Thunderbolt Display static sound problem coming from the speakers

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by jpcyr, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. jpcyr macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2010
    I have bought a new Thunderbolt Display and connect it to the 2011 MacBook Air. Both latest Firmware updates has been installed, for the MBA as for the Thunderbolt Display. Each time I play a media with some audio (music or video) and stop, the speakers are emiting a static humming sound for about 30-45 seconds and stop. I can hear the humming sound starting once I star the music or video, but it gets cover by the media playing.

    Anyone has this problem?

    My display is still under the 14 days period trial, so I would probably just bring it back and take another one, but as no one as discuss this problem, I want to know if I'm alone or not.


    I went back to Apple and have changed the unit. At first nothing. Half a day without any static sound, and then another full day. But at the end of the day, today, 12 hours after having the display open, the speakers made the same static humming sound for 30 seconds after the media had stopped.

    I wonder if all the units don't have this problem or is it really have something to do with my MacBook Air. For sure I cannot hear any static sound coming from the MBA speakers. It really happen with when it is connected to the Thunderbolt Display.

    As I said the latest Firmwares are applied, bot MBA and Thunderbolt. I did reset the SMC and PRAM many times with not luck.

    This is not the fan that I'm hearing. The fan is buy the way in the middle of the computer at the back. Look you will see the grill. Plus if you look at iFixit teardown, you can see it clearly.

    Please all owners of Thunderbolt display can you make the test and let me know.
  2. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I have not noticed it with mine when connected to my iMac or my MBP.
  3. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    Do you know anyone with another Mac; have them come over and see if the problem occurs with their device as well.
  4. jpcyr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2010
    This is something I also thought of trying with another Mac, problem is, my girlfriend only has a MacBook Air 2010 and the Thunderbolt is only working with Thunderbolt enable Mac.

    My only luck would be to bring it to the Genius bar, but I fear that no one would be able to hear the sound. Plus it looks like the static begins only 1-2 hours the MacBook Air plugged in on this one.

    Like I did replace the Display and it still has this problem, I suspect the problem could be the MacBook Air. I will call Apple Support next Tuesday and try to speak to a senior tech to see if he has any idea.
  5. DW58, Oct 8, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011

    DW58 macrumors regular


    Sep 2, 2011
    Nope, I'm using mine with my 2011 15" MBP - no sound problems whatsoever.
  6. TuiSong macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2011
    Petone, New Zealand
    I'm using mine with my 2011 mac mini. I can't say I have noticed anything odd with the sound. I did have an issue with a slightly chinky sound in one of my pink floyd tracks (learning to fly off the pulse cd) It was driving me nuts and causing me to worry about the speakers... and then I decided to listen to it over my lounge sound system with no other sound distractions around me and realized it is a tambourine or similar on the actual soundtrack. I usually just listen to music while I am using the computer and the chink chink sound just kind of disappeared into the general background on my older iMac .

    I'm just kind of wondering if you're not being overly sensitive to something that you're perceiving as a problem but isn't? Is it a really loud static sound, or barely there. Is it something that could be within normal behavior range but because you've noticed it it's become the dripping tap in the middle of the night
  7. JronMasteR, Oct 9, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011

    JronMasteR macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2011
    Same issues happened to me just now. I disconnected the Thunderbolt Display, worked fine for a few minutes and then it happened again. Wired keyboard became unresponsive at the same time.
    I'm also having issues with my Magic Trackpad while connected to the Thunderbolt Display.
    I connected my USB peripherals directly to the MBP and it seems to be working fine now. I'm also having issues with peripherals connected to the Thunderbolt Display in BootCamp.
  8. jpcyr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2010
    Oh the sound is real. Specially that the sound is not there for many hours and then it comes back. When it's kicking in, no way it will stop unless I give a break to the monitor.

    I have a similar thread open on Apple Support Discussions board and I have someone else telling me the problem also happens for him, exactly the way I have described it with his MacBook Air. I begin to wonder if the problem is not the MBA sound output from the Thunderbolt port. Something I cannot test it other than with a Thunderbolt display for now.
  9. TuiSong macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2011
    Petone, New Zealand
    Now you have me curious and I'll try pushing mine a bit harder to see what happens with the sound. I'm not running any extras off the display, and I have it connected to my mac mini.

