2011 MacBook Pro: headphone jack still hissing?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Roman2K~, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Roman2K~, Mar 14, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011

    Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    I currently own a MacBook Pro 13.3" (mid 2010) but, as abundantly reported, it emits a hissing noise out the headphone jack while the sound circuitry (DAC and / or amp) is on. On top of that, it makes an annoying, distinct clicking noise when switching on or off.

    From countless forum threads I have read, this problem is caused by the sound circuitry not being properly grounded / isolated from the rest of the components, letting high frequency through the audio output jack.

    That's so annoying that I'm selling my MBP bought last week (used). I am considering one of these new MBP as I'm hopeful Apple will have fixed this issue, at last. I know they're able to produce clean silence since the audio of an early 2006 iMac Intel of mine was perfect.

    So my question to the lucky owners of these new early 2011 MBP is: do you get true silence via the headphone jack? I mean absolutely no hiss, crack, pop, buzz, click, and no difference whether the sound circuitry is on or off -- especially listening through decent, low-impedance (~50-80 ohms) headphones, like a Sennheiser HD 595 or beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (80 ohms)?

  2. Tyrion macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    There's definitely some hissing going on in mine, sorry (17" 2011). It bugs me too - in fact, it's the only thing that bothers me about the machine.
  3. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Wow, how disappointing :rolleyes:. It's the only issue I had with my 2010 MBP too... I guess I will have to wait for Ivy Bridge, or a revised Sandy Bridge-based lineup. Anyway, thank you very much for your feedback!
  4. Tyrion macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    No problem.

    Mind you, this issue was present in every Apple laptop I've owned (2002 Powerbook, 2007 MBP, and now this new MBP). Since it's been like this for so long, I honestly think this is a fundamental design flaw which is unlikely to be patched out with Ivy Bridge :(
  5. themadrussian macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    I get total and utter silence on my 15" i7 2.2 (2011). Tried many sets of headphones, and my studio monitors (KRK Rokit RP6G2) at all volumes and with the sound circuitry on and off. Absolutely no noise. My MacBook (Late 2008, aluminum unibody) always hissed and it annoyed me slightly. My new laptop, however, is dead silent.

    Sorry to hear that Tyrion still has hissing on his 17". Perhaps it's a sporadic issue. :(
  6. ozred macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2011
    Mines completely silent.

    Now if we apply fanboy logic that means there's no way anything could be wrong with yours. To quote them if you don't like it "go buy something else".

    I always thought a comment like that was rude and uncalled for, but I learned it here & see it frequently, so it must be "Approved" by the Great Steve Jobs :)

  7. Tyrion, Mar 14, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011

    Tyrion macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    Welp, guess it's a question of luck then. I do have to add that the hissing is not as pronounced as it was in my 2007 MBP; it's constant and subtle and not noticeable when I actually listen to music. Kind of like tape hiss, if you remember that.

    EDIT: found this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=329183
    Not sure if it's applicable here, but I thought it was interesting. I'm using Klipsch S4 headphones, by the way.

    EDIT 2: I got curious and tested this out very quickly. As I said, the hissing is quite pronounced on my Klipsch Image S4 headphones. I also plugged in my old (like nineties-old) Sony MDR V200s, and lo and behold - no hissing at all (just a quick, barely discernible "pop" after I plugged them in). This leads me to believe that the old thread's explanation about impedance values could still hold true.
  8. NeedMoreVideo macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2011
    Every notebook I've ever owned has had the hissing noise from digital garbage getting onto the sound line. They just can't put enough shielding around the audio outputs to keep it out.

    Just get one of these and keep it on the end of your headphones. Since they are outside the laptop case they don't have as much noise on them as the soundcard inside the laptop.

    By "not as much" I mean so little that it takes an oscilloscope to be able to detect anything other the a nicely-shaped wave coming off of them. Not being less then 5mm under a DC-brushless fan makes a lot of difference in analog electronics.
  9. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    It depends on the sensitivity of the headphones. With my Westone IEMs, the 2011 is quieter than the 2008 unibody but still has a noise floor you can hear. If I plug in less-sensitive Seinns, the 2011 is nearly silent. But with the IEMs, I can't go over 1 click in volume, maybe 2.
  10. leimanpt macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    I have the new macbook pro 13, 2011 and for my disappointment, I can notice the hissing. I used the same in-ear headphones on an HP laptop and the sound is much better i can't ear any hissing.

    So this is not a common problem from laptops. I beginning to think that was a problem with my machine but with all the people complaining in the internet it seems that its useless to change the machine. Anyone found a way to minimize the hissing? without buying hardware!
  11. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Sorry to hear that :(. I'm afraid the only solution is actually buying new hardware. From what I gathered, you will have to bypass the MBP's integrated audio, using an external (USB) sound card (DAC + amplifier). The best one for the price (that is compatible with OS X and getting raving reviews, even on head-fi.org) seems to be the FiiO E7 ($100 or £60 on Amazon.co.uk). It's an appealing DAC + amp since, not only should it get rid of the hiss, but were you to use 80+ ohms headphones in the future, it would make them sound their best.
  12. leimanpt macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    Another solution seems to buy some kind of headphones that will be more "compatible" with the MAC. anyone knows what is the specification necessary to avoid this problem? I read a lot about "high impedance", but i don't understand nothing about it.
    Another question is related to amplifiers, If I connect the audio output to an amplifier do you know if the hissing will be present?
  13. Roman2K~, Mar 29, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011

    Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    That's true. I have 50 ohm headphones (Sennheiser HD 595) and 80 ohm headphones (beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, 80 ohms). With the 80 ohm headphones, the hissing is a lot quieter than on the 50 ohm ones, almost inexistent even, but still present nonetheless. And there's still the clicking whenever the integrated sound card switches on or off.

