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I am experiencing odd "click" noises from my MBP, while sound is muted, it's unplugged from the power source (ie running only on battery), and Windows in Parallels shows a message dialog.

To reproduce:

  • Unplug the laptop (right now, 94% battery)
  • Ensure the volume is muted
  • In Windows on Parallels, do something that shows a message dialog
  • A loud "click" will be heard. It sounds plasticky or staticky, like the pop you get when plugging in a speaker to a powered amp, and I can't trace it to either speaker - it seems to come more from the back center or back right (maybe the right-side speaker) of the laptop. Two seconds later, a second, slightly quieter click will occur while the message dialog is still open.

The laptop is muted, absolutely.

Is there another sound source in a MBP, apart from the speakers? Why would this happen when showing a dialog - could it be a mechanical change in the laptop itself, caused by something to do with the video card?

  • Early 2011 model MBP
  • Yosemite, fully up to date
  • At the time, running Parallels 9 hosting Windows 7
  • Volume does not have to be muted for this to happen, but it does happen when the laptop volume is muted, making me think it may not be a sound from the speaker (?)

Edit: The original question was that this happened for a low battery warning. Since it's now happening with a nearly full battery, and it seems to be related to message dialogs, the fact the messages were about a low battery is a coincidence.

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The pops you hear are due to the sound card turning on then turning off. It is more obvious if you connect your laptop to an external sound system. Unfortunately it isn't something you can control/change on your system. I'm guessing that Apple does this so that the sound card doesn't play interference sounds (hums, whines, etc) from power sources, cell phones, etc.

Although it might be more obvious with the Windows dialog and alert sound, it is not just Parallels. I have the same problem in Parallels, VMware Fusion, in every Mac application, and even the Finder.

For example, try pressing the volume up and down buttons on your keyboard and listen very carefully. Just before the volume change sound plays, you will hear the pop as it turns on. About 3 seconds later, you will hear another pop as it turns off. (If the volume sound doesn't play when you press the volume buttons, hold down shift).

Another example is to play a movie in Quicktime Player where it is completely silent at the start. When you press Play, you will get the pop. The "off" pop will happen about 3 seconds after you close the movie window or quit Quicktime Player.

If it bothers you a lot, a total hack workaround I've found is to get Audio Hijack Pro. Install and run it then from the Audio Hijack Pro menu, select Install Extras and install the Instant On option. In the main window, select the System Audio entry and click the Hijack button. You will hear the pop as AHP turns on the sound card. Since the sound card is already on, other apps like Parallels won't cause the pops to happen. Simply hide or minimize the AHP application and it will keep the sound card active.

AHP is free but any recordings over 10 minutes will have noise added. Since we are just hijacking and not actually recording anything, you shouldn't have any problems with the free version.

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  • nice work, deserves a + from me :) – Ruskes Dec 18 '14 at 5:05
  • Nice - that makes sense! – David Dec 18 '14 at 11:01
  • Any idea why it's audible only when on battery, though? Is the sound card permanently on when not on battery, perhaps? I've never heard the pops before, including when turning the laptop on, which presumably powers up the sound card too... – David Dec 18 '14 at 12:43
  • Not sure about that. I have a couple of 2011 MBPs and they both do this on all the time, battery and AC power. In fact, my testing while writing up my answer was while at my desk with the MBP connected to power via Thunderbolt Display cable. If it is really bad and you still have AppleCare coverage, have Apple look it over. Could be a faulty sound card, power management card, or even something on the motherboard. – Insomniac Software Dec 18 '14 at 15:50
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This is a bug that sometimes occures on Parallels desktop (PD) 9.

Sometimes reinstalling PD can solve this problem.

You can drag PD to the trash bin and install it again. After that you can import your existing virtual machine or just open it by clicking on it. I this it is located in Document/Parallels Desktop/

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  • Interesting! Do you have a link to the Parallels bug knowledgebase or similar, please? – David Dec 15 '14 at 21:42
  • Hi, I contacted Parallels desktop support with this problem. They gave me a link, but I deleted the mail :( You could try this link to see if it solves your problem: link – Jules Dec 16 '14 at 7:50
  • Thanks. I'll contact them too. It is bizarre that a VM issue can cause sound output on a supposedly muted machine... but not impossible ;) – David Dec 16 '14 at 10:53
  • Indeed, maybe when you can't solve the problem, you could also try to reinstall windows. I'm not sure if that can solve the problem. – Jules Dec 16 '14 at 18:12
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This seems to be a six months old thread, however I just wanted to add a quick if not very elegant workaround to this problem.

I'm using Parallels Desktop 10.2.1 on Yosemite 10.10.3 running on Mid-2010 15" MacBook Pro and I seem to be affected by the weird clicking noise, even if the sound in my Mac is muted.

The workaround I found is to plug and then un-plug headphones into the headphones port. Whatever this does, it seems to fix the clicking sounds and most of the time I carry headphones with me anyways, so it's not a big deal.

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  • Thanks Mike! I still have the problem occasionally, and I'll try out your solution next time it occurs. – David May 27 '15 at 10:26
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I had, and it seems, after I researched the topic, like many other people, a problem of hearing popping sounds when running Windows in Parallels. Everytime Windows was giving out an sound or audio signal, I just heard a popping noise, like plugging in speakers or an amp. The solution that worked for me is described on the following page.

http://glimpseoftheobvious.blogspot.it/2014/02/how-to-fix-annoying-popping-audio-with.html

Briefly, the approach described there involves the following:

The problem can be solved by adjusting the audio properties of that virtual machine and changing the audio format. To fix the problem, navigate to the Windows Control Panel and open the Sound properties interface. Once the dialog box opens you'll see four tabs at the top. Select the "playback" tab, where you will see the audio device "speakers". With "speakers" selected click the properties button to expose the "speakers properties" dialog box. Go to the "advanced" tab. You will now see the currently selected default format and the play button to test a format. Clicking the test button will most likely generate more popping sounds.

Try changing the default format to something other than the current selection. The default selection will most likely be 16 bit, 44,100 Hz CD quality. Set your default selection back to the 16 bit, 44,100 Hz CD quality after trying a few other formats. This seems to reset somehow the drivers.

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  • 1
    While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. – Tetsujin Jun 29 '15 at 7:58
  • hobie - thanks for the answer! As Tetsujin says, can you edit your answer to include the relevant details, please? This site tries to keep knowledge on the site, since links can vanish. (It's quite fine to have a link, just please include the key bits here too.) – David Jun 29 '15 at 12:01

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