MacBook Pro 'popping' sound bug returns in new 16-inch model

in General Discussion edited June 2020
A number of users are reporting a popping or clicking sound from the speakers on the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, similar to a recurring problem that has affected Apple's portable Macs over the last several years.

The new 16-inch MacBook Pro
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro

Some owners of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro say they're hearing repeated popping or clicking sounds coming from the device's speakers. The problem does not appear to be consistent and there's no information about how widespread it is. But there are claims that it is even affecting the 16-inch MacBook Pro models on display in Apple Stores.

If you get the problem, what happens is that when you're playing any audio or video, when you stop it, skip to another part, or close the window, you get this sound. It's similar to the clipping you can get when audio peaks too high, or when speakers are abruptly switched off and on.

AppleInsider reader Rene says that he has this problem. He suspects that the manifestation is related to Final Cut Pro X.

"I bought a new 16 inch last Saturday and I also have the issue and I'm currently in contact with Apple Support to fix the issue," he said.

Currently 195 people have said on an Apple Support discussion forum that they have the problem.

One, with the username gymnast79, has captured the problem on film.

So far Apple has not officially responded to the issue, though reportedly some people are hearing that the company is aware of it.

There are various workarounds that people have discovered will alleviate the problem. "A work around is to open up QuickTime [Player]," reader Rene told us, "hit new audio recording without actually starting to record. Just keeping this window open will eliminate the unexpected sound."

Others report that starting a video or audio in YouTube or SoundCloud in your brower, then leaving to go to another page helps. You get the popping sound as you leave that first page, but then allegedly it goes away at least temporarily.

Supporting rumors that it's related to using Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7, the site run by professional users of this video editing software, also reports that the problem is severe.

"[When] we came to edit our first look video, we found a problem," writes Peter Wiggins. "Nearly every time we pressed the space bar for play or stop, we got an annoying loud click from the speakers." Wiggins, too, filmed the sound.

"So having convinced ourselves there really was a problem," he continued, "we contacted Apple. They saw the issue first hand and they are already investigating. Ever [get] the feeling we might see Final Cut Pro X 10.4.8 out soon?"

At present, there doesn't seem to be a large volume of people seeking service help for the problem -- but there isn't much data in regards to infant failures of the model as a whole as of yet.

Not the first time

While it has never been a tremendously widespread problem, nonetheless, this popping or clicking sound is actually a recurring issue with Apple equipment.

In 2017, AppleInsider reported on how heavy users of the then-current 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar were getting this problem.

"A small proportion of users with the 2016 MacBook Pro," we wrote, "are reporting hearing a pinging, or popping noise, described as similar to that of crushing a plastic bottle, seemingly related to thermal conditions in the laptop."

At the time, we contacted 10 Apple Stores and half reported having seen the problem at least once.

Back in 2016, the problem affected people using Boot Camp to run Windows on their MacBook Pro.

Then all the way back in 2007, Apple updated Mac OS X Tiger specifically to eradicate this popping sound that had been found on Intel-based Macs since the previous 10.4.10 update.


  • Reply 1 of 11
    The way I initially read the title of the article incorrectly would have made for a much funnier article.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    does not matter if it is one person of all the people who bought the macbook pro, the news will turn it into something big. like lady not getting the highest credit rating on apple card while detailing no actual evidence that she was in the same credit worthiness as her partner.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    I believe I have heard it but it was not common. 
    One thing that is very common and easily reproducible is the problems with Thunderbolt docks in clamshell mode. That seriously needs fixed.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,307member
    The popping is normal, used as an warning to say "missing internal SD card slot."  When the slot returns, the popping will cease.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    Massive DC offset in the DAC?
  • Reply 6 of 11
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,454member
    I have had this happen on both of my 2018 15" MBPs. When I restart it goes away. Are these persistent after a reboot?
  • Reply 7 of 11
    This happens often on my 16" MBP. I don't have FCPX. I just figured it's a bug that they'll fix with a software/firmware update. Now it sounds like that may not be the case if older ones are still doing it? 
  • Reply 8 of 11
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,520member
    wafflelad said:
    This happens often on my 16" MBP. I don't have FCPX. I just figured it's a bug that they'll fix with a software/firmware update. Now it sounds like that may not be the case if older ones are still doing it? 
    My brother in law had an issue with his 15" 2017 MacBook Pro where loud sounds, such as an explosion in a movie or the Sega game sound, would cause the speakers to either continuously pop or simply stop working altogether until the laptop was restarted.

    In the end they replaced the speakers, which due to the piss poor design of the laptop meant replacing the entire keyboard and motherboard along with the speakers. That has fixed it, so hopefully it won't reoccur.

    Fingers crossed that the issue reported here is just some software glitch.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    Only does this on my 16-inch in web-based video like YouTube. A fix is coming according to Apple.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,753member
    I suspect this is something to do with power saving. The audio chips in Apple gear power down when idle, and you can hear a slight noise when they power back up - at least in the iPhones of yore with a headphone jack. Maybe this is going overboard somehow and causing excessive noise.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Appleish said:
    Only does this on my 16-inch in web-based video like YouTube. A fix is coming according to Apple.
    Yup, but this year hasn't exactly been stellar for Apple's software quality. And I'm not just talking about planning a bug fix release before your main release has even dropped. There's also the stuff like the insane setup needed to get multi-user support on the HomePods. 

    Rapid fixes are great. Testing properly is better.
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