Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro Laptop Macs
Ever since I got my early 2008 MacBook Pro, I have noticed electronic noises in the headphones whenever the Mac went silenct (for example, when a song would finish in iTunes). When I recently got Bose's over-the-ear headphones, I also started hearing static that I didn't notice before. I did some research and found this thread in the Apple Discussions.

The thread is currently 171 replies long, but the solution, found in the middle of the page, is to purchase a Volume Control Headphone Extension Cord from Radio Shack (their part number is 42-2559), or some other inline volume control. Plug in the inline volume control cable, then turn down the volume on the inline volume control and use the computer's volume to compensate. The key is that the control raises the impedance.

Note that this problem is entirely hardware related. Posters in the thread claim that this also affects late 2008 models as well. If you use headphones that already have an inline volume control, already have high impedance, or do not block outside sound very well, you might not have noticed this problem.
    •    
  • Currently 2.45 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (11 votes cast)
 
[28,877 views]  

Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro | 11 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: rolfie23 on Jan 14, '09 09:16:20AM

I have the exact same problem with my iMac Core 2 Duo (early 2008), and I have even taken it to repair, but they told they had found no problem at all (I suppose they tried with some cheap earbuds in a noisy environment).

I just tried with some old earbuds with inline volume control and it works: with the volume control cranked all the way up, the hissing/chirping is perfectly audible, but with the volume halfway down (compensating with iMac's volume) noise disappears.

Thanks so much, you have solved the most irritating problem I've ever had with a Mac :)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: macawm on Jan 14, '09 09:35:32AM

I've always wondered why those irritating chirps where there. I wonder if it would be possible to engineer a short "patch" cable to alleviate this problem?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: asmeurer on Jan 14, '09 01:11:55PM

I'm not sure what you mean. Isn't the volume control cable just that?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: wallybear on Jan 14, '09 01:17:56PM
Yes, it's possible:


L in        GND in         R in   <--- male stereo jack
|             |             |
|             |             |
|---/\/\/\/---+--\/\/\/\/---|
      ^       |       ^
      |       |       |
      |       |       |
   L out   GND out   R out        <--- female stereo jack


The potentiometer is a stereo 1K logarithmic pot.
But the Radio Shack extension cord (8.99) could be cheaper than homebuilding it.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: tekdave on Jan 14, '09 10:29:28AM

This problem is present in most, if not all Apple products, this includes the iProducts as well as Mac products. Seems Apple likes to overdrive (voltage wise) the littel amps that drive the headphone outputs. On some products you can simply turn down the volume on both itunes and in the sound control panel, and this seems to clean up a lot of the static, pops, noise, etc. I know this holds true for my macbook pro, macpro, mac mini, ipod and iphone when using the analog (headphone) outputs, this does not appear to hold true for any of the digital outputs.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: Richard Drysdall on Jan 14, '09 07:58:09PM

I don't know much about audio, but I noticed that when I bought a pair of headphones recently the impedance was listed on the back among the headphone's 'stats'. Is it possible to eliminate the problem without extra gear simply by using a pair of headphones with an impedance over a certain level?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: NedScott on Jan 14, '09 10:50:54PM

Impedance isn't the best word for what is actually happening here. Rather, there's a constant bit of noise that will bleed over the audio, but will not increase with the system volume (or decrease). By raising the system volume up, then down with the external connector, you will also turn down the noise (chirps, etc). The end result is the same level of volume, with no measurable quality loss.

While it is possible to get some headphones that have a higher impedance rating that will require you to turn up the system volume to have the same volume to your ear, you'll find that most of those are expensive studio type headphones.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: NedScott on Jan 14, '09 10:44:27PM

Haha, awesome, I've been doing this very same setup, with that exact same part from Radio Shack, for a few years now for my Power Mac G5 that has a dirty power supply (I was too lazy to take it in when it was under warrantee). So if anyone is wondering, it works great. The inline-volume control is a must have, because you're bound to come across a similar situation one time or another, computer or other audio device.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: cwa107 on Jan 15, '09 06:26:28AM

I fixed this problem on my early 2008 MacBook Pro by replacing the Fujitsu hard drive with a Seagate unit. It completely removed all noises, static and chirping when using any headphones.

Over the years, I have noticed this trend with Fujitsu hard drives in laptops - I first caught onto this when I owned a Dell laptop that had similar noises. Apparently Fujitsu drives have a tendency to bleed EMI that causes such noises.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: asmeurer on Jan 15, '09 10:07:33AM

My early 2008 MacBook Pro (15", 250GB) drive is a Hitachi, according to System Profiler.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix chirping/static in headphones on the MacBook Pro
Authored by: asmeurer on Jun 24, '11 04:03:57PM

Just a heads up.

The Radio Shack inline volume control I bought originally finally started to conk out (like most headphone wires, one of the wires started getting loose and I would loose sound in one ear unless the wire was oriented a certain way). So I decided to buy a new one. I figured any inline volume control would do it, so I bought a KOSS inline volume control from Amazon (the model number is VC/20). I just got it today, and it did not work. Turning up the volume on my computer and down the volume on the control just creates a loud hissing noise in any audio that I play. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this model boasts to increase the volume (instead of just limit it), although I didn't actually notice that this particular feature worked. It could also just be because it's a cheap model.

So I highly recommend buying the Radio Shack model if you want to fix this problem.



[ Reply to This | # ]