Apple Thunderbolt display exhibits noise issue with new MacBook Air

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
A number of MacBook Air owners are experiencing audio issues when they connect their laptops to Apple's Thunderbolt display and complain of static, distortion and crackling emanating from the speakers built into the 27-inch screen's chassis.

The problem usually presents itself intermittently after a few hours' use when sound from Apple's new 2012 MacBook Air, which was announced during WWDC in June, is routed through the Thunderbolt display's speakers, reports Electronista.

It should be noted that as of this writing a single report claiming the same issue was found on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, though it seems to be an isolated case not associated with the MacBook Air matter.

An Apple Support Communities thread started on June 23 is now six pages long though the issue seems to be affecting only a small number of users. Owners of both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air have reported identical problems, though some experience the issue more frequently than others.

The exact cause of the problem remains unclear though it could be related to how the thin-and-light's firmware handles audio output. Sound played directly through the MacBook Air's internal speakers are unaffected by the supposed bug meaning the issue lies in the interconnect.

Thunderbolt Display
Apple Thunderbolt display with MacBook Air. | Source: Apple


Forum members have speculated that the adaptor needed to connect Apple's new MagSafe 2 power connector to the Thunderbolt display's power cord is somehow related to the static. This seems unlikely, however, as owners have unsuccessfully attempted to switch adaptors and run the laptop without plugging in to the Thunderbolt display's power connector.

Most users have found that a workaround involving the switching between audio outputs solves the issue for a short time while others note that terminating and restarting an offending application gives temporary relief. Unplugging and replugging all connections also seems to remedy the problem.

Apple is aware of the issue though no official response has been released.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member


    i want a new 13" MBA

  • Reply 2 of 25
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member


    Translation:


     


    Something happened to a few other people.


     


    Not us, but we know because we heard about it on the internet.


     


    We don't have a clue what it is but, ignoring Apple's excellent customer service record in regards to software and hardware issues, and considering it's a quite slow news day, we've decided to make a big deal of it and call it news.


     


     


    Bummer, eh?

  • Reply 3 of 25
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,518member
    gtr wrote: »
    Translation:
    ignoring Apple's excellent customer service record in regards to software and hardware issues
    While it can never be proven, Apple does seem to resolve problems faster when they're given wider publicity. I wouldn't knock it, unless of course you've got too much invested in AAPL.
  • Reply 4 of 25


    I find that an unusual take on the situation. I'm one of the "lucky winners" experiencing this problem - and my attitude, similar to most the people on that thread, is that we just want Apple to acknowledge the problem publicly (not the same as "high profile") and say that they're working on a fix. Then we can go back to enjoying our fancy new hardware until the patch is released. (We're optimistic it's a software problem, not hardware).


     


    (and I agree with cpsro that that Apple tend to fix things quicker when they have wider publicity)

  • Reply 5 of 25
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post


    Translation:


     


    Something happened to a few other people.


     


    Not us, but we know because we heard about it on the internet.


     


    We don't have a clue what it is but, ignoring Apple's excellent customer service record in regards to software and hardware issues, and considering it's a quite slow news day, we've decided to make a big deal of it and call it news.


     


     


    Bummer, eh?





    Yep. You're right. If you don't have an issue, or own Apple stock, suggest that people who dare pretend there might be an issue might be "making a big deal of [nothing]".


    Apple's great. Some of the people gravitating around Apple kinda suck, if you ask me.


     


    Bummer, eh?

  • Reply 6 of 25
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    It's probably just the sound of the thunder.
  • Reply 7 of 25
    hungoverhungover Posts: 603member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by robgough View Post


    I find that an unusual take on the situation. I'm one of the "lucky winners" experiencing this problem - and my attitude, similar to most the people on that thread, is that we just want Apple to acknowledge the problem publicly (not the same as "high profile") and say that they're working on a fix. Then we can go back to enjoying our fancy new hardware until the patch is released. (We're optimistic it's a software problem, not hardware).


     


    (and I agree with cpsro that that Apple tend to fix things quicker when they have wider publicity)



     


    It strikes me that this is an annoyance rather than a major fault, as such i don't understand why firms don't just say, "yep we've had some reports and we are looking into them. We will update owners as soon as we have anything to report".


     


    That way things blow over pretty quickly, bar the odd descending voice complaining about the speed of the fix. The alternative is to wait until you have lots of owners who feel that they are being ignored, turning to the internet and ranting. This then makes the headlines and turns off some potential customers. At this point the firm is now working furiously to find a fix, in the knowledge that any delay makes them look incompetent.


