iPad Pro New iPad Pro 12.9 bad sound quality

Discussion in 'iPad' started by jenss, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. jenss, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017

    jenss macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    EDIT: I am now certain that the iPad is defective. I will return it. Details in post #8.

    Got the new 12.9 a few days ago. Everything works just fine, except the sound quality is bad in some cases.

    I live in a country with no Apple Store, and I haven't seen it at the local electronics stores yet, so I can't easily go listen to another new 12.9 at the moment.

    The audio problem is a little hard to explain, but I'll try.

    When playing audio through the internal speakers that hit certain frequencies in the lower end, some kind of resonance happens, and the sound is muddy or rattling. Some male voices hit that frequency, and it sounds like the entire iPad is self resonating, making it a little hard to understand what that person says.

    A few songs sound bad too.

    The best example is to find "Jennifer Warnes, Somewhere Somebody" (on e.g. YouTube or just the free preview in iTunes Store) and play it at about 75% volume. It sounds absolutely terrible. Like the speaker unit is rattling around on a glass table. Especially the ending from around 2:38 where she sings "meeeeeeeeee" is nasty.
    That particular track is a very high quality recording that should sound absolutely clear.

    Sounds fine on a 12.9 1st gen and other older iPads. Also sounds fine through headphones.

    Playing at less than ~50% volume is fine. 50% or more is bad.

    Rotating the iPad around makes no difference. Maybe it's a tad better when the home button is on top, but not a big difference.
    If one of the four speaker units in the iPad was defective I would've expected rotation of the iPad to make a difference. This seems more like the speakers are ok, but the whole iPad is resonating.
    Pressing on the screen and/or the back makes no difference.

    Most other songs and videos sound fine.

    Anyone else with a new 12.9 have the same experience?
  2. Derude macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2013
    I have the 10.5 iPad Pro and I notice not problems, what I find odd is you say most songs sound fine.. this makes me think it's a quality problem with the stuff your listening to not your IPad.. if songs keep messing up at the same time in certain songs none stop that's not a problem with your speakers
  3. Derude macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2013
    If your using your old iPad 12.9 as reference and your using the EXACT same song on both but your new one is still messed then ya something is wrong, I would recommend returning it

    my advice, when your paying that much for a product and there's something wrong with it even if it's something little or even if it's something that happens here and there return it.
  4. jenss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    I get what you're saying, but when the exact same song or YouTube video sounds fine on other devices, the source material is not at fault.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 15, 2017 ---
    My first thought too. The reason I'm asking is, if every new 12.9 sounds the same, there's no point in exchanging it.
  5. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    As small,as the speakers are and where they are mounted, lower frequencies will not sound that good. Get you a good pair of wireless headphones and the 10.5 rocks!
  6. jenss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    Yes that is odd. To me it seems like certain frequencies in the audio makes the entire iPad resonate. Those frequencies may not be strongly present in every song or video. A bass heavy piece like for example Scream and Shout with Will I Am sounds just fine.

    Music isn't main problem for me. One specific news presenter has a voice that triggers the resonance constantly. Won't name him to avoid this turning political. Just about every other news presenter sounds just fine.

    Added a short video to original question.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 15, 2017 ---
    Already have some very nice headphones, but they will not solve the problem when several people listen to the iPad at the same time. Was planning to use it for watching the news at breakfast and diner... don't judge me ;-)

    Maybe you are right that the speakers can't sound any better, that's what I'm trying to find out.
  7. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    The speaker placement I believe is different from the 12.9 iPad Pro, which uses carbon fiber caps. Also, the speakers will be somewhat smaller than the larger iPad Pro. I have heard recent reports where the 10.5 Pro is not as loud as some were expecting.

    Here is a breakdown by iFixit.

  8. jenss, Jun 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017

    jenss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    I am now certain that the iPad is defective. I will return it.

    I decided to do a science on the problem...
    For the technically interested, here's how I determined that the iPad is defective:

    Before we begin, let me clarify that the main problem is not that the iPad is unable to play a pure sine wave, it's simply the easiest way to illustrate why it sounds awful. All tests are done in a room with acoustically dampened ceiling, and the devices are placed on towels to eliminate rattling.

    When playing back a pure sine wave and comparing the 1st gen and the 2nd gen there's a big difference in clarity.
    Above ~500Hz it sounds ok, but below it sounds awful. Worst case is around 180Hz

    This is a spectrum plot of the 1st gen iPad at full volume, 180Hz sine wave:

    This looks nice and clean with some harmonic distortion, which is fine.

