MBP 2011 Speaker Pop
October 15, 2011 12:15 PM   Subscribe

My MacBook Pro 2011 13" is making an odd noise through the speakers/headphones. Has anybody come across this before?

I recently bought a 13" MacBook Pro, and I've been very happy with it. In the last few days, however, it's started to make an odd and extremely annoying noise through the speakers of headphones (speakers if no headphones in, headphones only if they are in). I can only describe it as 'geiger-counter like', a sort of persistent popping noise that happens regardless of what I'm doing with the computer. It can happen on either of the user accounts I have set up in Lion, but switching directly from one account to another doesn't bring the problem with it; switching back, however, makes it resume immediately. Muting the speakers also stops the noise entirely, which is what makes me think it's something related to the sound and not any other component.

I haven't been able to find anybody else mentioning this exact problem online. Has anybody here come across it before? Is there anything I should do? If I bring it back to the place I bought it (it's still under warranty), are they likely to do much for me?

(If anyone is particularly curious about what exactly it sounds like, I've got a recording of it that I could share.)
posted by anaximander to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Do you use your cellphone nearby? Sometimes interference from cellphone transmissions makes that sound.
posted by procrastination at 12:25 PM on October 15, 2011

I know the sound you're talking about, and this isn't it. I have my cellphone around my computer most of the time, though, and its proximity to the laptop doesn't seem to make any difference. (For example, I've had it right next to my laptop through three reboots - the first two didn't fix the problem, while the third did.)
posted by anaximander at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2011

Does it only happen when you have the power supply plugged in? I have had issues before where there was a grounding problem, and one of the symptoms was strange noise out of the speakers and headphones, but only when the power supply was plugged in. It would work fine when just running off of the battery.
posted by markblasco at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2011

Seconding a grounding issue. Are you by any chance using the two-pronged power supply? If so, try switching to the three-pronged one.
posted by iamscott at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2011

Do you have to turn the volume way down when you plug your headphones in?

If so, then you are hearing electrical noise from the computer. The audio amps are designed for the built-in speakers and volume levels above 50%. To fix this, turn the volume up and use either a fixed attenuator or a variable-resistance volume control.

This is a fairly common problem across portable computers. My late '08 MBP had it, my 15" thunderbook does it, the Dells and Lenovos that I've used do it too.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2011

Re: plugged in vs. battery, it's happened both when the laptop is plugged in and when I have it running off of battery power. I believe it may happen more frequently when it's plugged in, though. I'm also using a 3-prong power supply. If this was the problem, what would you suggest as a solution?

b1tr0t, it seems to happen regardless of what volume I have the speakers/headphones at.
posted by anaximander at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2011

I don't know what it is, but I'd bring it in to Apple immediately. I've been screwed twice by Apple regarding things like this:

- My aluminum Macbook had a loudish fan. It really didn't bother me all that much so I never brought it in for service. It worked fine for 13 months or so and I sold it to someone else explaining it's always been like that since the day I bought it brand new. They brought it in and Apple told them the fan was shot and they'd replace it for free. When they opened it, they told the customer that "the thing the fan connects to" is on the verge of dying... and fixing that is $650. Since they didn't want to pay that, they returned it to me--and since Apple said they wouldn't put a new fan in a machine that has another issue and they loud fan had already been disposed of, the computer no longer had any fan in it, meaning it couldn't be used at all.

- My iPhone 3G grew a tiny hole at the top, right near the headphone jack. The phone functioned perfectly fine. Then it didn't. I brought it in and they said it was a known issue... but that since my warranty was expired there's nothing they can do.

As a result, if my current Apple items exhibit ANY odd behaviour, even if it doesn't affect the function, I bring it in and make them fix it. If your computer is still under warranty, bring it in.
posted by dobbs at 3:37 PM on October 15, 2011

dobbs, that was my thinking as well. I think I'll bring it in as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for the advice, everyone!
posted by anaximander at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2011

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