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marco538 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Recently I've bought myself a brand new Mac Book Pro. I'm very happy with my new laptop, but I can't say that about the audio-output quality my new MacBook Pro delivers in combination with my existing external JBL Creature speaker set. In the recent past this speaker set was attached to my old iMac 17" flat, which delivered supreme music quality, but now in combination with my by far more superiour new MacBook Pro, the music sounds very disturbed with a background noise and it seems that the speakers do get to much power/signal - but still the music sounds very far away and the more I pump the volume the worse gets the music output (i.e. more noise is coming out of the speaker) and the right channel seems to have less power (or output). Now I've disconnected my JBL Creature speakers set as from time to time also static ticks are loudly to be heard when just connected whilst I don't do anything with my MacBook Pro.

Can anyone tell me whether this is a problem of the audio-design of the new MacBook Pro (aluminium unibody) and if so is there a solution for to by-pass or overcome this very annoying problem.

Many thanks in advance for your support!

MacBook Pro (aluminum unibody), Mac OS X (10.4.8), 15,4", 2.4 GHz, 2 MB 1067 MHz DDR3, 300 GB S-ATA
  • iVmichael Level 6 Level 6 (13,725 points)
    Have you tried using /Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup to Configure the externals ?

  • lscangus Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    i found the quality is pretty decent on my 17inches MBP.

    May be you need a new pair of speakers><
  • marco538 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Angus,

    Since they don't have this particular problem when they are attached to my old iMac, I don't think this has anything to do with my JBL Creature speakers. Rumors say that this seems to be a problem with a lot of these new aluminium unibody MacBook Pro's, but that Apple denies that there is a problem.

    Kind regars,
  • marco538 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I've used this Audio MIDI set up and found out that the the right channel doesn't get a signal as soon as I've attached my JBL Creature external speaker set to my headphone-out connection. Both speakers produces noice but only the left speaker gets signal when testing the speakers using this Audio MIDO set up tool. When I disconnected the JBL speaker set and tested the left and right audio channels, I found out that left AND right seems to work perfectly normal.

    I read somewhat similar somewhere on a mac rumours website, so I think this must be some kind of technical flaw in the design of the new MacBook Pro.


    Kind regards,
  • Tinlad Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I received my new MacBook Pro this morning (15", 2.66GHz, 4GB, 250GB 7200rpm).

    Have just opened iTunes to play some music and the sound quality is horrible when played back through my Creative Gigaworks T20 speakers. I literally unplugged the speakers from my old MBP into my new one, so the speakers aren't to blame.

    The distortion occurs regardless of whether the audio file is playing in iTunes, QuickTime Player or VLC. It's fine through the in-built speakers.

    I'm no audio expert, but it sounds as though certain frequencies are clipping or something. When the music gets busier it sounds as though there's static over the top. Truly awful.

    I don't know if this is related to the problem you're having, but it sounds as though it might be...

    Hopefully there's an easy software fix, otherwise this laptop's going straight to the nearest Apple Store this weekend.
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Marco and Tinld: You may be able to eliminate or greatly reduce distortion by matching the output signal strength of the MBP to what your speakers' amplifier is expecting to receive. The distortion you hear will be pretty awful regardless of what audio components are in use if either of the following is true: a) the source signal is too weak, and the amplifier must be cranked up high to get a listenable volume from the speakers; or b) the source signal is too strong, so the amplifier is overloaded and sends distortion to the speakers at any volume setting.

    Experiment with different settings of the output volume on the MBP, and see whether you can improve matters that way. (Note: there is no reason to assume that identical volume settings on the new MBP and an older computer will result in the same output signal strength being received at your speakers' amplifier.)

    This may or may not be the solution for either of you, but it's something to look into.
  • Tinlad Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    If I turn the MBP volume down to <40% or so, the distortion more or less disappears. But then I have to crank my speakers up ridiculously high to get a listenable volume level.

    I was really hoping you were right, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. The way only certain frequencies seem to get distorted* has got me thinking that it's an internal problem with the audio hardware.

    Cheers for the suggestion.

    * The best way I can think to describe it is the noise you get when something's touching a speaker, and when certain frequencies are played it causes the object to resonate and buzz. If that makes sense. Only it's a harsh, static sound instead.
  • marco538 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    You wrote: "The distortion occurs regardless of whether the audio file is playing in iTunes, QuickTime Player or VLC. It's fine through the in-built speakers." .... this is exactly the same with my MacBook Pro, so I think Apple is having some trouble now with all new MacBook Pro's coming back with the same problem.

    I will return my MacBook Pro tomorrow to my Apple Dealer, but I don't think they can do much. This seems like a technical (hardware / circuit design problem) problem which has to be solved by Apple itself.

    Thanks for you message this explains a lot to me now.

    Kind regards,
  • Tinlad Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Marco,

    I hope you get a good response at the Apple Store - please report back with their answers!

    I agree with you with regards to it being a hardware/circuitry problem. I was going to see if the problem exists in Windows under Boot Camp if/when I get time, but I'm not very hopeful - I can't imagine it being a software problem because I'd expect far more people to have the same issue.

    Good luck,

  • wavespell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    It is true that the audio quality is a total crap, the audio card seems to be "Realtek" and yes it is ****, I am really ****** cause it is not a cheap computer and I have always used mac too and I am really disapointed. I just can't believe that Apple has passed by the audio quality that is so carefully observed in the ipod products. I have been blessed (no, it is really a curse) with a very sensitive unhuman high frequency hearing and my ears really hurt when I use the earphones with the Macbook notPro and I use it at low volume. You can even hear when the sound system goes off when no sound is played for a little while and the when a sound is played goes on and the noise begins. Also you can hear strange whistles and sissings wich are not continuous but the main amp noise is there. This kind of noise is produced by bad quality, low eficiency amplifiers or other factors I do not know. But I have tested several realtek integrated cards and the all are pure crap or less than crap.

    Ok bye, bye.
  • carl wolf Level 6 Level 6 (14,445 points)
    "This kind of noise is produced by bad quality, low eficiency amplifiers or other factors I do not know."

    Impacted ear wax.
  • Tinlad Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Just an update on my situation:

    I phoned Apple today, and because it's so soon after I bought it they're sending me a replacement out rather than repairing the faulty one. Suits me fine.

    Hopefully the new one will be perfect!


  • behas Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I guess, I have the same problem. When I attach my headphones to my new mac book pro and turn on some music I always get a cracking sound - no matter what application I am using. I have tried it with different headphones, but in turned out the problem must be really in the Mac book audio output.

    For some reason it was OK for a couple of days some weeks ago...but now the cracking sound is back. No idea why...but it must be some hardware problem.

    Does anybody know if there is already an official statement of Apple on this issue? Is this reason enough to return the Mac Book? Or is there some other fix?

  • marco538 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I can tell you that this problem doesn't go away like that, it is a technical flaw somewhere in the motherboard. Probably Apple made a deal with a manufacturer who didn't deliver what he has promised and my guess it has something to do with the sound card/chip which is resided on the motherboard.

    My problem is now solved ... which means that my Apple reseller has replaced the motherboard by a new one. I suggest you should request do that also.

    Kind regards,
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