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Monday, July 16, 2012, 09:15 pm PT (12:15 am ET)

Apple Thunderbolt display exhibits noise issue with new MacBook Air

A number of MacBook Air owners are experiencing audio issues when they connect their laptops to Apple's Thunderbolt display and complain of static, distortion and crackling emanating from the speakers built into the 27-inch screen's chassis.

The problem usually presents itself intermittently after a few hours' use when sound from Apple's new 2012 MacBook Air, which was announced during WWDC in June, is routed through the Thunderbolt display's speakers, reports Electronista.

It should be noted that as of this writing a single report claiming the same issue was found on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, though it seems to be an isolated case not associated with the MacBook Air matter.

An Apple Support Communities thread started on June 23 is now six pages long though the issue seems to be affecting only a small number of users. Owners of both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air have reported identical problems, though some experience the issue more frequently than others.

The exact cause of the problem remains unclear though it could be related to how the thin-and-light's firmware handles audio output. Sound played directly through the MacBook Air's internal speakers are unaffected by the supposed bug meaning the issue lies in the interconnect.

Thunderbolt Display

Apple Thunderbolt display with MacBook Air. | Source: Apple


Forum members have speculated that the adaptor needed to connect Apple's new MagSafe 2 power connector to the Thunderbolt display's power cord is somehow related to the static. This seems unlikely, however, as owners have unsuccessfully attempted to switch adaptors and run the laptop without plugging in to the Thunderbolt display's power connector.

Most users have found that a workaround involving the switching between audio outputs solves the issue for a short time while others note that terminating and restarting an offending application gives temporary relief. Unplugging and replugging all connections also seems to remedy the problem.

Apple is aware of the issue though no official response has been released.