Why Are My MacBook Speakers So Quiet?

MacBooks are wonderful high-end machines. There’s a level of quality that we’ve come to expect from Apple products, and so when something as basic as your system volume isn’t working right, we’re naturally going to be quite frustrated. So, if you are wondering, ‘why are my MacBook speakers so quiet?’ then we’ve got some potential answers for you.

The most common reasons for your MacBook speakers being so quiet are improper volume settings, loose hardware connections, applications overriding your settings, legacy OS versions, or the sound driver might need to be restarted.   

Today we’ll tell you how to look for each of these possibilities and let you know what you can do to correct them so that you can get your MacBook back to sounding like the marvel of technology that it truly is. Without further ado, let’s get started!

First, let’s simply check the volume

Checking out that nobody had simply turned down your volume when you weren’t around is easy. All we need to do is tap on the F12 key on your MacBook, as this is a shortcut key for turning the volume up. You should see your volume setting go up, and this gives you an instant indicator of whether or not it was accidentally turned down.

Check your hardware

If you are using external speakers, there is always the chance of getting a short in the wires. This is especially true if you have more than one system and you switch out the speakers a lot. Try unplugging your speakers from the jack and plugging them back in first. If this has no effect on the sound quality, set your MacBook to play a song or music playlist.

While the media is playing, try ‘wiggling’ the wire slightly from end to end to see if the volume jumps at any point. If it does, then you’ve got a short in your speaker wire; if not, then we may proceed to the next step.

We’ll need to rule out other applications overriding your volume settings

There are a lot of fun apps out there, but sometimes they have their own sound drivers, which may interfere with your default driver. We want to rule this out, so we will need to check the audio output settings in your MacBook to rule out this issue.

You’ll want to go into your System Preferences, and from here, you will select the ‘Sound’ option. Next, select the tab which is labeled ‘Output’ and see what is listed and selected there. If you see that an item that is checked looks suspiciously like an App, then it is likely what is overriding your default audio. Uninstalling the app is the quickest way to resolve this issue.

Why Are My JLab Earbuds So Quiet?
Why Are My JLab Earbuds So Quiet?

If your sound issue is only occurring when you are using a certain app, then you will need to check the individual settings on that application, as many apps such as Safari or iTunes have their own specific volume controls, which may be set differently from your default system volume settings.

Try restarting the sound controller

If you haven’t restarted your system in a long time, restarting the sound controller may be just what the doctor ordered. To do this, simply use the following steps:

  • From your Apple menu, go to ‘Applications’ and then ‘Utilities’ and select your Activity Monitor.
  • Type ‘coreaudiod’ within the search field and your search should locate this quickly. This is your core sound driver.
  • Select coreaudiod and click on the ‘X’ in order to close it. This driver should restart itself immediately so that you may check to see if your sound is now fully restored.

Are you running the latest MacOS version?

We will want to make sure that you are running the latest Mac OD X version, which is called ‘Big Sur’ and has a version number of 11.5.1. In order to check your version number, simply select your Apple menu, and we want to choose ‘About This Mac.’

Here you will find the version number for your operating system, and there is also a handy ‘software update’ which will check for updates and let you install them. Note: Before installing updates, consider backing up your Mac OS with a program like ‘Time Machine’ or the preferred backup method of your choice.

If updating the OS does nothing to improve the sound, then we are ready to proceed to the next section.

Try running maintenance scripts to declutter your MacBook

In the course of normal operation, your system creates numerous temporary files, and these need to be cleaned up from time to time. Macbooks running OS X are actually running a Unix-based operating system, and if you know how to do it, you can run these scripts on your own.

These scripts are designed to clean up your system, and they normally run automatically every day between 3:15 and 5:30 am. Unfortunately, if your system is shut down or happens to be ‘sleeping’ during this time, then the scripts will not run, and you must do it manually.

Websites like ‘The X Lab’ have steps for running maintenance scripts on your Macbook, such as this listing here. Alternately, you can download apps like CleanMyMac X, which allow you to run these scripts without having to utilize a long set of steps through OS X’s brand of Unix.

Note: Be sure to back up your system before running any sort of maintenance script. While the built-in scripts shouldn’t hurt the system, it is always a good policy to back up your current setup before initiating any maintenance or upgrade steps on your MacBook.

Some final advice on restoring full sound

Today we’ve outlined the most common fixes for sound issues you might encounter on your MacBook. If you’ve ruled out loose connections, OS, overriding applications, and the remaining items we’ve listed today, then you should contact MacBook support. They may be able to provide you with an updated driver or a model-specific fix that can get you up and running quickly.

Just be sure to go through the steps that we’ve listed today first, as these should fix about 99% of sound issues that you encounter on your MacBook!

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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