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Very poor audio/speaker quality iMac 2019

ferencav

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2019
40
20
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?
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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The Sillie Con Valley
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.
 
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ferencav

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2019
40
20
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?
 
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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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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.
 
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ferencav

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2019
40
20
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.
 
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auduchinok

macrumors newbie
Sep 26, 2017
11
1
Primarily I want to know if other people are experiencing the same drop in audio quality.
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.
 
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ferencav

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2019
40
20
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.
 
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chabig

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Sep 6, 2002
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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.
 
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smoking monkey

macrumors 65816
Mar 5, 2008
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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.
 
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ferencav

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 31, 2019
40
20
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.
 
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mikehalloran

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Benz63amg

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LauraJean

macrumors regular
Jan 7, 2015
129
122
Denver, CO
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?
[doublepost=1554863660][/doublepost]I listened to each with Sennheiser wired headphones, and preferred the 2019 recording because there was better balance between base and treble.
 
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Jamers99

macrumors regular
Apr 10, 2015
182
119
Lutz, FL
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.
 
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Pardus

macrumors member
Aug 9, 2006
53
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Vancouver, BC
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.


there is an equalizer in iTunes, have you tried adjusting that?
 
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zhu-

macrumors newbie
Nov 13, 2018
17
11
Also speakers need time to wear in, don't they? That's what I've always heard anyway.

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.
 
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fisherking

macrumors 604
Jul 16, 2010
7,540
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ny somewhere
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.
 
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im_the_guy

macrumors newbie
Dec 15, 2017
8
0
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?



Hi mate. I have the 2019 27" iMac aswell. I think the speakers have too much bass! I found the EQ hidden in iTunes - Window - EQ. I turned the bass down. I think the size of the computer and the fact that the speakers are larger than they used to be, along with the thin design cause them to sound dissapointing to say the least in certain environments, placement in the room being a big reason. Try moving the computer to a room with more of an acoustic area and see if it works. Other than that i cant help you.

Thanks
 
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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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Hmmm... this thread is still alive. Ok...

I never really listened to music on my iMac Pro. I meant to but hooked up my studio monitors instead.

Just for kicks, I disconnected my monitors and listened to some Steely Dan. Ok... an iMac Pro sounds a lot better than my 2010 or 2011 iMac. I'll never do that again.
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.
Absolutely not a myth. Speakers need break-in time. No studio would ever attempt to calibrate the playback system before then. What happens is that the cone surrounds become more flexible within the first 8–20 hours of playback which increases bass response. Although most noticeable with lacquered paper and cloth surrounds, rubber and foam surrounds break in, too.

Is it really going to have any noticeable impact on those tiny downward-firing speakers in an iMac? Hmmmm???? Does sound farfetched so, in this case, I agree.
 
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im_the_guy

macrumors newbie
Dec 15, 2017
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0
Hmmm... this thread is still alive. Ok...

I never really listened to music on my iMac Pro. I meant to but hooked up my studio monitors instead.

Just for kicks, I disconnected my monitors and listened to some Steely Dan. Ok... an iMac Pro sounds a lot better than my 2010 or 2011 iMac. I'll never do that again.

Absolutely not a myth. Speakers need break-in time. No studio would ever attempt to calibrate the playback system before then. What happens is that the cone surrounds become more flexible within the first 8–20 hours of playback which increases bass response. Although most noticeable with lacquered paper and cloth surrounds, rubber and foam surrounds break in, too.

Is it really going to have any noticeable impact on those tiny downward-firing speakers in an iMac? Hmmmm???? Does sound farfetched so, in this case, I agree.
[doublepost=1561667007][/doublepost]But the iMac Pro speakers are much better than the iMac speakers since the iMac isn't a professional peice of gear TO APPLE. The speakers aren't big or small but they are positioned behind the screen near the top at the edges with the speakers holes by the bottom. I think the drivers are good but their placement inside the computer causes the bass to escape the enclosure much more than any trebble or middle
 
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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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The iMP speakers do not meet any Pro standard for sound reproduction except, perhaps, that of Apple's marketing department.

Ya want decent sound from a Mac — any Mac? It's gonna cost ya some coin. Don't need much if you follow any of the links in previous posts.
 
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