Why are my Mac speakers popping?

If you notice popping, crackling, or distorted sounds coming from your Mac’s speakers, there are a few potential causes to check out. The good news is that speaker popping is usually an easy fix once you identify the underlying problem.

Quick Fixes for Speaker Popping

Here are some quick things to try if your Mac speakers are popping:

  • Check the volume – Turn down the volume on your Mac in case it’s set too high. High volumes can cause speaker distortion.
  • Adjust audio enhancers – Disable any audio enhancer settings like EQ presets as they can sometimes cause popping.
  • Restart your Mac – A simple restart can clear up temporary software issues causing popping sounds.
  • Check connections – Make sure all cables connected to your Mac are securely plugged in.
  • Test different audio sources – Determine if the popping only happens with a particular app or files. This can help isolate the issue.

If you’ve tried the quick fixes and the speakers are still popping, read on for some more in-depth troubleshooting steps.

Software Causes of Speaker Popping

Problems with your Mac’s software settings are a common reason for speaker popping and audio glitches. Here are some software-related issues to look into:

Audio Settings

Check your Mac’s audio settings in System Preferences > Sound. Try changing the audio output device or lowering the volume to see if that helps. Disable any audio enhancements like bass boost as well.

App Issues

The popping might be isolated to a particular app. Test different media players and streaming services to see if one app consistently causes popping. Updating the app or reinstalling it may help.

OS Update Issues

Popping can sometimes start after a MacOS update. If the speakers worked fine before an OS update, try rolling back the update or installing the latest update if available.

Incompatible Audio Driver

Using an incompatible or outdated audio driver for your speakers can result in popping and distortion. Check for driver updates from the hardware manufacturer.

Hardware Causes of Speaker Popping

Besides software, hardware-related problems can also lead to popping speakers. Here are some common hardware issues:

Faulty Speakers

If your Mac’s built-in speakers are popping, they may simply be failing. Age, damage or hardware defects can cause speakers to start cracking and malfunctioning.

Cable and Connection Problems

Damaged or loose speaker cables are a prime cause of popping and static sounds. Try disconnecting and reconnecting cables or swapping cables to isolate the problem.

Ground Loop Hum

A ground loop hum can manifest as popping or crackling sounds from speakers. This usually happens when connecting Macs to other audio equipment. Using a ground loop isolator may solve the problem.

Electrical Interference

Nearby electrical devices like phones, routers and chargers can sometimes cause interference that leads to speaker popping noises on a Mac. Try moving devices farther away.

Blown Amplifier

For external speakers connected to your Mac, a damaged or blown amplifier can distort the audio signal and cause popping. You’ll likely need to replace the speakers in this case.

How to Isolate the Cause of Popping

To pinpoint what’s causing your speakers to pop, systematically test different components to isolate the issue:

  • Switch audio outputs – Try different built-in speakers, headphones, and external speakers to see if one works properly.
  • Test different audio sources – Play audio from streaming apps, local files, DVDs etc. See if the popping is consistent.
  • Check various system settings – Toggle audio settings like EQ and enhancements on and off.
  • Inspect connections – Wiggle cables to see if the popping changes. Try different cables if possible.
  • Listen closely – Note if the popping happens at specific times like during processor-intensive tasks.
  • Update software – Install the latest OS, driver, app, and firmware updates related to your Mac’s audio.

By testing different configurations, you should be able to determine if the popping is due to a hardware defect or a software issue. Take notes on when the popping happens to help identify patterns.

How to Fix Mac Speaker Popping

Once you’ve isolated the root cause, you can take steps to fix speaker popping on your Mac:

Adjust Software Settings

If a particular audio setting or app enhancement is causing the popping, disable or uninstall it. Updating software can also resolve glitches. Changing output devices may help as well.

Check Connections

Inspect connections to make sure all cables are plugged in properly. Swap out cables if needed. For external speakers, try different power sources and audio inputs.

Update or Roll Back OS

If system updates are the culprit, roll back the OS update or install new updates. Keep your MacOS version up-to-date to prevent audio glitches.

Isolate Interference

Keep phones, routers, chargers and other electricals away from your Mac to prevent interference. Use surge protectors, ferrites beads and isolators.

Replace Faulty Hardware

For broken built-in speakers or amplifiers, replacement may be the only fix. External speakers, sound cards and USB audio adapters can provide alternative audio outputs.

Clean Your Mac

Use compressed air to blow out any dust or debris that may be interfering with moving speaker parts and causing popping. Don’t use liquids.

How to Prevent Future Speaker Popping

Once resolved, you can take proactive steps to help prevent a recurrence of speaker popping:

  • Update software regularly – Keep MacOS, drivers, firmware and apps up-to-date.
  • Manage cables carefully – Avoid kinking cables. Wrap and store properly when not in use.
  • Minimize electrical interference – Keep routers, chargers, phones away from audio equipment.
  • Use surge protectors – Adds extra protection against power spikes that can damage speakers.
  • Lower volume – Avoid maxing out volume which can overdrive speakers.
  • inspect speakers routinely – Periodically check speakers and cables for damage.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you’ve tried all the above troubleshooting tips and the speakers keep popping, you may need professional help:

  • Persisting software issues – If OS reinstalls and settings reset don’t work, there may be a deeper system problem.
  • Hardware defects – For suspected hardware faults like blown amplifiers, professional repairs may be needed.
  • Intermittent issues – Tricky popping that’s hard to reproduce will require tech expertise.
  • Out of warranty damage – Repair centers can fix speaker damage not covered by Apple’s warranty.
  • Unsure of cause – If you can’t isolate the cause, an experienced technician can investigate.

Apple Geniuses at Apple Stores offer expert tech support and repairs for Mac hardware issues. Apple Authorized Service Providers also specialize in fixing Apple products. For software-specific issues, consult an Apple technician or IT professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did my Mac speakers suddenly start popping?

Some common reasons Mac speakers suddenly pop are: a new OS update installed with buggy audio drivers, new interference from electronic devices placed nearby, cables worked loose, or age-related hardware deterioration.

Do Mac speaker pops mean hardware damage?

Not always. Speaker pops can be caused by software bugs and settings as well. However, persistent popping and distortion may indicate hardware damage like failed solder joints or blown amps.

Can using compressed air fix Mac speaker pops?

Possibly. Blowing compressed air into the speakers can dislodge dust that may be interrupting the speaker cone movement and causing popping. But don’t use liquids to clean speakers.

Why do my Mac speakers pop when sound is playing?

If the pops mainly happen during audio playback, the likely culprits are interference from nearby electronics, software audio glitches, and problems with the audio cable connections.

Do Mac speaker pops damage hearing?

It’s unlikely speaker pops can directly damage hearing. However, the underlying issue causing the pops could potentially damage speakers and amplifiers when left unresolved.

Cause Solution
Faulty cable Inspect connections, swap cables
Electrical interference Isolate/move devices farther away
App issues Reinstall or update app
OS update problem Roll back or install new updates
Volume too loud Lower system volume
Outdated driver Update audio driver
Hardware defect Repair or replace speakers


Crackling and popping from Mac speakers can be annoying, but the problem typically has a quick software or hardware fix once the source is identified. Start with simple steps like checking connections and isolating interference. For hardware faults like blown speakers, seek professional repairs as needed. With consistent care and maintenance of your audio system, you can minimize speaker pops and enjoy glitch-free sound.