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MacBook Pro automatically shifts volume balance, huh?

A really strange bug with MacBook Pro M1 seemingly shifts the volume balance randomly.


By. Jacob

Edited: 2022-04-18 18:51

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.


Is this really it? I recently noticed a strange issue on MacBook Pro that had caused the volume balance to shift towards the right, seemingly, on its own.

If you Google the problem, you will find chatter about it, apparently, having been an issue for more than a decade.

The discussions I found are at least a couple of years old.

The solution is simple. Just open settings on your Mac and center the volume balance.

Why this is even an issue for so long is mind boggling to say the least.

Other annoyances

I have a long list of similar minor issues specific to MacOS, some of which are seemingly intentional design rather than outright bugs.

1. Caps Lock has an annoying default delay on mac, and I had to install a third-party application just to re-map the caps lock key and remove the delay.

2. There is no Delete key on mac, which prevents users from quickly selecting files in a directory and simply hitting delete to remove them; there's probably a way to create a shortcut key for it, but I have not bothered to figure out how.

3. A lot of characters are not properly marked on the keyboard, and you have to figure out their placement on your own. E.g. Curly Brackets, em-dash, and so on.

4. The "cut" feature works contrary to what users expect. E.g. You can not use "cut" on files in a directory; this is a useful and intuitive feature in Windows and Linux systems that allows users to cut files from one directory, and paste them in another, without needing to drag and drop.

5. The Finder app does not have a proper location indicator or address bar, so it is severely difficult to navigate. It also has a ridiculous smiley as an Icon, so it looks like it is a joke – or, Apple is just mocking the user, because they know how bad the Finder file manager is compared to decent file managers in Windows and Linux. But, the horrendousness does not end at that, because you also can not find a nice drop-in replacement file manager like you can for your favorite gnu/linux distribution.

6. When using the touchpad, a lot of gestures need to be turned off because they get in the way – of course, nothing new in this regard, as that's basically the same on Windows and Linux too – but the absolutely horrendous feature of using left/right swipes to navigate back/forward in the browser, or even worse yet, open up the MacOS widgets menu, is just mind boggling annoying. It is so sensitive that I have made a lot of unintentional mistakes when wanting to scroll horizontally, that is, before I figured out how to disable this crap feature.

I could carry on, but let me end with that :-P

While mac has a lot of such issues, it is actually not alone; for example, my Lenovo laptop has a huge Caps Lock popup in the center of the screen, and Microsoft recently degraded the desktop experience in Windows by locking the taskbar to the bottom of the screen, plus, doing taskbar right click -> open is sometimes broken in Windows.

If you want a perfect desktop environment, you should try out KDE in Linux – it's open source :-)

I really wish Mac and Windows would allow us to run open source desktop environments, and thereby get rid of all their ridiculous vendor/brand related issues.

Why it happens

This is pure speculation, but I can imagine that, somehow, Apple has not properly restricted volume controls, so programs may sometimes hijack the controls and mess up the volume balance.

I can't imagine why a program would need access to the volume controls however, and I don't remember this ever being an issue in Windows or Linux, which begs the question, why would MacOS be different?

Apple appears to have acknowledged that they got a bug causing the volume balance to shift, but they have so far not fixed it. On that page they wrote the following:

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.

Still, pressing the volume buttons really should not influence volume balance. It just makes no sense.

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