New 2017 iMac 27" Speakers Sound Bad

Discussion in 'iMac' started by HyQuality, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. glazball macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2017
    I've had no sound issues whatsoever with my 2017 iMac. It sounds fine, really nice in fact, and not "muffled" at all. I think those who feel they have muffled sound should get it checked out.

    Also, I don't have a 2015 to compare mine to - but to all of you who are saying the 2017 sounds worse, it's really hard to know if there's any truth to your statements when we don't know what/how you are comparing. Are you comparing the exact same source material with the same software and same settings? It could be that you had Sound Enhancer or EQ enabled in iTunes on your 2015 and disabled on your 2017, or something along those lines.
  2. EugW macrumors 68040


    Jun 18, 2017
    For my 2010 iMac vs my 2017 iMac, I have them side by side. In fact, I can play the audio from my 2017 iMac out of my 2010 iMac since I have them connected by DisplayPort, which carries audio. IOW, in the settings I can change the output at will, alternating between the two iMacs.

    Neither iMac is exactly great, but the sound from the 2017 is a little less clear, which probably is due to the the case design. As for the 2015 vs the 2017, I wouldn't know, since I do not have a 2015. Also, the shell design of the 2015 and 2017 are the same, and both are very different from the 2010.

    But like I was suggesting earlier, it's not a huge deal for me. I have both the AirPods and the Beats Solo3 Wireless, the latter of which came free with the iMac 2017.
  3. ChoPraTs macrumors newbie


    Oct 27, 2009
    Madrid, Spain
    I've recently received my new iMac 2017 27" and, like EugW, I have another iMac 2010 27" to compare. The sound between the two is clearly different, but I would not say that is worst in the new model. The bass response of this new iMac 2017 is a lot better than the oldest that I have. I was comparing both side by side and, although the highs frequencies are more present in the 2010, the bass response is a lot better in the 2017. Perhaps this is the sensation that all of you are perceiving.

    I'm used to work with high quality headphones and monitors (I work as composer and produce orchestral mockups) like AKG, JBL, etc. Some of them costs hundreds of dollars, and they are only headphones! But I remember the first time I bought a studio headphones (AKG K240 MKII) and I was very concerned by its sound... The first days it sound to me very bad. Until that moment, I was only used to listen "hi-fi" systems, where specially high frequencies are altered to sound more "impressive" or "present" to general customers, but this "hi-fi" sound is really not natural. When you enter to the music production world, the first thing that you try to get for work in good conditions is speakers and headphones that sound as flat as possible, and always avoid that "hi-fi" sound with high or bass frequencies altered in consumer speakers. Well, after many years working with "near to flat" equipment, now my ears prefer all these kind of speakers and headphones and its very difficult to me to listen with bad quality equipment. When I try to listen again with my old "hi-fi" systems or headphones, I really feel uncomfortable and thinking "how could I like to listen music with this before?"

    I guess people get used to listen what they have at home and when something new sounds different, they usually do not like it. I'm not sure if those who are saying here that their iMacs 2017 sound bad have really a problem in their units, perhaps there are some of them defective. But I think its also possible that this different sounding that I have noticed between the new model and the other I have from 2010, with more bass that also camouflages and balances the highest frequencies, is really the little difference that cause your concern. But I repeat, for me my unit is not bad, just different, but good enough. And of course if I need or want more, I change to my studio monitors or headphones that any iMac can't beat.
  4. guibo macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2017
    I didnt get free headphones?
  5. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2015
    Occasional limited time offers can sweeten the deal. If you like beats.
  6. EugW macrumors 68040


    Jun 18, 2017
    In certain countries there is an education purchase "Back To School" promotion for free headphones with the purchase of a Mac (or iPad Pro).

    In Canada, the deal with the iMac gives you a Beats Wireless Solo3 (or cheaper model) for free.

