If you’re like me, you probably use your laptop for some type of audio input. Whether it’s communicating via Facetime, playing multiplayer online games, asking Siri questions, or just recording a memo, you will use your MacBook Air’s built-in microphone at one time or another.
Looking at your MacBook Air, you may wonder where the built-in microphone is. If you have an M2 MacBook Air, it is between the screen and the keyboard. If you have an M1 Macbook Air, it is beneath the speaker grill on the left side of your keyboard. Older MacBook Airs have it located on the left side of the computer near the USB ports.
My name is Eric. I am a software engineer and have been a computer enthusiast since the early 1980s. Some of my first computers didn’t even have an input for a microphone, but with the use of today’s systems for so many different methods of communication, mics are built into almost all of them.
I have described where the MacBook Air’s built-in microphone (actually microphones) is located, and if you want to read more about it, keep reading. I will also discuss the quality of the microphone, what it is meant to do, and how it compares to others.
- Location of the M2 MacBook Air’s Microphone
- Location of the M1 MacBook Air’s Microphone
- About the M1 and M2 MacBook Air’s Microphone Array
- MacBook Air Microphone Quality
Location of the M2 MacBook Air’s Microphone
The new M2 MacBook Air is designed without the speaker grills that were present on the sides of the M1. The Microphones have been placed just above the keyboard but below the screen. Look at the diagram below from Apple to see the location.
Location of the M1 MacBook Air’s Microphone
The M1 MacBook Air, as mentioned above, still has speaker grills on each side of the keyboard. The microphones for this model are located underneath the speaker grill on the left side of the keyboard, as shown in the image below.
About the M1 and M2 MacBook Air’s Microphone Array
That’s right! You may not be able to see it, but beneath the MacBook Air M1 or M2 casing, there’s not just one microphone but a microphone array. This means there is more than one microphone it uses for audio input.
The MacBook Air’s microphone array consists of three separate microphones. The three microphones work together in what is called beamforming technology. This means all three mics pick up your voice simultaneously and then send the audio signal to the processor.
This beamforming technology helps to create better quality voice pickup, not only for your Skype meetings or Facetime conversations, but to provide better voice recognition for things like Siri and converting speech to text.
MacBook Air Microphone Quality
Now that you know where the MacBook Air’s microphone array is located, you might be wondering about the quality of these microphones. Apple generally uses high-quality or at least good-quality components with its systems, but how do these mics compare to an external one?
It would seem that the answer to this would be pretty easy. If you purchase a good external microphone, your quality is likely better than any built-in mic. For the most part, that is true, but it depends on the situation and the usage.
The built-in mics used for the MacBook’s microphone array are relatively cheap individual devices and, by themselves, would probably not create a good-quality recording. Together as a microphone array providing input into a quality device, they provide top-notch voice recording or input.
The thing is, for their intended use, which is to record, transmit, recognize, or convert to text, they work exceptionally well because of the way they are implemented into the audio input design.
On the other hand, if you want to record music, sound effects, or something of that nature, an external mic will almost always perform better than the built-in mic array.
Which is better depends on the application of the mics. I’m sure there are external mics that will outperform the MacBook’s mic array even for voice recording, but for general usage, the built-ins should be just fine for the majority of users.
Here are some common questions about the MacBook Air’s microphone location.
Does the MacBook Pro have a microphone array?
Yes, it does. The M1 and M2 MacBook Pros have a microphone array basically the same as the one in the MacBook Air. The microphone array in the MacBook Pro also uses beamforming technology, just like the ones in the MacBook Air.
Where is the microphone located on a MacBook Pro?
The MacBook Pro, both M1 and M2 versions, have their microphones located in the exact same place as the M1 MacBook Airs. It is beneath the speaker grill on the left side of the keyboard.
Do older MacBooks have a microphone array?
MacBooks made before the M1 version did not have a microphone array using beamforming technology. They had a single microphone on the MacBook case’s left side next to the USB port. The microphone is labeled as Mic and just looks like a small pinhole.
The M1 MacBook Air has microphones on the left side of the keyboard beneath the speaker grill, and the M2 MacBook Air has placed the mics between the keyboard and the screen. Older MacBooks Airs has a single mic on the side of the case near the USB ports.
The M1 and M2 Airs actually have an array of 3 microphones that work together simultaneously in what is called beamforming technology. The speaker array creates an audio input system that is optimized for speech recording, speech recognition, speech transmission, and speech-to-text applications.
I hope the information I have provided above has helped you with the location of your system’s microphones. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.