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A few weeks ago, the left speaker on my MacBook suddenly "popped" when I received a notification. The volume was not high and no music was playing. It seems that the speaker was overdriven and pretty much self-destructed. It sounded like a very loud bang and the speaker never worked correctly again afterwards. The moment it happened, I noticed a fair amount of heat coming out of the part of my MacBook's chassis where the speaker is hosted.

As this failure was not my fault (I was not playing any sounds at a volume you'd consider reckless), it was replaced by Apple under Warranty.

Since I now have a fully functional MacBook again, I'd like to enjoy its speakers but I'm very wary of the fact that they're vulnerable.

  • Are the 2017 15" MacBook Pro's speakers designed to withstand playing music (primarily Electronic Dance Music in my case) at the maximum volume with negligible wear to the speaker?
  • Given that I generally play music no louder than at 50% volume, will this reduce the risk of damage to the speaker to a negligible level such that long-term use is unlikely to affect the speaker?
  • At some point there was indeed an issue with the Bootcamp Windows drivers that caused irreversible damage to the speakers. Although the issue was fixed, it definitely means that the speakers are capable of self destructing under some conditions. – Jozef Legény Aug 24 '17 at 9:39
  • Hi, may I ask how long the repair took? I have the same problem now - after I have waken up my MBP, it started to make hard click sounds. I immediately shut it off, but the damage was done. Now the internal right subwoofer makes hissing noise when playing :( – Petr Újezdský Nov 19 '17 at 13:01
  • After being brought to the Apple Store, it took a week because they didn't have the part in stock. If the part is in stock, it can be done within a day. In my case, it took a bit of back-and-forth because the part got replaced wrong multiple ways (once with the wrong keyboard layout, once with keyboard issues) – Gabriele Cirulli Nov 20 '17 at 19:13
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Yes, high volume on an underpowered amp, can damage your speakers.

The problem comes in when the audio starts to clip or distort - the loud "pop" you heard is a good example of what can damage a speaker.

There's lots of discussion about this on AV forums.

Are the 2017 15" MacBook Pro's speakers designed to withstand playing music (primarily Electronic Dance Music in my case) at the maximum volume with negligible wear to the speaker?

That depends. At what input level was the music recorded? If you must crank up the volume because you can't hear it (assuming your hearing is good), then it was recorded to low. If you simply need more volume on a consistent basis requiring you to be at max, it's time for an external amplifier and speaker setup.

Given that I generally play music no louder than at 50% volume, will this reduce the risk of damage to the speaker to a negligible level such that long-term use is unlikely to affect the speaker?

That depends. At what input level was the music recorded? If the input was very high, playing at 50% might still be "too loud" for the speakers. The key here is clipping and distortion. If the sound begins to distort but you need the volume at that level, it's time to get an external amplifier and speaker setup.

I personally had noise (pops and distortion) on my speakers and I solved it by using an external DAC (digital audio converter) and external speakers (Bose Wave Radio).

Finally, the one thing that I learned (from an audio engineer) from trying to set up an audio presentation in a gymnasium (worst case scenario) is it's better to have more "larger" amplified speakers at lower volume than to have fewer speakers driven at or near maximum volume. The quality of the sound is just immensely better and you don't risk damaging your equipment

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  • Thanks for the thoughtful response. Unfortunately I'm not technical enough to answer about what the input level of the music is. All I can say is this is the average music you'd find on Spotify or SoundCloud. Spotify is set to "make tracks sound like they're all the same volume". I don't think I've ever experienced distortion on these speakers, again I mostly play at 50% volume and avoid making it louder than necessary. The pop that broke my speakers was surely a hardware/software glitch, since the original notification sound would not have been able to do such a thing. – Gabriele Cirulli Aug 28 '17 at 9:52
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No. They rigorously test these scenarios before they role out.

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