    This is the 2nd gen plot at 75% volume:

    Lots of non harmonic distortion. Not good.

    I have tested all the older iPads I could get near, and they all sound great and produce a spectrum view similar to the 1st one above.

    Video of a direct comparison, 1st gen left, 2nd gen right:

    Next I tested speakers vs. headphone jack on the 2nd gen iPad. The spectrum view is live as illustrated by me making noises:

    It's a little hard to hear the sound from the headphones, but the spectrum view says it all. Headphone out is a clean signal. Speaker output is full of non harmonic distortion.

    Now please direct your attention to 0:32 in this video. The distortion gets worse by itself.

    When playing below ~75% volume, some distortion is present at a constant level. At around 76% volume the distortion increases after 10-15s and again a second later. When lowering the volume, the distortion decreases after a few seconds in two steps.
    At higher volumes the two step increase is significantly faster. Above 90% it happens almost instantly.

    Here's a waterfall view of that phenomenon.
    (Please excuse the crudity of this model. I didn't have time to build it to scale or paint it)

    After restoring through iTunes and setting up as a new device, the problem persisted.
  9. Husketch macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2017
    Hello OP!

    I bought an iPad Pro 2nd gen (12.9) and I think the sound isn't really that good..! Did you replace your unit? Let us know if the replacement has better sound quality.
  10. jenss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    I got a replacement. (Took forever due to the Notpetya malware attack on global shipping).
    Same exact problem.

    I suspect they all have the problem, and I guess I am just more sensitive to that kind of distortion than most people.
    When demonstrating the problem to others, they have a really hard time identifying anything wrong with the sound.
    I am a bit perplexed by that, since I don’t have golden ears or OCD.

    I have chosen to just live with it, since the iPad is so great in every other aspect.

    I really wish that Apple would just implement a systemwide equalizer, so we could dampen the range around 180Hz where the distortion is most pronounced.
  11. Husketch, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017

    Husketch macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2017

    Thanks for the update jenss!
    It's a pity, but I think it's livable with. Do you think it was a better sound overall on the first gen 12.9 iPad Pros ?
    I will have to find a way to compare it with other models at the Apple store. overall I feel the sound is too 'treble'..
    If your replacement unit has the exact same sound, it's then highly likely they're all like this..
    Thanks for making this thread, this might be a serious issue with Apple sound quality on the new iPads.
  12. jenss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    Don’t have golden ears, but my take on it is that the 2nd gen plays way louder, and has more bass.
    1st gen has cleaner sound.

    I often use the iPad to listen to podcasts/talk shows, and the 1st gen has better reproduction of voices, but 2nd gen can play louder but with some, not all, voices distorted.

    Despite the sound problem, 2nd gen is still the overall winner for me, compared to 1st gen.
  13. rolijen macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2011
    My 2nd gen iPad Pro 12.9 has the same problem. I love the device, but this crappy audio really bugs me. Serious design flaw. I don't know what to do.
  14. uuaschbaer macrumors regular


    Aug 31, 2009
    I'd like to repeat your sciencing when I get my ipad pro, what apps do you use to produce the sine wave and the frequency spectrum?

    Edit: And out of curiosity, what phone model do you use?
  15. Husketch macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2017
    Did you buy it recently? can you compare it at the Apple Store just to make sure it's not just your device, but all have the same sound production?
  16. retrouk macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2017
    Hi everyone, having received my new 12.9 iPad Pro yesterday, I can confirm that I like everything about it apart from the speakers. This could really be a deal breaker for me and I might end up returning it because of the speakers. It seems to me that Apple have put the cheapest possible speakers in the iPad Pro as to my ears they sound terrible. I think there is definitely room in the iPad especially the 12.9 model to put some decent speakers in. It could possibly be that I have a defective unit, but I think that is highly unlikely. I will be visiting my local Apple Store to compare the sound quality of other iPads but I still think that this is a massive oversight by Apple. Get a company like Bowers & Wilkins to make the iPad speakers and then you will have an iPad that will rock in terms of screen and sound. Just my opinion :)
  17. Bbqthis macrumors 6502a


    Apr 12, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    Sound quality is largely subjective. It's very likely you just favor poor sound.
  18. retrouk macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2017
    I do agree that sound quality is very subjective. I will be visiting my local Apple Sore today to just make sure that I don't have a faulty unit, however I do think that the speakers can be greatly improved !
  19. Kal-037, Aug 27, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017

    Kal-037 macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2015
    Depends on the day, but usually I live all over.
    I hear a slight deeper vibration when listening to certain videos on YT, but it's barely noticeable and only YT. I like to think I'm mostly an audiophile so to me its sound awesome. I think the sound is as good as gen 1 (which ruled) so I'm happy.

