A sound system is a built-in component of every laptop, and the MacBook Air is no different. Whether you are playing music, watching a movie, or talking to a friend online, you can hear the audio from your MacBook Air. So, where is it coming from? Where is the speaker?
The speakers built into the M2 MacBook Air are between the display and the keyboard. The M1 MacBook has speaker grills on each side of the keyboard, and the actual speakers are underneath the keyboard, very close to the speaker grills.
My name is Eric, and as an electrical engineer, software engineer, and technology enthusiast, I have always been interested in the design of devices and systems. Understanding how they are designed helps me to understand how they work, and I enjoy passing the information along to others.
I have indicated above where the speakers are on the M1 and M2 MacBook Airs. If you keep reading, I will provide more detail. I will also discuss what type of sound system the MacBook Airs have and give my opinion on their quality and how they compare to external sound systems.
M2 MacBook Air Speakers
With some MacBook Models, such as the Air, things like the speakers get moved around with each new model. This is partially due to the constant attempt to slim down and lighten the MacBook. Because of this, things are moved and placed in locations where they fit better.
Of course, that’s not all there is to it. Performance and quality are also a huge part of the design, but all these factors influence speaker placement. Like anything else, Apple continually tries to improve each model in whatever areas it can.
So, with the M2 MacBook Air, as mentioned above, the speakers have been moved to a location between the keyboard and the display. They are near the hinges where the display connects to the body of the computer.
Looking at their placement, there is one above the 1 and 2 keys, another above the 5 and 6 keys, a third speaker above the 7 and 8 keys, and one more above the – and = keys. That gives a total of four speakers, as shown below.
M1 MacBook Air Speakers
The M1 MacBook Air has speakers that are much easier to see and identify because there are speaker grills over top of them. They are on each side of the keyboard. This is the same place they are located on the M1 and M2 MacBook Pro.
You can see their location in the image below.
MacBook Air Speaker Quality
Now that I have discussed the location of the MacBook speakers, what about the quality of these sound systems? Does the placement of the speakers make a difference between the two?
Both the M1 and M2 Airs have good-quality sound systems. They are not quite as good as what the MacBook Pros, but I believe they are better than most other laptops. The M2 has a four-speaker sound system. The two tweeters and two woofers work together to provide a good range.
The M1 and M2 support Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, making it feel like the sound is coming from all around you. The sound quality on both systems is excellent, and some have argued which is better. A factor in this argument may be the placement of the speakers.
While the M1 has the speakers placed on the sides of the keyboard, they are actually partially under the keyboard as well. Some users report feeling a vibration on the keyboard when the speakers produce a good deal of sound. For most, this is not a big deal, but some users claim to be annoyed by it.
The M2’s placement of the speakers between the display and keyboard seems to reduce the vibration issue, but many have reported that the volume of the sound coming from them is quite a bit lower than that of the M1.
This makes sense as the placement of the speaker outlets is tucked into the hinges of the display, but the intent is for the sound to come out and reflect off of the display and back towards the user sitting at the keyboard.
Even though reports indicate the volume of the M2’s audio is a little lower, users do report that the sound has a great deal of depth and feels like the sounds are coming from all around. So it seems that the sound quality from the M1 to the M2 has improved overall.
In my opinion, the MacBook Air, both M1 and M2 versions, have speakers that provide very good sound quality. While the quality is not quite as good as the MacBook Pro and will never be as good as high-end external speakers, they are great for everyday use and will outperform the built-in speakers of many other laptops on the market.
Here are some common questions about the MacBook Air’s speaker location.
Why are the MacBook Air’s speakers so small?
The main reason they are so small is so they can fit into the small, thin profile of the MacBook Air. The idea is to keep the MacBook Air as light and thin as possible. Therefore, the speaker must be small enough to fit in a very thin computer. Even though the speaker outlets you see seem tiny, the entire speaker is a bit larger and extends underneath the keyboard.
Is it better to use external speakers?
This depends on what type of external speakers you use and how you use them. Small speaker technology has come a long way in the past ten years, and many, such as on the MacBook Air, can outperform external computer speakers made 10 or 20 years ago.
That said, it’s hard to beat the sound quality of a good set of modern external speakers. They will usually outperform built-in speakers, but if you are on the go, you probably don’t want to carry a set of external speakers around, so you need to consider what you will use them for.
Are headphones better?
Headphone technology, especially over-the-ear headphones, can produce incredible lifelike sounds. I would say that in almost all cases, quality headphones will sound much better than the built-in speakers of your MacBook Air. But if you are talking about cheap ordinary headphones, the MacBook Air’s built-ins will probably produce better quality sound.
As shown above, the M2 MacBook Air’s speakers are located between the display and the keyboard, while the M1 MacBook Air has them on each side of the keyboard. Both have sound systems that produce good-quality sound for everyday use.
I hope the information above has helped you to locate the speakers on your MacBook Air. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.