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MacBook Speakers Crackling? 14 Best Ways to Fix Them

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Last updated: August 26, 2023

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Let’s talk about something we’ve all experienced at some point – that unsettling crackling noise from your Mac’s speakers. It’s like having your favorite song interrupted by a bowl of popping popcorn. Annoying, right? I get it, so I’m here to help you ensure your MacBook’s sound is as smooth as a freshly brewed latte.

I’ve put together 14 easy-to-follow fixes that can help you get back to enjoying your favorite tunes or binge-watching Netflix without any more unwanted “special effects.” Let’s dive in to fix your MacBook speakers crackling sound and get them sounding like they should!

Why Are My Macbook Speakers Crackling?

Crackling or popping noises coming from your MacBook speakers can be quite frustrating, especially if you’re trying to listen to music, watch a movie, or engage in a video call. There are several potential reasons for this issue, and here are some of the most common ones:

  • 🔄 Software Issues: Sometimes, the crackling noise can be due to software-related issues such as conflicts between applications, outdated software, or incorrect audio settings.
  • 🎵 Audio Sample Rate Mismatch: Crackling noises can occur when there is a mismatch in the audio sample rates between different applications or external devices.
  • ⚡️ Interference: Electronic interference from other devices can sometimes cause crackling sounds in your MacBook’s speakers.
  • 🔊 Overdriven Speakers: When the volume is set too high, especially in certain frequencies, it can overdrive the speakers and cause them to crackle.
  • 🛠️ Hardware Problems: If the crackling persists regardless of software solutions, it’s possible that your MacBook speakers are damaged or defective.
  • 🧹 Dirt and Debris: Accumulation of dust, dirt, or other small debris inside the speaker grills can affect the sound quality and lead to crackling noises.
  • 💻 CPU Overload: When the CPU is under heavy load and struggling to keep up with all the tasks it has to handle, it can sometimes cause audio glitches and crackling sounds.
  • 📊 Buffer Size Issue: In certain situations, the buffer size for your sound card might be set too low, which can result in crackling sounds.

It’s essential to identify the root cause of the issue to apply the appropriate fix. You might be able to solve the problem with some simple troubleshooting steps, or you may need to contact Apple support if it’s a hardware issue.

How to Fix Crackling Speakers on a Macbook

If you’re struggling with crackling speakers on your MacBook, it can be frustrating. Luckily, there are several potential solutions for fixing crackling speakers on your MacBook. Let’s dive in.

1. Lower Your Mac’s Volume

Crackling sounds in your MacBook speakers might occur if the volume is set too high, causing the speakers to be overdriven. Lowering the volume can be an effective and simple way to resolve this issue.

Here’s how to lower your Mac’s volume:

  1. Click the Control Center icon in the menu bar.
click control center in the menu bar
  1. Here, you’ll see a Sound slider, showing the current volume level.
check the volume slider
  1. Click and drag the slider to the left to decrease the volume.
  2. Alternatively, you can use the volume buttons on your MacBook’s keyboard to increase or decrease the volume. You can also mute it using the F10 key.
macbook pro volume settings
  1. Play some audio or video on your MacBook to test if the crackling has stopped.
  2. Keep an eye on the volume level as you use your MacBook, and try to avoid setting the volume too high, especially when using headphones or external speakers.

2. Try Playing Sounds Via a Different App

Crackling or distortion in your MacBook speakers may sometimes be caused by a specific application. To rule out this possibility, it’s a good idea to test your speakers using a different app. You could use apps like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, or any media player you have on your MacBook.

Here’s how to test sounds on different apps on Mac:

  1. Open the application where you noticed the crackling sounds in your speakers.
  2. Play some audio content within the app and pay close attention to the sound quality.
  3. If you hear crackling, make a note of the app’s name.
  4. Now, open a different app, play some audio content in the new app, and listen carefully to the sound quality.
  5. Compare the sound quality between the two apps to determine whether the crackling is exclusive to the original app.
  6. If you’ve identified an app with crackling sounds, open it and go to its settings. Adjust or disable any settings contributing to the crackling.
  7. If you still experience crackling sounds in the specific app, check for any available updates.
  8. If there are no updates or if updating doesn’t help, try uninstalling and reinstalling the app. This might resolve any corruption or issues within the app that could be causing the crackling.

