When connected to Apple’s Thunderbolt display, new MacBook Air models are producing static distortion and the speakers in the 27in screen are crackling, according to reports.
A thread on the Apple Support Communities relating to the issue is six pages long, although the issue appears to be only affecting a small number of users of the 11in and 13in MacBook Air models.
According to an 11 July post in the thread, Apple is investigating the problem.
The first entry on 23 June reads: “I'm experiencing an audio problem when I connect my 2012 MacBook Air to my 27" Thunderbolt Display. When playing audio of any form (e.g., iTunes, Skype, streaming music via Chrome), the audio starts out sounding fine. After about 1 minute and 40 seconds, you start to hear static mixed in with the audio. After about 3 minutes, the audio is completely overcome with static; the original audio is totally indecipherable.”
Other MacBook Air users experiencing the same problem suggest a number of fixes. One suggests removing all USB connections from the Thunderbolt Display. He writes: “When I connect the MacBook Air to the display, I plug a USB hub into the MacBook Air (not into the Thunderbolt Display). I plug the Apple keyboard (etc.) into the USB hub. With this configuration, the audio works fine.”
However, another reader adds: “Unplugging EVERY USB Connection from the back of the Thunderbolt extended my life without static for a bit. Now I can stream/play music or audio for about 20 minutes, then the static bomb hits.”
Other users have tested the sound issue using alternative USB audio devices. One writes: “Note that I've tested with Maya44 (USB Audio) plugged into the Thunderbolt display and that seems to play fine, so it seems isolated to the USB audio within the thunderbolt display.”
Some forum entrant claim that Apple is replacing their new MacBook Air due to the problem. One claims to be on their third version of the new machine, still experiencing the issue.
The cause of the problem is as yet unknown.