn't just say thank you for the info but had to try and prove how "smart" they are. Haha

  • 11. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    willheim1114 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    You are so entirely wrong. I am a professional composer. I check my mixes on many different reference speakers, including my 2006 MBP. The 2010 MBP I just picked up, the stereo field is so out of wack I can't even work on the thing, and listening to music only coming out of the right side is SO annoying, even more annoying than your woefully ignorant and incessant banter.


    I am fine listening to tinny speakers, I like to hear how my mixes translate to them. But listening to an out of phase, wildly right heavy mix is of no use to me.


    Based on my product line research the only MBP that fixes and addresses this egregious and extremely disappointing design flaw is the MBP with the retina display, which has new speakers.


    If course I am reading that these MBP are having trouble with the video cards required to drive the display.


    I guess you would say that anyone with a laptop shouldn't be worried about how it looks, just plug it into a hi def monitor?

  • 12. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    willheim1114 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Niall, I know, I know. I am a professional as well. You can see my comment to the other moron explainging why we shouldbn't be using the speakers on a laptop. I have been using my 2006 MBP, and like you I check mixes on bigs, smalls and computers to see how they translate. THese people who don't understand it are just consumers. Amazing how they can get so self-righteous about something they obviosusly know nothign about.


    This design flaw, which I only just found out about, is just the latest in a series of disappointments for me as mac turns into a mass merchandise company that makes hand held gadgets for consumers at the expense of supporting the creative professionals, like myself, who have been using their products for 20 years.


    I have an i7 PC that I use for a donkey in my rig with VEP, it just streams samples - it is so fast and so solid, when digital performer comes out in 64 bit for windows  I might just be done with Apple after 20 plus years of relying on their products to get the job done.


    Egregious design flaw that they let go on for years.


    I can't listen to mixes on this thing, I would rather have tinnier sound and a balanced stereo field.


    And if I want hi fi, I monitor through my K&H 0300's.

  • 13. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    sheffi Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I would like to ask a question about true sound stereo surround in a Auditorium and at Home


    Lets say I go to a concert I listen to some classical peice with Piano and Obo. I sit in the middle of the Auditorium and there is a Mic hanging above in the front part of the stage about 3 metres and on stage the Piano is behind and the Obo ist is in front, they both have a mic each ,but the sound wall is clear and all around and there are speakers around ,actually you can hear the sound in the lobby so that people can know that music is playing.


    As I was listening I stared to move around because I wanted to know which mic was connected to which channel and where the Piano was loudest the Piano and Obo was in the centre so I wondered how did they set up the sound was it surround or stereo?


    If we had them apart left and right and going into left and right channels I guess both sides of the Auditorium would sound different.


    but for the sake of experiment do that and they record this concert on Digital CD and get a copy and I listen to it on a stereo system at home ,How would I set up the speakers so I listen to the Piano on my left and Obo on my right as I listened to it at the Auditorium.


    They do not explain on the media which mic they used on what instruments and one should be able to listen to such and such instruments on such and such speakers or does the all set up come out exactly

  • 14. Re: Unbalanced Stereo Sound on MacBook Pro
    webrian Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I am finding that this problem persists even with headphones/earphones. 


    I own four sets of earphones.  All four sets work just fine with my iPhone and iPads. But when I plug in to my MacBook Pro with Retina display, there is a definite and irritating bias to the right-side.  I paid nearly $3000 for this machine and I listen to tons of music.


    This is a huge setback.  I wish there was something, anything to be done about it.

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