MacBook microphone problems


I have an unibody aluminium MacBook. (The 13 inch model - before Apple changed the specs and re-released it as a "MacBook Pro").

I've been trying to narrate a voiceover in iMovie today, and the sound quality from the internal microphone is terrible! Muffled and ringing machine noise in the background. I've tried changing settings. I've tried running it off the battery instead of the power supply - in case it was related in interference from the power supply. I've tried different software. GarageBand and Audacity. Oh - and the fan wasn't running when I tried to record stuff.

The thing is - I remember the internal Microphone working much better before. I've made a couple of things for YouTube, and I didn't have a problem then.

Is it plausible that the Microphone has gone wrong now? Is this a known issue with the aluminium MacBook (Pro)?

- If an external Microphone would solve things - is there anything I should know about what kind to buy? I don't want to invest in anything expensive - I don't use it enough. I know that Apple's sound-out jack is designed for specialised headphones. (Although normal headphones sometimes work if you wiggle them a bit). Is there anything unusual about the sound input jack?
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Well, I tried shopping for a new microphone today. I reside in Thailand mostly, so I tried one of those computer mega stores where everyone sells basically the same cheap junk - and the Apple reseller knows nothing about Macs. (Apparently Apple have no standards, and anyone can call themselves a "reseller" - even if they are staffed by morons).

I came back empty-handed anyway.

One shop had a big battery powered microphone, with a XLR cable to 1/4″ TRS plug (I could have got an adapter to small jack). It came in a big foam lined case. ....But I was hoping to get something a bit smaller, more mobile - so I didn't buy this, even though it was possibly the only thing I saw that would work. It would have worked - wouldn't it?

No one has even heard of a USB microphone here - which is what I was hoping to find. I know China makes a lot of them - so odd that none make it this far.

What I didn't realise, (and what the Apple reseller people didn't tell me) - is according to the technical specs, the MacBooks "Supports Apple Stereo Headset with microphone". The same kit that plugs into iPhone/iPad. Has anyone tried this? What's the quality like?

I just want to use this for podcast/youtube video narration. Any suggestions based on the kind of limited choice I saw today? I saw lots of ultra-cheap PC microphones. I suspect they were all useless to me?

Finally, I think it is odd that my internal microphone used to be better quality than it is now. Is there any chance that a software update caused a problem?
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I had this issue recently with the 15 inch i7 macbook pro from last year (2010) and I took it into the Apple store in London to see if they could fix it.

After about an hour of testing in a quiet room the techie was able to deduce that the left fan was off (possibly a bearing had worn out) and was causing some vibration noise. As this was near the mic, combined with the built in software that works to dampen and reduce any ambient noise from conversation meant that nothing was getting through to the mic at all. I am currently awaiting a new fan to arrive in-store but he did tests with the left fan disconnected and everything worked fine.

I hope that your mac can be fixed as simply and as cheaply as this. Fortunately mine is under warranty but even if it isn't a replacement fan via apple is only about £20 and it is just a five minute fix.

(I suppose I will have to wait for my warranty to expire for the expensive components to start breaking)