I just finished replacing both speakers in my 2017 Macbook Pro with Touchbar. The procedure isn’t difficult, although in an abundance of caution I spent about half a day to research, prepare, and conduct every step very carefully. Here’s the main discoveries:
- It was my first time to open up this Macbook. It’s harder than previous Macbooks. I would definitely recommend a suction cup to create the initial gap in the casing. Then, follow the guides: you have to slide a shim around to the middle side section to cause the clips to detach from the center of the case. I didn’t have to apply any force. The shim itself was wide enough to do the trick. Be careful not to stick it in too far.
- I disconnected the battery data cable and power connection. The data cable was straightforward, but the power connection tab required slightly more force than I expected. The hinge on it is metal I believe, so actually you are “opening” (i.e. bending) a metal pivot point—but it is designed for that.
- Removing the speaker connectors: this wasn’t included in teh guide. The clip looked like it has a lock tab, but this isn’t true. All you have to do is get under the speaker cable and lift it out. I used the flat end of a spudger in a gentle twisting motion, alternating sides until is came loose. It literally just pops out (lifting up out of the connector casing).
- Removing the speakers themselves: These are in fact glued on tightly. Nothing else is holding them on. If you observe closely, espcially if you can compare it to teh new speakers you have ready to iunstall, you’ll notice that the speaker enclosure is custom fit. Every point of contact of the speaker has been glued on. Thus, you can visually trace the edges of the speaker, all around the enclosure. To begin, I inserted the flat, thinnest edge of some tweezers into any noticeable gaps. Don’t force anything, just see if you can get it in. Next, I used a heat gun on lowest setting. I’m sure you can use a hair dryer too, although this may take longer. Apply the heat on the keyboard side of the laptop, sweeping over the narrow area where the speaker is held. Heat it until the laptop metal is warm or almost hot to the touch—not scalding, but approaching pain-threshold level. Then, I paused to let the heat begin to conduct (the glue will take some time to soften). Repeat this 2 or 3 times, allowing time for the glue to soften. When you are ready to try, flip the laptop back over and again insert a flat tip—tweezers worked well for me. Very lightly twist in a few different locations, and see if you get any movement. For me, I detected some movement, but not enough to dislodge the speaker. Thus, I repeated again with the heat gun. Continue doing this until you clear feel the speaker is about ready to come out—like a loose tooth. You will hear popping from the soften glue. Apply heat to any part that’s still stuck—for me, if was usually the lower part of the speaker, closer to where your wrists sit while typing. Now here’s the key: eventually, I created enough gap in the interior side (i.e. nearest the laptop center) of the speaker to get my fingers under it. Then, you can sort of peel it up, so that the proximal side (interior side) of the speaker rises, and eventually the speaker is “on its side”. You will see gobs of glue in varying degrees of attachment. Go ahead and remove the speaker, and clear out the glue. It’s sort of fun to peel.
- Installing the new speakers: I took the advice of Miyazaki and used double sided tape. I did just what he suggested. You may want to practice on the old speaker first. Thin double sided tape actually requires some technique, for several reasons. Cutting it smoothly—I ended up using a retractable safety blade/knife. Likewise, for the circular and curved sections of the casing, I did my best to create an exact shape, and tack it on. This was harder than I expected, because it’s tough to exactly match the shape, and also the tape distorts easily. The tape also sticks to your hands. Where possible, don’t remove the second-side tape backing until everything it on. Also, try to make the tape surface seamless. This took me several attempts sometimes to totally remove gaps between tape pieces, but luckily the tape stretches easily (sometimes this is a pain also). You can sort of smoosh out the tape to extend it just enough. Finally, I found that getting tools to help precisely put the tape in place and get it off your fingers is useful. A plastic pencil tip worked well for me—the tape sticks to the plastic less, and using the pencil tip, you can sort of roll the pencil out, which causes less distortion in the tape because it clings a bit less using that technique.
- No tricks on attaching the speakers. Just make sure there isn’t much excess tape or it won’t drop back into its enclosure. Attach the speaker cables, the battery power, the battery data, and seal it up. The bottom laptop casing still fits, and will hold the speakers snugly.
- Here’s the tape I used: LLPT Double Sided Tape Black Acrylic Strong Mounting Tape 1 Inch x 550 Inch Multiple Sizes > UPDATED <
The speakers sounded great. Also, I did not remove the logic board or anything else. There is no need to do this, but, know your work style. If you aren’t good with precision work, are over-caffeinated, shaking hands, or prone to frustration and breaking things, you may want to remove the logic board. However, this definitely is not necessary. Finally, I’m an insane perfectionist, especially with tape sealing surface area. I’m sure it would work well with less effort.
Good luck everyone!
P.S. I used something like an X-Acto knife as necessary to create my tape shapes. I also used this to precisely and gently remove the tape backing (along with tweezers) once the tape was stuck on and ready. The backing is tough to remove with your fingers if you're dealing with small pieces, and easy to distort.