Very poor audio/speaker quality iMac 2019

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ferencav, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. ferencav macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    #1
    I have been using my new iMac 2019 for two days now and I noticed that the audio sounds very poor compared to my iMac 2012. I know you can't expect the best audio from an AIO desktop, but a downgrade in audio quality is unacceptable. Especially when you spend almost double the amount of money on a new computer.

    To illustrate the difference I've recorded some audio played on both systems in the same room at the same distance at the same volume level. The iMac 2019 sounds a bit louder but lacks in bass and sounds more hollow and cheaper.

    iMac 2012
    https://instaud.io/3wq2

    iMac 2019
    https://instaud.io/3wq3

    Do other people recognise the difference in sound quality or are the speakers in my system faulty?
     
  2. HuskerHarley macrumors regular

    HuskerHarley

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    Oct 28, 2017
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    Lincoln
  3. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #3
    I suppose... I can’t imagine depending on the audio from any Mac or PC. Your complaint is akin to those who criticize 4K external video monitors because the speakers are either terrible or nonexistent. Might as well dis a Smart Car for its inability to pull a house trailer.

    Decent sound isn’t expensive at all. Yes, you can get into pro grade audio and spend a gazilion bucks on the setup but any of these will make a huge improvement. The iMac has a headphone jack—a simple cable and a pair of powered speakers is all you need.
    https://www.imore.com/best-studio-audio-monitors-mac

    If you need deep bass, a subwoofer can be added. The Y cable goes to the sub as do the speaker inputs. Here’s a great article with some good links and a great recommendation for $127. You can always add it later.
    https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-budget-subwoofer/

    Ok, I am an audio and music industry pro. My setup is more complex and expensive. There are legions of articles chock full of goblltygook on pro audio, room treatments and other stuff you don’t need (but I do). Ignore that nonsense. You just want decent sound that doesn’t distract from your computing experience. How to I know? You consider the audio from a 2012 iMac to be acceptable.

    I will give you one pro tip that I learned from a world renown audio engineer: Get the speakers off the desk. You want them above the ear level for the best clarity. I run a 3-monitor setup with my iMac in the center so getting my speakers off the desk was the only way — and they did sound better when I did. My subwoofer is under my desk.
     
  4. ferencav thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    #4
    Thanks for your reaction. As I mentioned earlier, I know you can't expect the worlds best audio from built-in speakers. However the iMac 2012 was just fine (for me) to enjoy some music while working. Now it sounds like everything comes from a small tin can. Maybe the audio samples I provided are not that clear, but in real life it certainly is.

    My point is I'm a bit disappointed to experience a poorer quality audio from a iMac that is 7 years newer. I expected it to be the same. I'm curious if other people are experiencing this or that it is just my machine. Or maybe someone knows of any changes Apple made in the speakers they use in iMacs since 2012?
     
  5. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #5
    I hear you. My wife is an accomplished musician and concert pianist. She is ok with the audio from her 2011 iMac and won’t let me hook up the speakers I bought for her office (my daughter snagged them instead). Ok, her office, not mine. It’s just not a priority for her.

    Here’s the issue. The newer iMacs have more “stuff” inside the same box including better cooling than the 2012 (like the 2009–14, heat is a major issue with those). I don’t know if Apple is using the same speakers but something’s gotta give. In this case, it’s the sound.

    Interestingly, the iMac Pro is supposed to have the best sound of any iMac and Apple brags about it. Mine should be arriving next week and then I’ll know if it’s true — for about 10 minutes till I hook up my studio sound and never listen to it again.

    But do you want to complain or fix the issue? Those $100 speakers in the first link aren’t bad at all and hookup is easy as can be. The $170 Mackie pair is quite popular. Be careful, you might get used to decent sound.
     
  6. ferencav thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    #6
    Primarily I want to know if other people are experiencing the same drop in audio quality. So I know it's not just my machine and I don't have to return it. I can't find any information on a change of speakers over the years.

    I think you're right and it's a sacrifice for the extra computing power it has. But then again you would not think some parts of a new iMac are actually worse then the old ones. You would expect all parts to be the same or better.