3. Close Unnecessary Processes

Closing unnecessary processes can help free up system resources and reduce CPU overload, which could be causing crackling sounds in your MacBook speakers. Follow these steps to close any unneeded processes:

  1. Launch Finder, click the Applications tab, and open the Utilities folder.
click applications in finder and open utilities
  1. Locate and open the Activity Monitor application.
open activity monitor in utilities
  1. In the Activity Monitor window, click the CPU tab.
click the cpu tab in activity monitor
  1. Look at the % CPU column to identify processes using a significant amount of CPU power. You can click the % CPU header to sort the processes by CPU usage in descending order.
cpu percentage in activity monitor
  1. Select a process with high CPU usage from the list.
  2. In the bottom pane of the Activity Monitor window, you’ll see additional information about the selected process.
cpu usage in activity monitor
  1. Once you’ve identified processes consuming a lot of CPU power and impacting performance, it’s time to close them.
  2. Select the process you want to close in the list. Click the X icon in the top toolbar of the Activity Monitor window.
click x in the top bar to close a program
  1. In the pop-up window that appears, click Quit or Force Quit if the process is unresponsive.
click quit on the pop up
  1. Repeat this process for any other resource-intensive processes you’ve identified.
  2. After closing the unnecessary processes, play audio on your MacBook. Listen carefully to the sound quality to see if the crackling has stopped or decreased.

Be cautious when closing processes in the Activity Monitor. Some processes are essential for your MacBook to function correctly. Only close processes that you are sure are unnecessary or safe to close. If you’re unsure about a process, it’s better to leave it alone.

4. Let Your Mac Cool Down

Overheating can cause a range of issues with your MacBook, including crackling or distorted sounds in the speakers. Allowing your Mac to cool down can help resolve these issues.

Here’s how to prevent your Mac from overheating and let it cool down:

  1. Close any apps that are known to be resource-intensive or that have high CPU usage. Examples include video editing software, large spreadsheet applications, or 3D rendering software.
  2. If you have multiple browser tabs open, especially those with media content or heavy animations, close the ones you don’t need.
  3. Disconnect any external devices from your MacBook, such as USB drives, external displays, or printers.
  4. Shut down your Mac and if it is plugged into a power source, disconnect the power adapter. Running on battery power can help reduce heat generation.
  5. Leave your MacBook off for at least 10-15 minutes to allow it to cool down.
  6. Place your MacBook on a hard, flat surface with good airflow. Avoid using it on soft surfaces like beds or couches, as they can block the cooling vents.
  7. After letting it cool down, turn your MacBook back on by pressing the power button.
press and hold the power button on your mac
  1. Wait for it to start up and log in as usual. Play some audio content to see if the crackling has stopped or improved.

5. Restart Your MacBook

Restarting your MacBook can help resolve many issues, including crackling sounds in the speakers. It’s a simple and effective troubleshooting step that can clear temporary files, free up memory, and reset hardware configurations.

Here’s how to restart your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Restart from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. Your MacBook will shut down and start back up automatically. Play some audio or video content to see if the crackling has stopped.

6. Adjust Your Sound Settings

Adjusting your sound settings can help address crackling or distortion in your MacBook speakers. Here’s how to make some of these adjustments:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click the Sound tab. This will open the Sound settings panel.
click sound
  1. In the Sound settings panel, look for the Output volume slider under the Output tab.
output volume slider by dragging it
  1. Move the slider to the left to reduce the volume or to the right to increase it. Reducing the volume can minimize crackling or distortion, especially if the speakers are being overdriven.
  2. In the same Output tab, look for the Balance slider. Make sure the slider is centered to ensure equal sound output from both the left and right speakers.
balance slider in sound settings
  1. Also, make sure the correct output device is selected. If you want to use your MacBook built-in speakers, select MacBook Speakers.
select the output tab
  1. After making adjustments to your sound settings, play some audio on your MacBook. Listen carefully to the sound quality to see if the crackling has stopped or improved.

7. Change the Sample Rate of Your Audio Device

Changing the sample rate of your audio device can sometimes help resolve crackling or distortion in your MacBook speakers. The sample rate refers to the number of samples per second that are used to digitally represent audio.