    So you will have to get headphones with an impedance higher than 80 ohms. Also, the higher the impedance, the harder for the amplifier (integrated in the MBP's sound card) to drive it: at a given volume, 80 ohm headphones will sound quieter than the 50 ohm. So be careful about the maximum impedance headphones that the MBP can sustain. Head-Fi.org forums are a *great* resource for answer(s) to this question.

    An amplifier should be connected to a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter). The MBP's sound card is composed of a DAC and an amplifier. The headphone jack is the integrated amplifier's output, so the signal coming out of it is already amplified. Ideally, you would connect an amplifier to the line-out jack (pure, untouched analog output), which the MBP doesn't provide. I think you would get a distorded signal by connecting an amplifier to the headphone jack.

    Also, even if there was an line-out jack to connect an amplifier to, I think you would still get the hiss as the source (DAC and auxiliary components) would still let the surrounding high frequencies through this line-out.
  14. mtip macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2010
    I tried my friend's 2011 17" mbp with my sony mdr-xd100 headphones (70 Ohm), and there is absolutely no hissing or any other noise whatsoever at any moment.

    With my very low impedance (16 Ohm) jvc in-ear phones though there is loud hissing whenever the sound circuitry is on, plus the usual clicks when it turns on and off.

    It's the same for my own 2010 13" mbp.

    If you want clean sound, the best thing would be a decent external dac (usb or firewire) with a quality headphone amp.
  15. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    @mtip, themadrussian, ozred & TheHoff (the latter 3 whom I forgot earlier, sorry :eek:)
    Thanks a lot for your feedback. Last week I broke down and bought a 2011 15" MacBook Pro (2720QM + 6750M) but haven't had the chance to plug my headphones yet. I will do so by this week end and report back.
  16. ExnomenDei macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2010
    This is no quite true. While impedance plays a role in terms of output of headphones, it cannot be used to describe the exact loudness that a pair of headphones will have.

    Look at Sensitivity figures. http://ultimateears.com/en-us/products/11-pro#specifications My earphones have 119 dB of output at 1 mW. This means they are extremely sensitive and possibly the most sensitive earphones in the world.

    The new Macbooks are noticeably less hissy when in use. My 2009 13" MBP is louder than my 2011 13" MBP. I cannot, however, say there is no noise at all, but I will test asap.
  17. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    OK, I stand corrected :rolleyes:, thank you.

    Great news :). Looking forward to your test results.
  18. leimanpt macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    thanks for your explanation Roman2K~

    This is my first mac computer, and this audio issue let me disappointed, buying a mac i hopped to have a high quality computer! this problem is being reported since 2006 and until now it keeps.

    There are any indication that this could be just a single machine problem? not affecting all the machines? i'm still on the return period and this is my second laptop, the first had a problem with the structure, not sitting stable in any surface.
  19. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    You're very welcome :).

    I'm just as disappointed as you, especially since the early 2006 Intel iMac was so good, I had the same expectations as you from these MBPs. A real shame, that's for sure.

    I think it's a general problem, given the number of people reporting it.
  20. OneMike macrumors 603


    Oct 19, 2005
    no hissing here, goes for bose mie2i and my altec speakers.
  21. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    The Bose MIE2i having a 32 ohm impedance, that's a reassuring statement! I can't wait to test out my new MBP's headphone jack :D. Given the good number of positive (as in: "no hiss heard") feedbacks from this thread, I'm now hopeful there might actually be no hissing.
  22. Penguissimo macrumors 6502a


    Nov 17, 2009
    I had a huge problem with this with my Penryn MBP and Etymotic ER-6is; it was so bad that it was hard to hear the sound at times. But with my new 15" SB, it's crystal-clear. The ER-6is are pretty low-impedance, too, so I'm pleased!
  23. leimanpt macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    So this is not a general problem but a problem with some machines? I think I will go to the store a try my headphones on the laptops :)
  24. leimanpt macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    Last weekend I picked my ear phones and made some tests in all the macs found on a local apple retailer. This is the result:

    Macbook Pro 2011. 13 – hissing
    Macbook Pro 2011. 15 – perfect sound
    Macbook Pro 2011. 17 – hissing louder than the 13 model
    Macbook Air. 13 – perfect sound
    Macbook Air. 11 – perfect sound

    I don’t know what to think about these results, but one thing is for sure, some models have quality problems.
  25. Roman2K~, Apr 5, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011

    Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Very nice, thanks for having done all these tests!

    However my 15" MacBook Pro 2011 doesn't produce perfect sound like the one you tested at the store:
    • Sennheiser HD 595: emits a buzz, and a varying one at that. It's mostly quiet, almost unnoticeable, with peaks (louder buzz) every 5 seconds, for 1 second. I don't know about clicks.
    • beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (80 ohms): no buzz, no hiss, but clicks from time to time. Not whenever the sound card switches on or off though, but somewhat randomly, and only when there's no sound being played, fortunately.
    I brought it to the Genius Bar for another reason (extremely high CPU and GPU temperatures) and they offered to swap the motherboard for a brand new one (those Geniuses really make up for the price of the product, that was a tremendously nice surprise). We'll see if the hiss / buzz / clicks disappear with this new one.

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