    The deal actually started July 12 in Canada in the US, but if you call in, you can get them retroactively, if you received the Mac as early as June 27. The deal dates may be different in other countries, and some countries don't have this deal at all.

    They wouldn't give me the free headphones for my MacBook purchase though, since I got that machine before the June 27 date. Some people still have managed to get it anyway though if their receipt date was within a few days of June 27.
  7. Bob418 macrumors member


    Sep 10, 2015
    I also think my new iMac's sound is quite good, comparable to a Creative 5.1 speaker I used before, in sound quality. Now I've packed the Creative speaker in store room, as it took too much table space.

    The iMac's sound volume is also not bad, quite suitable when watching Youtube video with family members.
  8. guibo macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2017

    wow, totally missed that, im in canada as well.

    however, im not a student. and i got my mac through the apple corporate discount store (my company has a discount with apple). Would i be eligible?
  9. EugW macrumors 68040


    Jun 18, 2017
    No. It's for university/college students or educators. (However, Apple never checks if you buy online.) I suspect your corporate discount might be more than the education discount though.
  10. Brazilano macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2016
    Great tip!!! I've just got my Beats Solo3 via chat! I bought my iMac in 5th July.
  11. guibo macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2017
    it normally is a better discount than education, but for some reason, students get a better discount on the top spec imac only. although i know apple 'doesnt check' when buying online, they do do spot checks. i would hate to find myself in that situation, so i went with the legitimate discount.
  12. EugW macrumors 68040


    Jun 18, 2017
    Oh OK. I am legit for the education discount (as an educator), but I've bought a double digit number of items from Apple over the years and have never been checked.

    Nice! :)

    Which country?
  13. jerwin, Jul 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017

    jerwin macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2015
    Given the following assumptions:

    1. Speakers are preferable over headphones
    2. One isn't limited by the selection at Best Buy.
    3. One isn't limited to products aimed at computer audio
    4. The computer is a primary listening device for music, movies, and games, in that order.
    5. Decor is of limited concern

    What's the minimum one could spend to get an audio system that
    1. Sounds, without question, superior to the imac's built in speakers
    2. Is good enough to stave off those upgrade jitters for years and years...

    I have an audiosource AMP-100 connected to Klipsch B-20 bookshelves.. It's good enough for my purposes, though it ended up being fairly expensive. And it gets loud, if not terribly deep. I do have a ten inch sub lying about, but don't really have room for it under my desk.
  14. EugW macrumors 68040


    Jun 18, 2017
    I don't know those speakers, but that setup sounds appropriate. I personally didn't do that though because I didn't want the clutter and I usually use headphones.

    Also, although the iMac's speakers aren't great, they're still better than most of my TVs' built-in speakers. For my TVs, sound systems are mandatory, even for basic usage. For the iMac, the built-ins are often good enough for basic usage like YouTube watching and what not.

    For my home office TV I use PSB Alphas along with some cheap eBay T-Amp. Sounds fine. My living room has a nice pair of mid-range towers with a decent centre, for a 3.0 surround setup. My projector though has a full-on Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 system.
  15. Brazilano macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2016
    I'm in the U.S.
  16. Wrathwitch macrumors 65816

    Dec 4, 2009
    funny...I just bought home a new 2017 27" iMac and compared to my 2009 iMac they sound very nice and robust!
  17. bbnck, Jul 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017

    bbnck macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2009
    I originally had a 2015 iMac which was replaced with a 2017 iMac as the original iMac was repeatedly suffering from image retention. In the UK we have the right to request a refund or replacement if the first repair fails to fix a specific problem :D.

    The speakers sound fine to me and I would say identical to the outgoing model. I'm fully deaf in one ear so I'm not best to judge its sound quality but to me the speakers in both models seem adequate. I never liked the overexaggerated bass in the outgoing model, and that remains the case with the new model.

