It is possible to damage the speakers of your MacBook by playing music too loudly
For science, an independent security researcher put his MacBook Air’s speakers to the extreme test.
Hector Martin, a specialist in the security of Apple devices, wanted to test the endurance of the speakers of the MacBook Air M2 by playing in particular extremely loud music aptly baptized “I Won the Loudness War”.
A test carried out by a professional not to be reproduced at home
Conscientious in his work, Hector Martin embarked on an experiment to understand how MacOS protects its speakers against possible damage. Pushing the vice to the limit, he also conducted tests on his MacBook Air M2 with Asahi Linux, a version he developed himself specifically for computers equipped with Apple chips.
As a preamble, he used a sinusoidal sweep, a sound gradually rising in frequency. According to his tests, it took only 40 seconds of such treatment for the left speaker of his MacBook Air M2 to give up the ghost.
In order to completely finish off the two speakers, he then played extremely loud music called “I Won the Loudness War” by Dan Worrall. You can see the massacre via a Twitter thread in which Hector Martin presented the results of his tests step by step (remember to turn the sound all the way down before watching the video, for the good of your audio equipment and your ears).
A security issue that could affect other devices
On the strength of his discoveries, Hector Martin has split an analysis of the problem encountered. He explains in particular that MacOS has full control over the audio part. It is thus possible to play a sound that is much too loud for the speakers without the pilot finding it necessary to attenuate it.
The other element to blame would be the baffle, and more specifically the thermal damage inflicted on it. He thinks that the sine sweep and the music of Dan Worrall simply melted the cabinet, which under pressure passed the weapon to the left.
Hector Martin thus believes that this security problem could impact not only the MacBook Air M2 which served as a guinea pig, but also all MacBook M1 and M2, Air as well as Pro. In the most pessimistic scenario, laptops from other manufacturers could even be affected.
He admits, however, that this is only a preliminary analysis for the moment, other tests being necessary to prove his theories. In the meantime, he sent his savagely butchered speaker MacBook Air M2 in for repair. “Lucky I have AppleCare!” he concludes with a touch of humour.