Why are my MacBook speakers crackling and how to fix it?

MacBook speakers crackling — anything from a faint but audible and distracting noise to a much louder buzzing — can be annoying. Most likely, though, it is not a hardware problem with the speakers themselves, so the issue is probably fixable. Keep on reading to learn what to do about new MacBook Pro speakers crackling — our tips apply to all Mac models.

Why are my MacBook speakers crackling?

So, you’re asking yourself, ‘Why are my MacBook Pro speakers crackling?’ As with any problem on your MacBook Pro M1/M2/M3 or any other Mac, crackling speakers have two possible causes: hardware and software. Hardware problems that may cause your MacBook speakers to crackle include excessive humidity, moisture, dust and debris, and even electrical interference. Software causes include software conflicts, bugs, problems with audio drivers, and high demands placed on your Mac’s CPU.

The trick to fixing your MacBook speakers crackling is to first identify the cause.


Your MacBook M1 Pro speakers crackling could be a symptom of a wider problem with your Mac. In fact, it is true for any Mac, not only the newest M1/M2/M3 models. One way to limit software issues is to carry out regular maintenance. Just like a car or a property, maintaining your Mac regularly will mean it will last longer and run more smoothly. This maintenance includes running macOS maintenance scripts, repairing disk permissions, and freeing up purgeable disk space. You could do some of these things manually and perform others using different apps. But it’s much easier to use one application to do everything. We recommend CleanMyMac X. Its Maintenance module can do all of those tasks, as well as free up RAM, reindex Spotlight, and thin out Time Machine snapshots — all with just a few clicks. Best of all, CleanMyMac X is free to download here, so you can try it out for yourself.

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How to fix it when your MacBook speakers are crackling

When trying to identify and fix any problem on your Mac, it’s always best to start with the most likely causes and eliminate them. And then move on to those that are a little less likely but easy to fix. Software causes are much easier to deal with, so we’ll start with those.

1. Check for macOS updates

    Is macOS up to date? It may be that there’s a bug in the version of macOS you’re running that has been fixed in a more recent version. Go to System Settings > General > Software update to check for an update. If there’s one available, install it.

    System Preferences - Software Update

    2. Update your apps

      Does the crackling occur with specific apps or with all apps? If you’re not sure, try different apps to see which ones the crackling occurs with. Try different volume levels, too. It’s possible that it may happen with several apps but at different volume levels in each. If it’s only specific apps, check whether there are updates for those available. For App Store apps, open the App Store app and go to the Updates section. For non-App Store apps, open the app, click on its name in the menu bar, and select Check for Updates.

      AppStore Updates tab

      3. Restart your Mac

        If the problem occurs with several apps and an update to macOS hasn’t fixed it, restart your Mac. Restarting can fix lots of problems because it clears out temporary files and runs checks on your startup disk.

        4. Check background apps

          If a restart doesn’t solve the problem, it may be an app running in the background that’s causing the problem. Do you use an app designed to limit the CPU cycles other apps consume? If you do, that could be the culprit. Some apps, in trying to prevent other apps from using too many CPU cycles, limit those in such a way that it causes audio output issues for apps that play music or other audio output. If you use an app like that, try disabling it to see if that works. If it does, check for an update to the app. If there isn’t one, contact the developer for help.

          5. Disconnect audio equipment

            If you have any audio equipment — such as an external microphone, audio interface, or external speakers — connected to your Mac, disconnect them so you can rule them out as a cause of the crackling. If you have third-party audio drivers installed, uninstall those and then reinstall them.

            6. Adjust the sample rate

              The sample rate used by your Mac’s speakers impacts the quality of the audio you hear. Normally it’s set at 44.1kHz, or CD quality. If it’s set higher than that, it may be placing a strain on your Mac’s CPU, which is causing the crackling. Here’s how to fix it:

              1. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Audio Midi Setup
              2. Click on your MacBook’s speakers in the sidebar.
              3. Check the ‘Format’ is set to 44.1kHz.
              4. If it’s not, click the menu and set it to 44.1kHz.