    Does it happen if you just have the thunderbolt connection hooked up, without the charger connection? Something about this is sounding like interference from the power load or something

    disclaimer: I'm just saying that to try and sound intelligent, but it made sense in my head
  10. jpcyr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2010
    I did some more test before going to the Apple Store tonight.

    1. I did try to use the Thunderbolt Display with the MacBook Air open and with no power other than the battery. Same problem, static sound from the Display speakers.

    2. I did try to plug the MacBook Air to its own power supply from an other power outlet. Same problem.

    3. I did try to plug the Display to another power outlet in the house. Same problem.

    Conclusion, I guess the MacBook Air Thunderbolt Port has a problem with the sound output.

    The Genius at the Apple Store also said it is something to try. He did order the piece (an all new motherboard in fact). In the mean time I did refund the Display. I don't want to get stuck with it after the 14 days grace period. When the MacBook Air would be repaired I will buy it again and see how it goes under another 14 days period.
  11. Zilla52 macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2011
    Do you have a Promise Pegasus?

    I've had a speaker buzzing/distortion issue with my Thunderbolt Display since I got it a few weeks ago. Per a review by Anandtech ( the problem may be related to the Promise Pegasus external RAID storage unit. I can verify that corruption of my TB Display speakers occurs whenever a Time Machine backup starts or I'm doing file transfers with the Pegasus. Once I'm done transferring files, restarting the audio application (iTunes, Pandora, etc.) corrects the problem.

    Even if you don't have a Pegasus and/or your speaker issues aren't exactly the same, it seems pretty obvious there are still some bugs in the firmware responsible for managing the different data streams combined in the Thunderbolt protocol.

  12. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    Did you connect the display to a grounded outlet, and/or have other equipment connected to your computer that plug into a different AC circuit?

    Non-grounded outlets, or gear plugged into different AC circuits can introduce humming in audio amplifiers under certain conditions. It might be worth watching out for. :)

    Always try to keep your stuff properly grounded. Especially with metal body macbook pros run off of its AC adaptor, because unless you attach the extension cord to the charger it won't ground your computer, even if you plug the adaptor into a grounded outlet.
  13. jpcyr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2010
    Since my return from vacations, I bought a third Display as new Firmwares and Sofware updates where released.

    I regret to inform that the same problem is persisting, but I did further test to narrow the problem :

    • Anytime a media is playing, there is white noise in the background
    • Anytime a media has spot playing, white noise can be hear for 30 seconds until it stops
    • Initializing a FaceTime call has for effect of hearing the white noise even if no sound are exchange and both microphones are on mute.
    • Unplugging any USB wires or Ethernet from the Display (leaving only the Thunderbolt wire to the MBA) has no effect.
    • Plugging the Display to another power outlet has no effect
    • Unplugging the power wire to the MacBook Air (and leaving the MBA on battery) has no effect
    • Plugging the MBA on its own power source has no effect
    • Plugging external USB speakers to the Display (and selecting as the Output source) = no white noise can be hear from the USB speakers or from the ones of the Display (meaning that I doubt the white noise is transferred from the Thunderbolt port to the Display)
    • Selecting the Input source "USB Display" while Output source is "External USB Speakers" and not the "USB Display" has for effect of initializing the white noise from the speakers. It stops 30 seconds later. It's the only way I did find to start the noise without playing any media.
    • Only way of not having any white noise is to have the Output to "Other USB Speakers" and Input to "Internal Microphone" from the MBA. So essentially cutting out any input and ouput sound sources from the Display.

    I wish to know if any other person is experiencing this particular problem?

