Improving MateBook X Pro’s Speakers

Measurements in Stock Form

The MateBook X Pro has some of the best speakers on any ultrabook. There are a pair of up-facing tweeters under the speaker grill and a pair of down-facing woofers on the laptop’s bottom corners. These speakers are not perfect, and how’s some ways we can improve them.

The brown line is the frequency response, and the others are the harmonic distortion levels.

You can refer to this graph to adjust your equalizer setting in the Dolby app. You can also right click and download my Room EQ Wizard file to generate an equalizer setting for Equalizer APO.

Audio Drivers

Blue is Microsoft driver, purple is Realtek driver.

Switching to generic Microsoft audio drivers in Device Manager disables the tweeters and makes the sound fecal. Don’t do it. Keep the default Realtek drivers.

Distortion Problem and Possible Fix

The MateBook X Pro’s speakers have a distortion at around 550Hz. Both my unit and another at a Huawei store have this problem, so it’s most likely a design flaw instead of a defective unit. I’ve found the cause to be the bottom of the speaker enclosure vibrating against the laptop’s unibody shell.

To reduce the distortion problem, I removed the foam seal around the speaker drivers. Now, the bottom lid no longer presses the speaker against the unibody.

More importantly, I also put a thin strip of sponge under the speaker to separate the resonating components.

This is the change in frequency response:

Other than a reduction in low treble, the frequency response stays intact. Very fortunately, this mod doesn’t reduce bass.

Correction with Equalizer APO

I used Room EQ Wizard to generate an Equalizer APO config that flattens the frequency response between 200 Hz and 20,000 Hz.

Here comes another problem: Correcting frequency response inevitably eats into volume, of which laptops have not enough to sacrifice. Equalizer APO now has a built-in, always-on limiter, which is generally better than allowing clipping. So, you could just up the preamp, but that means the limiter would kick in to prevent clipping, and all songs with heavy bass beats start to oscillate in volume.

Here’s a solution. Most songs’ dynamic range is dominated by bass, which laptops can’t really produce anyway, so you might as well high-pass it out. With 3 high-pass filters, you can effectively boost the preamp far above 0dB without much dynamic range compression artifacts. Now, everything sounds about as loud as with no correction at all, but with much more accurate frequency response compared to MX Pro in its stock form.

I packed the high-pass and preamp filters into a separate config file that is specifically for high volume listening, so that I can easily turn them all on when and only when I need them.

8 comments

  1. Hey Brad,

    Recently I’ve got a problem with headphones buzzing noise. I tried to update driver, reinstall it, but without success. Every time I plug the headphones into jack I get same buzzing frustrating noise.

    Do you have any suggestion how to solve this issue?

    Many thanks,
    Lazar

    1. Motherboard design flaw: power circuit is right next to audio circuit, causing lots of interference. Maybe more shielding between them would help, but I’m not sure.

  2. Thank you Brad for your prompt reply! I solved the problem after uninstalling Realtek driver and installing it from Huawei website. I got an option to choose (after plugging headphones) headset or headphone in notification panel.

    Cheers

    1. did you got the i5 or i7? i got the i7 8 GB RAM and 512 GB. Updated the Driver but still whistle on some audio playbacks. you can clearly hear it if you the music is very “quiet”

  3. Hey brad! I tried installing APO, then set it to control the speakers, reboot, then fiddled with the EQ and preamp but am not having the sound reflect any of the changes. Any ideas? what are your settings with the configurator?

  4. Hi Brad,

    First off, thank you for all of the documentation. Super helpful!

    Second, could you tell me a bit more about the 3 separate HPF’s in APO? Unless each is addressing one individual speaker, I believe they would be completely redundant.

    -Seth

    1. It’s because I found that using 3 high-passes gives me a steeper roll-off and its shape is different than one high-pass with a sharper Q.

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