Here’s how to change sample rate of your audio device on Mac:

  1. Go to the Applications folder on your MacBook and open the Utilities folder.
click applications in finder and open utilities
  1. Locate and open the Audio MIDI Setup application.
open the audio midi setup application
  1. In the Audio MIDI Setup window, click the audio device you want to configure. If you’re using your MacBook built-in speakers, select MacBook Speakers.
in the audio midi setup window select macbook speakers
  1. In the main panel, you will see the Format dropdown menu.
in the main panel select the format dropdown menu
  1. Click the dropdown menu to see the available sample rates.
  2. Select a different sample rate from the list. Common sample rates include 44100.0 Hz (CD quality) and 48000.0 Hz (DVD quality).
select a different sample rate from the list
  1. Try different sample rates to see which one works best for your audio device.
  2. After changing the sample rate, play audio on your MacBook to see if the crackling or distortion has stopped.

8. Clean Your Speaker

Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on and inside your MacBook speakers over time, causing sound quality issues like crackling. Regularly cleaning your speakers can help maintain optimal sound quality. Here’s how to clean your Mac’s speakers:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Gather your cleaning materials, such as a soft, lint-free cloth, a can of compressed air with a straw attachment, and a soft-bristled brush. Do not use liquids or cleaning agents, as they can damage your MacBook.
  2. Gently wipe the speaker grilles on your MacBook with the soft, lint-free cloth and remove visible dust or debris from the surface.
  3. Hold the can of compressed air upright and attach the straw to the nozzle.
  4. Gently blow air into the speaker grilles, holding the can about an inch away from the surface.
  5. Use short bursts of air to dislodge any dust or debris inside the speakers. Be careful not to tilt the can or shake it excessively, as this can cause liquid propellant to spray out.
  6. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush away any remaining debris from the speaker grilles.
  7. Turn on your MacBook and play music to test the sound quality to see if the crackling or distortion has improved.

    9. Update macOS to the Latest Version

    Keeping your macOS updated to the latest version can help resolve many issues, including crackling or distorted sounds in your MacBook Pro speakers. Software updates often include bug fixes, improvements, and new features that can enhance your system’s performance.

    Here’s how to update your macOS:

    1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
    click the apple icon and select system settings
    1. Click General and select Software Update.
    click general and select software update
    1. Install any available updates by clicking the Update Now button.
    click the update now button

    10. Turn Off User Interface Sound Effects

    The sound effects that play when you perform certain actions on your MacBook, such as emptying the trash or taking a screenshot, can sometimes cause crackling or distortion in the speakers. Turning off these user interface sound effects can help resolve the issue. Here’s how:

    1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
    click the apple icon and select system settings
    1. In the System Settings window, click the Sound tab.
    click sound
    1. In the Sound Effects section, toggle off the Play user interface sound effects switch.
    toggle off the play user interface sound effects switch
    1. This will disable sound effects for actions like emptying the Bin or moving files to folders.
    2. In the same Sound Effects section, look for the Alert volume slider.
    look for the alert volume slider
    1. Move the slider to the left to reduce the alert volume or all the way to the left to mute alert sounds. Lowering the alert volume can reduce the likelihood of crackling when system alert sounds play.

    11. Kill Core Audio to Restore Sound

    Core Audio is the audio processing framework in macOS that handles sound input, output, and processing. Sometimes, Core Audio can get stuck or encounter issues, leading to problems like crackling speakers. Killing and restarting the Core Audio process can help resolve these issues.

    Here’s how to kill Core Audio to restore sound on Mac:

    1. Go to the Applications folder and open Utilities.
    click applications in finder and open utilities
    1. Locate and open the Terminal application.
    launch terminal from utilities
    1. In the Terminal window, type the following command and press Enter:
    sudo killall coreaudiod
    in the terminal window type the following command and press enter
    1. Enter your password.
    2. When you terminate the coreaudiod process, it should automatically reboot itself, and your sound should begin to function once again.
    3. If you’re experiencing no audio whatsoever, or if your speakers are still silent after executing the earlier command, you may need to manually restart Core Audio. You can do this by entering the following command in the Terminal:
    sudo launchctl stop com.apple.coreaudiod && sudo launchctl start com.apple.audio.coreaudiod

    12. Reset the NVRAM/PRAM

    NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) and PRAM (Parameter RAM) are small areas of memory your MacBook uses to store certain settings and access them quickly. Resetting the NVRAM/PRAM can resolve various issues, including crackling or distorted sounds in your speakers.