    I have a pair of Yamaha monitors and an external soundcard on hand. So the solution is near. Normally I only use them when I'm doing audio related work. When I'm working on animation they feel a bit too much "in the face" for some reason and I tend to play music on the iMac speakers.
     
  7. auduchinok macrumors newbie

    auduchinok

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2017
    #7
    There were such reports for 2017 models where people claimed it sounded much worse compared to 2015 ones. I haven't tried 2019 personally yet but it probably is just the same case as the previous generation.
     
  8. ferencav thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    #8
    Ah that's really good to know. Now I discovered some different topics on the iMac 2017 speakers indeed. Thank you!

    So it's part of the iMac 2019 deal I guess. Such a shame. I really think it doesn't fit Apple to degrade speaker quality.
     
  9. Benz63amg macrumors 68030

    Benz63amg

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    #9
    I highly suggest adding a pair of harman kardon sound sticks to your iMac setup, they offer excellent sound quality that is well worth the money.
     
  10. chabig macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    #10
    I think both of your samples sounded fine. Different, but fine. The difference could be due to equalization or different hardware. Either way, it’s completely subjective.
     
  11. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

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    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    You Only Live Twice
    #11
    I think the 2019 sounded better. It was less muddy with better clarity. When I switched from 2019 back to 2012 iMac recording it was very noticeable.

    Also speakers need time to wear in, don't they? That's what I've always heard anyway.
     
  12. ferencav thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    #12
    Thanks for listening! It's subjective indeed, although if you all could have a listen here I think you would agree with me :)

    The 2012 maybe has a little too much bass, but the mids and highs are crystal clear in comparison with the 2019. On the 2019 music sounds as if you were on a video chat with someone and the other person is playing the music.

    Maybe I need time to get used to the new sound, or that the speakers have to wear in, but at this moment I really think they downgraded the speakers in 2017.
     
  13. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    Oct 14, 2018
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    The Sillie Con Valley
    #13
    "Holy G4 Cube, Batman! These are still being made!"

    I had no idea. HiFi, they ain't but retro and stylish, hell yea!
    https://www.amazon.com/Harman-Kardon-Soundsticks-III-Multimedia/dp/B0042F3K9W

    If I didn't have a studio system already... No, seriously, under $150 including a sub? Hard to beat that.
     
  14. Benz63amg macrumors 68030

    Benz63amg

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    Oct 17, 2010
    #14
    They truly are incredible! can't beat the sound quality for the price. I recommend them to close friends all the time.
     
  15. LauraJean macrumors regular

    LauraJean

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    Jan 7, 2015
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #15
    --- Post Merged, Apr 9, 2019 ---
    I listened to each with Sennheiser wired headphones, and preferred the 2019 recording because there was better balance between base and treble.
     
  16. Jamers99 macrumors regular

    Jamers99

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    Apr 10, 2015
    Location:
    Lutz, FL
    #16
    I've been using Bose External speakers for the last 3 years so I don't even know what the iMac speakers sandlike anymore. I might unplug them for a while just to do a comparison.
     
  17. Pardus macrumors member

    Pardus

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    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #17

    there is an equalizer in iTunes, have you tried adjusting that?
     
  18. zhu- macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2018
    #18
    I believe that's a myth, at least for most speakers. It's our ears that become more used to the sound style thus sounding better - or so I've heard.
     
  19. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    You Only Live Twice
    #19
    Got my new 2019 imac machine 2 days ago. In my opinion the speakers are distinctly better than in my 2012 iMac. Nothing scientific about it!
     
  20. fisherking macrumors 604

    fisherking

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Location:
    ny somewhere
    #20
    i would never use the internal speakers, but trying it now (am a pro music producer/engineer, fwiw). the speakers... are what they are, but decent. too boomy (an attempt to get bass out of impossibly-thin speakers). i'd prefer them with less boom. but they're clear, warm (not too bright), and the stereo is decent.

    impressive, considering the size and space for speakers in this thing.
     
  21. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #21
    I was unimpressed with the sound of my 2017 iMac 5K compared to my 2015 iMac 5K so I bought the Soundsticks III on an Amazon sale and am most satisfied.
     

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20 April 7, 2019