MacBook Pro audio suddenly tinny, no startup bong

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by maknik, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. maknik macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    #1
    I have a late-2009 15" MacBook Pro running 10.6.8. Sometimes I use it for white noise when traveling, but last night when I was using it suddenly all the lower tones disappeared and the sound got very tinny. When I play videos or music, it also sounds faint and tinny. When I use headphones, it sounds fine. And when the computer restarts, there is no bong sound, even though it is not muted when I shut it down.

    The most fundamental questions is whether this is a hardware or software problem. It still plays sound, in stereo, so neither of the speakers has burnt out. Is there a separate woofer that might have gone bad?

    If it's software, I've tried zapping the PRAM and doing a SMC reset. I've thrown out sound preference files in ~/Library/preferences/audio/ and ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.systemsound.plist and restarted. I've checked the sound preferences for anything odd, but it all looks the same as ever, and I've tried changing settings in the Audio MIDI setup, to no avail. I was running Audio Hijack at the time (to make the white noise pinker), so I tried removing that, but no effect either. I even tried reinstalling the 10.6.8 combo update, but no effect there either.

    Any thoughts or suggestions from anyone? It's a real pain, since not only is the white noise now far too hissy, but more importantly the speaker sound is now too faint and tinny to watch videos or listen to anything without headphones. Help!
     
  2. CaffeinatedNoms macrumors member

    CaffeinatedNoms

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    Jun 8, 2014
    Location:
    Northeast England
    #2
    If you're incredibly lucky, it might just be a bad connection. If you feel confident enough, open her up and follow the black cables that run between the speakers and the motherboard, and check they're all firmly seated on their push-click things. If they're not, like the name suggests, push and click them back.

    If it's not that, then it sounds like the actual drivers have shorted and died. You can try replacing them but I've never done it myself so I can't vouch for how easy that may be.
     
  3. maknik thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    #3
    Interesting idea -- I'll give it a shot when I get home. I'm not afraid to crack it open, having replaced the hard drive and battery over the years (though the last one was a while ago, so I doubt that was the cause of this). But is there a way that the connection could go that knocks out the low tones but not the high ones? Or if it's the drivers, can something die that only knocks out the bass or higher volumes?
     
  4. CaffeinatedNoms macrumors member

    CaffeinatedNoms

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    Jun 8, 2014
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    Northeast England
    #4
    If it was only the bass, then it would be logical that only the subwoofer driver had died, but if it's affecting the volume for both right and left speakers (only the right side has a subwoofer) then I think something else may be afoot.

    I found these guides, which should help identify the cables to check:
    Right Speaker and Left Speaker
     
  5. maknik thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    #5
    Yikes -- that's a lot of steps. Compared to that, even trying to update the OS to Mavericks seems easier, even though it seems more likely a hardware than software problem.

    Do you (or anyone) have a theory why the startup bong would have stopped though? That's the only thing that gives me some hope that it's software...
     
  6. CaffeinatedNoms macrumors member

    CaffeinatedNoms

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    Jun 8, 2014
    Location:
    Northeast England
    #6
    You can try flashing the NVRAM; hold down Cmd+Opt+P+R as the Mac starts, and keep them held down until the Mac starts a second time. That often helps unstick software issues :)
     
  7. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #7
    The startup boot chime is NOT produced by software (though it can be muted or affected by your software, you should still be able to hear the boot chime after a good PRAM reset, regardless of the condition of your software)
    "Sounds" like your subwoofer has failed.
    I'm not sure why that would leave you with no boot chime, so that would make me suspicious of the sound chip on the logic board.

    Try a more lengthy PRAM reset - that is, restart while holding Option-Command-P and R. You may hear a "reset" of the CD drive at about the same time that you would hear the boot chime. Continue to hold the same 4 keys until you hear the reset 2 more times, at least. If nothing noticeable happens, just continue to hold those 4 keys for 1-2 minutes, which should be long enough. Release the keys, and let your MacBook Pro startup normally.
     
  8. maknik thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    #8
    Yep, as per the original post, I did try the PRAM/NVRAM reset. For good measure, I tried it again, letting it restart at least 20 or so times. No sound at any point.

    It seems based on that that it is a hardware issue. But what's odd is that the tinny stereo sound still works. Perhaps that means the startup chime is sent only to the subwoofer?
     
  9. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #9
    I've never tested a boot without the subwoofer attached.
    When working normally, if you restart with headphones connected, the boot chime does NOT sound through the headphones, but sounds through the internal speaker, even though the headphones are attached.
    So, it seems likely that the boot chime sounds only through the subwoofer (I don't have any way to prove that)
    Anyway, the only way to get your white noise back, is to replace the subwoofer. Be sure to check inside to make sure the subwoofer is properly connected.

    I wonder if someone who knows more about audio than I - if the long-term use of white noise might damage your speaker?
     
  10. maknik thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    #10
    I've ordered a replacement right speaker/subwoofer; I'll check back in with a report when I've installed it. I suspect the problem was not the white noise per se, but the fact that Audio Hijack allows you too boost the audio a bit, which means the speaker may have been overdriven whenever I was running the white noise generator. That was only a few nights a month, usually, but the white noise + audio boost seems like a plausible culprit -- if indeed it is a hardware issue.
     
  11. kevvjj9 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2015
    #11
    was there a solution to this problem? I have the same issue.
     
  12. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #12
    If you get only tinny sounds from the internal speakers, then the subwoofer may have failed, as may have happened in to the OP.

    Do you get any audio when you plug in headphones?
    Did you try the PRAM reset? Do you get boot chimes when you try a PRAM reset, and hold the keys for about 30 seconds or longer?
     
  13. kevvjj9 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2015
    #13
    Yes to all. Tried everything, just want to know if replacing the right hand speaker/woofer assembly fixed the issue or not.
     
  14. donronbon macrumors newbie

    donronbon

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    Oct 21, 2016
    #14
    (How) did you guys fix the issue? I have the same problem ...
     
  15. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
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    #15
    Which MacBook Pro do you have?
    When did you first notice the problem?

    What have you tried so far?
    Did you try the PRAM reset? Be sure to hold the same 4 keys until you hear the startup chime two or more times.
    If your sound is working, but tinny, then the subwoofer can certainly fail.
     
  16. kevvjj9 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2015
    #16
    I have a Macbook 13" Early 2011. I have the same symptoms as above. Stereo sound lovely throughout headphones. No startup chime. replaced all the speakers... no change. It's a logic board issue - need replacement logic board. So, my solution was to buy a small Bluetooth speaker and have it next to my laptop. Sound is great and I can live without the startup chime.
     

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