              7. Use Activity Monitor to check CPU usage

              As we said earlier, one possible cause of speakers crackling is your Mac’s CPU being driven very hard. You can check whether there are processes running that are chewing up CPU cycles using Activity Monitor. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Activity Monitor. Click on the top of the ‘% CPU’ column to order processes by the CPU cycles they are using. See anything unusual? Any processes taking up close to 100% of CPU cycles? If so, select them and click ‘x’ in the toolbar. Does that stop the crackling?

              8. Clean the speaker grille

              One hardware issue that could be causing the crackling in your MacBook speakers is dust in the speaker grille. Use a soft brush to clean the speaker grille. If you have a keyboard vacuum cleaner, you could try using that. Some people also recommend using a can of compressed air to blow dust away. However, if you blow into the speaker grille, you risk blowing dust and debris into your Mac and causing more problems than you solve, so that’s best avoided.

              9. Kill coreaudio via Terminal 

              Sometimes, there is an issue with a process responsible for managing audio, and it may cause crackling of MacBook Pro M1/M2/M3 speakers. Try killing this process and see if it helps. 

              1. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Terminal.
              2. Paste the following command: sudo killall coreaudiod
              3. Press Return. 
              4. Enter your password and press Return once again.

              Alternatively, you can open Activity Monitor and look for the coreaudiod process. Click x from the toolbar to quit it.

              10. Check external speakers

              If nothing so far has worked, it’s worth checking whether the problem is with your MacBook speakers themselves or with the audio output in general. One way to do that is to connect a set of external speakers. If your Mac has a 3.5mm headphone socket and you have a set of powered speakers, you could try connecting them and find out whether they crackle, too. Or you could use headphones. If the crackling is present on external speakers, then it suggests a software issue rather than a hardware fault with the speakers.

              11. Uninstall problematic apps

              If the issue only occurs with certain applications, and updating them doesn’t work, try uninstalling and then reinstalling them. The easiest way to do that with multiple apps and make sure you get rid of all the files associated with the apps so that they uninstall fully is to use the Uninstaller module in CleanMyMac X. Once you select Uninstaller, all you have to do is choose the apps you want to uninstall and click Uninstall.

              CleanMyMac X will do everything else. You can then reinstall the apps from scratch.

              All apps selected in the Uninstaller module of CMMX

              12. Move your Mac to a different location

              If you use your Mac in an area where there is lots of other electrical equipment, it’s possible that interference from that equipment could be causing your MacBook speakers to crackle. Move your MacBook to another room and check if the problem is still there. If not, you’ve found the cause of the crackling.

              13. Boot into safe mode

              It may be that some extension is interfering with sound, and so MacBook speakers start crackling. To check it, boot your Mac into safe mode — it loads only the most important processes. Follow the steps below for different Mac models. Then, check if the problem has been fixed.


              1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
              2. Restart your Mac and press the Shift key.
              3. Release the Shift key after the login window shows up.

              Apple silicon (M1/M2/M3)

              1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
              2. Press and hold the power button until the startup options window shows up.
              3. Select a startup disk.
              4. Press the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
              5. Release the Shift key.

              If it helped, restart normally and check again. It may fix the issues. Alternatively, start disabling extensions one by one and see if it works.

              14. Run Apple Diagnostics

              The final tip before taking your Mac to an authorized service center is to run Apple Diagnostics. It is a built-in tool that helps detect any hardware issues. Check out this article to find the steps for your Mac.

              15. Take your Mac to an authorized service center

              If nothing so far has worked, the next step is to book an appointment at a Genius Bar in an Apple Store if you live near one or with an Apple Authorized Service Center. They will be able to advise you on what’s causing the crackling and what needs to be done to fix it.

              Do MacBook Pro speakers deteriorate?

              In theory, yes. The speaker diaphragm — the bit that vibrates to produce sound — is a physical component that could lose elasticity or become damaged over time. This is more likely if you use the speakers a lot and, particularly, if you have them set at or close to maximum volume when playing music. In practice, your MacBook’s speakers should last years without a problem. And when they do start to degrade, you probably won’t notice it. 

              There are lots of different things that could cause your MacBook speakers to crackle — some hardware and some software. The key to getting rid of the issue is to identify the cause and eliminate it, but that may involve some trial and error. Follow the steps above in order to eliminate possible causes, and you should no longer be wondering how to fix MacBook Pro speakers crackling. You can as well apply all those steps to other Mac models.

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