  20. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    I would return it and get a new one as my speakers on my 12.9 are great and a big plus from my 9.7 pro.
  21. JoshVB macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2002
    I would completely agree about returning for a replacement. I had the original iPad Pro 12” and thought it sounded great. I purchased the new iPad Pro 12” (second generation) very shortly after it came out. I thought it sounded horrible compared to what I was used to with the first generation. The sound coming from the speakers on the latest generation I purchased sounded blown out and muddy, not crisp. The chassis of the latest iPad Pro also really vibrated. I lived with the sound until this past week when I decided to take my iPad Pro into the local Apple Store and do a comparison between it and the floor models. The floor models sounded louder and more crisp. While the chassis still had some vibration on the demo units it felt noticeably less than my iPad Pro. As a business customer of Apple, one of my contacts at the store came over and assisted with the testing, he also concurred that the demo units sounded better. After a quick visit to the Genius Bar, the Genius agreeded that it sounded different than the demo units and agreed to replace it. He did say however that the replacement unit may exhibit the same sound and that if it were the case it would be difficult to request an additional replacement. Unfortunately at the time I visited no replacement units were available at the local store (iPad Pro 12” silver 256GB cellular).

    I’m very happy to report that today I went to the local Apple Store to pick-up my replacement. It sounds like I expect an iPad to sound like. It’s clear, crisp, and the bass is clean and not muddy sounding. It’s definitely louder than the original unit I returned. I’m very pleased that I finally decided to replace the first one as it sounded crappy from day one (but as bad as it sounded, it didn’t sound like a blown speaker). I hope my experience might serve as some help to someone else who feels that their iPad Pro 12” generation two doesn’t sound up to par with what they expect. For me at least I’m finally totally happy with my purchase.

  22. Kal-037, Nov 13, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017

    Kal-037 macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2015
    Depends on the day, but usually I live all over.
    Bump... iPhone 10 and other iOS devices have the same sound vibration issues. I noticed my 2017 iPad Pro had a slight reverb/vibration issue when watching YouTube videos with deep sounds. It isn’t bad at all, but I was curious if it was a slight defect of some sort. But after trying out the same videos on my smaller iPad Pro and iPhone 10... it’s a normal sound issue, period.
    The iPhone 10 was actually a little worse than the iPad, but not noticeable unless you’re really listening for it.

    Anyway, just thought I’d post that info, so in the future people realize it’s normal for the iPad since so much sound comes out of a small area made of metal.

  23. JoshVB macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2002
    Thanks for the post Kallum. However, I don’t think you should say that “it’s a normal sound issue period.”

    My issue was a defective sound system on the latest iPad 12” iPad. My first generation 12” iPad didn’t exhibit the distortion issue, the units that myself and the Apple Genius compared my defective iPad to didn’t exhibit the same distortion issue, and my replacement iPad didn’t exhibit the distortion issue either.

    Some vibration is normal at higher volume but bad distortion is not. We’re not just talking about vibration in this thread.

  24. Kal-037 macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2015
    Depends on the day, but usually I live all over.
    Apologies, my bold statement wasn’t aimed AT YOU. I should have clarified...
    I was saying slight sound vibration/distortion is normal in regular non-problematic Apple devices, the amount you recorded on your device obviously was not. There will always be sound variations when metal and glass are involved. I wasn’t disputing your claim at all (again my apologies,) but I was just pointing out that the volume (which I’ve tested on my new iPP, my old iPP, iPad mini 4, and iPhone 10) all have the same slight vibration.
    I’m merely saying if someone buys an iPad Pro and notices some vibration, I suggest not to immediately return it, get upset, or start a #VibrationGate or what not. Instead, take it to Apple, or test it out compared to some other devices to see if the vibration is something similar to yours or is just too annoying for them to want to keep. :)


Share This Page