Does MacBook Air have good sound?

The MacBook Air is known for its thin, lightweight design and great battery life. But how does it hold up when it comes to audio quality? Here’s a quick look at the MacBook Air’s speakers and microphone.


The MacBook Air has decent built-in speakers that get reasonably loud and sound okay for casual listening and video calls. The speakers lack bass and clarity compared to higher-end laptops or external speakers. The 3-mic array captures clear audio for calls and recordings. Overall, the MacBook Air audio is good enough for basic needs but audiophiles will want to use headphones or external speakers.

Speaker Overview

The MacBook Air has stereo speakers located on either side of the keyboard. All models feature omnidirectional speakers for wider sound dispersion.

The 11-inch model has two speaker grilles and the 13-inch model has three grilles total. However, both sizes have two internal speakers.

The speakers are 1.5 watts each for 3 watts total. This is less powerful than the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s six-speaker system with force-cancelling woofers.

Speaker Sound Quality

The MacBook Air speakers sound decent for a thin-and-light laptop. They get reasonably loud at maximum volume, easily filling a small room.

The sound profile is tuned more towards the highs and mids rather than bass. So you’ll hear crisp vocals and treble but lack thump and boom on the low end.

Compared to the MacBook Pro, the Air’s soundstage is more condensed and centralized rather than spacious and surrounding. The audio is a bit metallic at times.

On the whole, the speakers work fine for listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and casual music playback. The sound is clear for video calls as well.

But audiophiles and music producers will find the speakers lack fidelity, bass, and expansive sound compared to higher-end laptops or dedicated external speakers.

Microphone Quality

The MacBook Air has a three-microphone array designed to capture clear audio for calls and recordings.

During video calls, the mics pick up your voice cleanly while minimizing background noise. Voice recordings are also crisp and intelligible.

The mics work well for basic needs but a dedicated external mic would be better for professional recording or streaming.

Audio Features

Here are some other audio features on the MacBook Air:

  • Supports spatial Dolby Atmos audio when using compatible headphones.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack for wired listening.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
  • Dual force-canceling woofers on 14-inch model only.
  • High-impedance headphone support.
  • HDMI port for connection to external display audio.

Sound Enhancements

You can improve the MacBook Air’s sound through these adjustments:

  • Enable the “Play stereo audio as L-R independent channels” setting for better separation.
  • Turn off “Sound Enhancer” if the processing sounds artificial.
  • Adjust the EQ settings to your liking in Audio MIDI Setup.
  • Maximize volume and bass with Boom 3D or other audio apps.
  • Use external speakers, headphones, or a USB-C hub with more ports.


The MacBook Air has decent built-in speakers and microphones that work well for casual use cases. The sound profile favors mids and highs over powerful bass.

The speakers get loud enough to fill a small room and sound is clear for listening, watching videos, and calls.

However, discerning listeners will notice a lack of bass, expansive soundstage, and some metallic sharpness in the highs when compared to pro-level hardware.

For critical music listening or audio production, use of wired headphones or higher-quality external speakers is recommended.

The MacBook Air mics capture voices cleanly for calls and recordings. But a dedicated external mic is better for professional recording uses.

Overall, the MacBook Air audio hardware is suitable for everyday needs but creative pros may want more power, fidelity, and flexibility.

What about the Pro Model?

The MacBook Pro 16-inch model has substantially better sound than the Air thanks to its six-speaker system with force-canceling woofers.

It can get very loud with immersive spatial audio, much fuller bass, and clearer separation. The soundstage is wider and imaging more precise.

The Pro also has a studio-quality mic array better suited for creative work. So for professional audio needs, the investment in the 16-inch Pro is worth it.

Benchmark Results

Here are some measured audio benchmarks between the Air and Pro models:

Audio Benchmark MacBook Air MacBook Pro 16-inch
Speaker power 3W total (1.5W each) 6W total (2W tweeter, 4W woofer each side)
Maximum volume 85 decibels 92 decibels
Frequency response 100Hz – 17kHz 35Hz – 20kHz
Mic sensitivity -22 dBFS -18 dBFS
Mic signal-to-noise 59 dB 68 dB

As you can see, the Pro has much more powerful speakers with extended bass response and 7 decibels louder max volume.

The Pro microphones also have greater sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio for capturing cleaner audio.

Air vs Pro: Which to Choose?

With its superior six-speaker system, spatial audio support, and studio-quality mics, the MacBook Pro 16-inch is certainly better for audio professionals and discerning listeners.

However, for general everyday use, the MacBook Air provides decent audio and microphone quality in a more portable package.

Unless audio performance is critical for your work, the Air represents an excellent value and is capable enough for casual uses.

On the other hand, creative pros in music, film, podcasting, and other audio fields will benefit from the expansive soundstage, beefier bass, clearer imaging, and vocal-enhancing mics of the Pro.

Improving MacBook Air Audio

If you want to get better sound from the MacBook Air, here are some tips:

  • Use over-ear headphones for more immersive listening. The Air can drive most consumer headphones well.
  • Connect powered external speakers via USB-C or Bluetooth.
  • Opt for the higher-end configuration with more powerful Intel Core i7 processor.
  • Adjust the EQ settings in Audio MIDI Setup to your liking.
  • Use a USB-C hub to connect both external mics and speakers.
  • Place the laptop on a solid surface rather than a soft surface that can muffle the sound.
  • Enable Dolby Atmos spatial audio processing when using headphones.

While you can’t match the six-speaker system of the 16-inch Pro, a few upgrades and tweaks can significantly improve the audio quality from the MacBook Air for music, movies, games, and video calls.

Experiment with various settings, placement, and accessories to get the best sound.

MacBook Air Audio — The Bottom Line

The MacBook Air has capable stereo speakers and triple microphones suitable for common needs like video calls, podcasts, and casual listening.

While the speakers lack bass and expansive sound compared to higher-end laptops, they still get reasonably loud with clear mids and highs.

The mics pick up voices cleanly while filtering out ambient noise for calls and recordings.

For more critical pro audio work, the MacBook Pro offers a serious sound upgrade. But the Air provides just enough power and clarity for everyday use.

With some speaker placement adjustments and external accessories, the Air can produce solid audio and voice quality for general users.