    Here’s how to reset NVRAM/PRAM on your Mac:

    1. Turn off your Mac.
    2. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
    macbook air touch id
    1. Press and hold the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys simultaneously on your Mac’s keyboard before the gray screen appears.
    macbook air option command p r keys
    1. Keep holding the keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime twice. If you have a Mac with the T2 Security Chip, keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
    2. Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.

    13. Restart Mac in Safe Mode

    Starting your Mac in Safe Mode can troubleshoot various issues, including crackling or distorted sounds in your speakers. Safe Mode performs a disk check, loads only essential kernel extensions, and disables third-party software causing problems.

    Here’s how to boot your Mac in Safe Mode:

    Apple Silicon Macs

    1. Click the Apple icon and choose Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
    click the apple icon and select shut down
    1. Wait for your Mac to shut down completely, and press the Power buttonto turn it on.
    macbook air touch id
    1. Keep holding the Power button until you see the Loading startup options screen.
    loading startup options screen on mac
    1. Select a volume from the options.
    select a volume
    1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
    macbook air shift key
    1. Your Mac will restart automatically, and you will see Safe Boot in the menu bar when the login screen appears.
    safe boot mode on mac

    Intel-Based Macs

    1. Restart or turn on your Mac and press and hold the Shift ⇧ key immediately.
    macbook air shift key
    1. Keep holding the Shift ⇧ key until you see the login screen.
    2. Release the Shift ⇧ key and log in to your Mac.
    3. You may be asked to log in again.
    4. You’ll see Safe Boot in the menu bar on your first or second login window.
    safe boot mode on mac

    14. Run Apple Diagnostics on Your Mac

    Apple Diagnostics is a tool built into every Mac that can test your computer’s hardware for issues, including those that might be causing crackling or distorted sounds in your speakers.

    Here’s how to run Apple Diagnostics on Mac:

    Apple Silicon Mac

    1. Disconnect all peripheral devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
    2. Power off your Mac.
    3. Power on your Mac and continue holding the power button until the startup options screen with the Options icon appears.
    startup options screen
    1. Press the Command ⌘ + D keys.
    Press the Command D keys

    Intel-Based Mac

    1. Disconnect all external devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
    2. Shut down your Mac from the Apple menu.
    Shut down your Mac from the Apple menu
    1. Press the power button and immediately press and hold the D key on your keyboard until a list of languages appears.
    Press the power button and D
    1. Select a language, and Apple Diagnostics will start automatically.
    select a language touse apple diagnostics
    1. You’ll see a report listing any issues detected when the test completes. If you see an error message or reference code, note it and contact Apple Support or an authorized Apple service provider for further assistance.
    report listing any issues detected
    1. Then, click Restart or Shut Down.
    click Restart or Shut Down

    Amplify Your Tunes to the Maximum

    Regular maintenance and updates for your MacBook can prevent audio issues, ensuring you can enjoy clear and uninterrupted sound. If the problem persists despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from Apple Support or an authorized service provider.

    Here are some more tips:

    • If you have no sound in MacBook, you should try resetting your sound settings and checking volume level.
    • If your Mac volume is low, check the volume settings, clean the audio port, or use external speakers.
    • Sometimes, you’re unable to listen to the audio because your MacBook fan is so loud. So, fix the fan instead of volume settings.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Why are my MacBook speakers crackling?

      Your MacBook speakers may be crackling due to software conflicts, hardware issues, high volume levels, or even dust in the speakers. Addressing these factors with troubleshooting steps like lowering volume, closing unnecessary processes, updating macOS, or cleaning your speakers can help resolve the crackling and improve your listening experience.

    2. Can I fix the crackling sound in my MacBook speakers myself?

      Yes, you can fix the crackling sound in your MacBook speakers yourself. You can try to resolve the issue by lowering the volume, changing the audio output, closing unnecessary processes, restarting your MacBook, or updating your macOS. However, if the problem persists despite trying these steps, it may be time to seek professional assistance.

    3. Is it safe to use my MacBook if the speakers are crackling?

      Yes, it’s generally safe to use your MacBook if the speakers are crackling. However, persistent crackling may indicate an underlying issue, such as software conflicts or hardware problems. To avoid further complications or potential damage to your speakers, it’s essential to address the problem by following recommended troubleshooting steps or seeking professional assistance.

    Hashir Ibrahim

    Author

    I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

    Ojash

    Reviewer

    Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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