Help my MacBook make sound again!
November 8, 2008 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Possible solution to getting sound back on my MacBook?

I have an original white MacBook, Core Duo 2 ghz. The sound card on the logic board died awhile ago, and I have yet to get it fixed. It is out of warranty, and the people at the Apple store have informed me that it will cost $250 to get it fixed through Apple. I was hoping there was a way around spending $250 on an older laptop I might replace fairly soon.

My real question is, if I were to buy an external sound device, that would go through USB or FireWire, would that solve my problem of no audio input/output without needing to repair the internal onboard sound card? Also, if this is a plausible solution to my problem, any recommendations on an external device that works well with OSX (Leopard, if that matters) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
posted by zacharyseibert to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Best answer: External sound modules work really, really well. Usually they're better than the sound built into a laptop.

But just to correct a possible misunderstanding here: there isn't any "sound card" in a MacBook. The sound electronics is part of the mother board chipset, and the reason it would cost $250 to fix is that they'd have to replace the mother board.

The best external modules are USB2, and they usually won't work with USB 1.1 ports on notebooks. (That's because they want to draw 500 milliamps and USB 1.1 ports on notebooks are usually limited to 100 milliamps.)

So you'll need to find out if your MacBook has an honest USB 2 port. If not, you'd have to put a powered USB hub in between the MacBook and the USB sound module.

I'm a PC owner, and I use an ASUS Xonar external USB sound module. I love it -- but there aren't any Mac drivers for it. But surely there must be something else that is supported.
posted by Class Goat at 8:28 PM on November 8, 2008

I use the M-Audio Firewire Audiophile for better quality sound out of my Mac (Leopard). Skip the logic board replacement and get a USB or firewire device.
posted by reeddavid at 1:32 AM on November 9, 2008

Best answer: I had *exactly* the same problem, with an original Core duo macbook as well. Well, in my case, the speakers would still work, but not the headphones. My solution was to go to and order a USB Sound Card for $4.38 shipped (or one of the other USB cards there...) It was perfectly serviceable -- not audiophile quality, but OK for most things.

The motherboard completely died a while later, and I got it repaired by Apple. BTW, if you bought it on a credit card that has extended warranty, you may still be covered (as was the case for me)
posted by bsdfish at 1:41 AM on November 9, 2008

Cheap, small, works well: Griffin's USB iMic.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:33 AM on November 9, 2008

FireWire is not available on the recently announced new aluminium MacBooks so I would advise against investing in it if you plan to buy a certain $1200-$1500 laptop from Apple again as your next computer. [long, bitter rant skipped.]

The Griffin iMic indeed works well enough for not too demanding audio tasks.
posted by LanTao at 8:30 AM on November 10, 2008

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