    BTW: All EFI Firmware (2.2) and Thunderbolt Software Update 1.1 and Thunderbolt Display Firmware Update 1.0 have been installed. I did exchange the Thunderbolt Display 3 times, I have the exact same issue with three of them. So the problem is with ALL the Display OR with my Thunderbolt port of the MBA or the MBA in general.
  14. JronMasteR macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2011
    I had the same issue only once or twice as a noted above. Since the new updates, I have not had a single issue. All peripherals work, sound is great... It seems like you got a faulty MBA. I would take it to a genius bar.
  15. DW58 macrumors regular


    Sep 2, 2011
    No problems with any sounds on my TBD used with 2011 MBP.
  16. Epictetus macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2011
    Exactly the same problem

    I bought a new Mac PowerBook in October 2011, and two Thunderbolt displays. I did the firmware upgrade to the displays and also upgraded to the latest version of Lion on the PowerBook. One Thunderbolt died within six hours of arrival, and has now been returned. The other worked since for 6 hours, and then ts loudspeakers started to sound fuzzy and cut out intermittently. I did the usual reboot, unplugging cables etc. However the problem persisted. The sound on the Thunderbolt display was unusable.

    A few days later I took delivery of the replacement for the dead Thunderbolt. I was expecting clear sound. The sound was fine, until I plugged in the Pegasus Promise R6 RAID drive which I had also bought at the same time as the Thunderboilt displays. Shortly afterwards, the old sound problem began again in the brand new Thunderbolt display's speakers.

    I have played around with Time Machine, and every time Time Machine starts to copy data to the Pegasus drive the speakers in both Thunderbolt displays stop working either completely or degrade with static hiss.

    From my experiments I conclude that Thunderbolt Displays have a design flaw and do not work as advertised, and that Apple's plan to testing this piece of hardware probably had a lacuna.

    I hope Apple fixes this technology, but having just finished the latest biography of Steve Jobs, I can hear him saying of the way that these displays handle sound right now, "It's a piece of ****." This is a pity, If these expensive displays worked they would be very good.

    8 NOV 11
  17. eyezest macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2011
    Finally found someone with the same problem as me. I was about to return my thunderbolt display because of the speakers distortion. I also have a pegasus thunderbolt connected to display and every time I transfer files and am listening to something the sound will get huge distortions. It will only work when no files are being transferred.

    This is very annoying for such an expensive product. I have already installed the firmware update for the MBP and for the display but unfortunately the problem persists. I hope Apple can address this soon through another firmware update.

    If anyone knows a work around please let us know.

  18. nickmilitello macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2011
    yep same thing

    Play music out of FCPX timeline and it just distorts. I have two 27" TB displays and a P6 raid. getting the same problem. I hope a fix arrives soon. I had to use my audio 1/8" jack out of the MBP to get clean audio. Not sure if it is Peagus or the 27", but it is doing it to both monitors so I assume the monitors are working fine. Thoughts?
  19. JronMasteR macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2011
    I have the static sound problem with Skype as soon as I enable the Face Time camera of the Thunderbolt Display. Very annoying. I have to quit Skype and other apps like iTunes to get clear sound again. Would be great if any of you guys could check if you get static too in Skype.
  20. js09 macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2010
    I've got this same issue except with the cinema display connected to a PC.

    Anytime my CPU has to work the audio coming out of the monitor takes a dump.
  21. ozyr macrumors member


    May 3, 2009
    Same static issue with a TB display and a 2011 MBP. Vey disappointing. Debating to return it or wait for a fix (if there is one to come)?
  22. Zilla52 macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2011
    The problem is in work...

    I've contacted Promise tech support; they are aware of the issue and working on a fix with Apple. They put a trouble ticket in for me and requested my system profile information. Per the tech rep, once a solution is found, they'll contact anyone who has opened a trouble ticket about the audio distortion.
  23. jterp7 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    it sounds like the speakers powering on and usually happens when I first turn it on after not having used it in a while
  24. nickmilitello macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2011
    Just FYI

    I just did another test. I plugged my MBP directed into the P6. I was getting 550mb/read write. Everytime I plug in a monitor or another device the read speed drops by half. Now I am finding that Blackmagic Ultra Studio 3D can't send a 1080p out. Just get static in the line to a color correction monitor.
    So when using (2) 27" ACD, P6, BM Ultra Studio. The bandwidth of thunderbolt is too limited....
    ****until I swapped and went to 13" MBP with thunderbolt. Now all 4 devices work fine. very odd that a computer with half the horsepower can handle everything....
    Went to apple, replaced motherboard. Problem still not fixed.
    Trying to replace hard drive to SSD. Hopefully that will fix the issue, because there is nothing left to replace. Also I have swapped the ram previously.


Share This Page