Mac Audio Balance Bug That Apple Knew About 12 Years Ago Still Exists

Apple has still not fixed a bug in macOS that causes the audio balance to drift on Macs under certain conditions, despite having acknowledged the issue 12 years ago.

sound balance bug 1
A developer named Fabian highlighted the problem today in a post on X (formerly Twitter), claiming that Apple "still has not fixed the audio left/right balance bug in macOS. I still have to use an app to fix it automatically. The app is from 2015, that means we are approaching the 10 year anniversary [of the bug]."

Balance Lock is the app in question, a free download available from Tunabelly Software. The bug's continuing existence was corroborated by other users who responded to the X post and commented on it over on Hacker News. However, it seems as though the issue has persisted for even longer than Fabian initially supposed.

Writing in 2013 on Stack Exchange, one user claimed to have experienced the same bug on multiple Macs going back to 2003. Whether or not that is the case, what we do know is that Apple acknowledged the bug on February 12, 2012 in a Mac OS X 10.2 support document, which is no longer on Apple's website but retrievable via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. In it Apple states:

In some cases the audio balance may unexpectedly drift towards the left or right channel. This can happen if you rapidly press the volume up or down keys while the computer's microprocessor is under heavy load.

To rectify the problem, Apple advises users to open the Sound panel in System Preferences (now System Settings) and "Drag the audio balance slider to the desired position."

Given Apple's advice at the time, it sounds like the company had not been able to come up with a proper fix when the support document was published, which begs the question as to whether it still has no solution to the bug, and that is why the company has let it remain in successive versions of Mac OS X and macOS up to this day.

Have you experienced the audio balance drifting on your Mac? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: macOS Sonoma

Top Rated Comments

Havalo Avatar
9 weeks ago
Apple has higher priorities. For example, Emojis!
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
9 weeks ago
Been using macOS for 20 years and this is the first time I’m learning about this bug. Not saying it doesn’t exist. I just never experienced it myself.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GtrDude Avatar
9 weeks ago
Well, that's Apple for ya today.
If not enough people complain, they don't give two cents about it.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
EightyEight Avatar
9 weeks ago

If Steve Jobs could talk...o_O
"Can anyone tell me what the balance control is supposed to do?

Then why the f*** doesn't it do that?"
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Alvinc Avatar
9 weeks ago
It‘s just a tip of the iceburg. There are especially search bugs still haven’t been fixed on Apple Notes.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
douscinco Avatar
9 weeks ago
I've checked it and it is centered. I think it never happened to me but, as a musician and sound engineer, this could be nasty and worrying!
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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