    Ultimately if you have concerns with the speakers in your iMac, no forum post will help you. You need to contact Apple or an Apple Authorised Service Provider. If you have the slightes doubt, just do yourself a favour and speak to the people that can actually help you.
  18. looking4anotebo macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2007

    I was wrong in condemning the speakers on the 2017 iMac. I have one now and they are just as good as my 2015, if not louder. Very satisfied.
  19. alanhouser macrumors newbie


    Sep 25, 2017
    Indiana, USA
    I just did the SAME update as you. Being an audio engineer, I'm crazy about speakers. To me, it sounds like they've changed the porting/encasement of the speakers TRY to give it more bass, but it sounds worse than the original. If you cross your arms on your chest and speak into this "arm container" (sounds weird, but try it), this is how the new speakers sound, compared to nothing obstructing it. It's like something superficial added to the housing.
  20. Georgethefourth macrumors newbie

    Oct 4, 2017
    I’ve got the same problem. I’ve been editing a project on Final Cut Pro and it sounds great on my old 2013 iMac. The same project sounds basey and muffled on the 2017 which is on the same desk. My client is going to worry about the sound mix now, unless I buy external speakers. I’m disappointed that the 2017 model sounds inferior to the 2013.
  21. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Dont bother trying to get a replacement. I can tell you that you are just going to get another 2017 with the same "weak speakers" problem. I know because I also got mine a couple weeks ago. My older (late 2012) iMac had slightly louder sounding speakers. They were never great to begin with, but the speakers on this 2017 iMac is not as loud. I have to crank up the volume quite a bit more to get decent audible sound.

    I also get a new problem: When my 2017 iMac 21.5" goes to SLEEP the external (powered Altec Lansing) speakers go POP.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 4, 2017 ---
    You all should report this to Apple at their Feedback site:
  22. bygonefan macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2017
    I just got a 2017 iMac to replace my ~2012 iMac. The sound is truly, truly, terrible in comparison, lacking in clarity--I'm just listening to it now, in a totally silent apartment at 1am. Disappointed. I would hazard to guess that it's just because the old iMac is not a totally sealed can--there's a big grate on the bottom and a long slit across the top in back for hot air--and sound waves--to come out. I vaguely remember that high frequency sounds don't penetrate materials as well as bass, so I guess that's why the new hygienically/aesthetically sealed one sounds muffled and basically awful (in comparison). I guess if you've never had an iMac you won't necessarily understand this...and that's how quality can slide so surreptitiously.

    Probably you could drill a few hundred little millimeter-sized holes in the back somewhere and it would help. :)

    But, this is all just speculation on my part (except that it does sound bad, that's my opinion).
  23. colodane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2012
    In my estimation, the sound of the 2017 27 inch iMac is "adequate" but not spectacular. Definitely on the "muddy" side. I was disappointed, but I can live with it.

    I'd hesitate to try to improve it with drilling more holes, etc. I'm guessing that Apple, in spite of your displeasure with the sound, has spent lots of hours trying to get the most audio quality that they could with the packaging constraints they had. If better sound is a high priority, a set of external speakers (or headphones) is the way to go.
  24. bygonefan macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2017
    True...I suppose I should get external speakers. And an external adapter for my monitor. And an external CD/DVD drive. And an external Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

    That was a joke about drilling holes...

    I did notice there is a tiny air vent on the bottom of the iMac, so at least some sound gets out.
    [side note: the noise from air venting out of it is more furious, higher pitched than my old iMac with 'giant' air vents and I find the new iMac's fan-on state more annoying and distracting, but, not too too bad]
  25. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    The bottom vents are air intake for the fans which double as channels for internal speakers to push sound out. And ironically when those vents were wider on previous iMacs, the pitch / noise level was probably lower since air had to be sucked in relatively slower.

    But I don't think the sound of the new iMac being bad had much to do with it, the muddy / muffled feeling probably has more to do with the shape and material of the chambers inside, which dictates the "timbre" of the sound before travelling out.

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