     


    Customers might be a pita from time to time but firms need them more than the customer needs the firm

  • Reply 8 of 25
    victorpvictorp Posts: 3member


    Could it be related to the same audio problem that Anand described in his The Apple Thunderbolt Display Review at http://www.anandtech.com/show/4832/the-apple-thunderbolt-display-review/10 ?

  • Reply 9 of 25
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,912member
    victorp wrote: »
    Could it be related to the same audio problem that Anand described in his The Apple Thunderbolt Display Review at http://www.anandtech.com/show/4832/the-apple-thunderbolt-display-review/10 ?

    Maybe however I'm not so certain all these users are running Promise RAID drives. Worst I see this as another example of Anandtech jumping to conclusions, it is a fair certainty that there is an issue here but it appears to be a long shot to blame Promise.

    The other thing that is weird here is the fact the noise isn't continuous. That is the user can do things to reduce or eliminate the noise for a bit via software. This does cause one to lean towards the idea that it is a software issue, but one needs realize that electrical problems are a possibility.
  • Reply 10 of 25
    jp55jp55 Posts: 15member


    I get the occasional snap and crackle when I use external speakers though the audio out port. 


     


    2012 13" MBA i7 8GB 256GB. 

  • Reply 11 of 25
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    cpsro wrote: »
    While it can never be proven, Apple does seem to resolve problems faster when they're given wider publicity. I wouldn't knock it, unless of course you've got too much invested in AAPL.

    Says who?

    For example, I went into an Apple Store with my iPhone 4. I explained that I was pushed into the pool while wearing the phone and it obviously got soaked. I was able to dry it out and get it working again, but there were intermittent problems. I fully expected to pay the $200 exchange fee, but they said that I didn't have a history of problems, so they replaced it at no charge - first visit, total time in the store under 10 minutes.

    So I would have gotten better and faster service if I had taken out a full page ad in the local paper or started a thread about people who get pushed into a pool with their iPhones? The fact is that Apple has a great reputation for superior service even when NOT blackmailed with bad publicity.
  • Reply 12 of 25


    I believe I have experienced the same problem, I mean the same metallic cracking distortion with my 2010 MBP whilst using FaceTime a few times and once with my 2010 iMac 27'. The sound is quite loud, loud enough to scare the ... out of my missus who I was talking to over FaceTime once, while she was home with the iMac and I was away with the MBP. Once it happens, it will only stop if I restart my macs. I would say that this happened the first time about 2-3 months ago and it seems to be quite random. The only common factor was using FaceTime.

  • Reply 13 of 25
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,417member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post



    It's probably just the sound of the thunder.


    Very en-lightning.

  • Reply 14 of 25
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Says who?

    For example, I went into an Apple Store with my iPhone 4. I explained that I was pushed into the pool while wearing the phone and it obviously got soaked. 


    Did you tell someone that they were a clueless idiot who didn't know what they were talking about right before they pushed you?

  • Reply 15 of 25
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    mstone wrote: »
    Did you tell someone that they were a clueless idiot who didn't know what they were talking about right before they pushed you?

    I see you're sticking with something you're comfortable with - posting fact-free drivel with no bearing on reality.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    I see you're sticking with something you're comfortable with - posting fact-free drivel with no bearing on reality.


    No it was a a legitimate question since your normal style of dialog is telling people they are wrong. I can't imagine why anyone would push a fully clothed phone wearing person into a pool unless they were pretty pissed off.

  • Reply 17 of 25
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    mstone wrote: »
    No it was a a legitimate question since your normal style of dialog is telling people they are wrong. I can't imagine why anyone would push a fully clothed phone wearing person into a pool unless they were pretty pissed off.

    Yes, we know how feeble your imagination is - you don't need to prove it.

    It could be:
    - accident
    - a drunk person
    - Someone distracted by someone else
    - Someone pushing someone out of the way of danger

    Not surprising that you're unable to see anything but your own silly, narrow, fantasies.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    hungoverhungover Posts: 603member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Did you tell someone that they were a clueless idiot who didn't know what they were talking about right before they pushed you?



     I missed that one. S'not a nice thing to say but it did make me chuckle, no disrespect intended to Jragosta


     


    Kudos to mstone, my advice, accept defeat this time jragosta. It was clever (although perhaps not grown up)

  • Reply 19 of 25
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Yes, we know how feeble your imagination is - you don't need to prove it.

    It could be:

    - accident

    - a drunk person

    - Someone distracted by someone else

    - Someone pushing someone out of the way of danger

    Not surprising that you're unable to see anything but your own silly, narrow, fantasies.


    More likely was that your pants were on fire otherwise you would just say what happened.

  • Reply 20 of 25
    hungoverhungover Posts: 603member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    More likely was that your pants were on fire otherwise you would just say what happened.



     sorry but that was a crap come back.


     


    Why not just bask in the glory and leave it as it is

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