Startup sound preservation

It seems that on its 2016 MacBook Pro’s Apple has deactivated it’s famous startup sound / chime.

This cought my attention and I was interested to find out where this sound is stored (on older Mac’s). As I learned it is (or used to be at least) part of the Macs firmware. While so far I couldn’t find a way to extract the sound from an Intel / EFI based firmware, there seem to be ways to get the sound from PowerPC based Macs.

This is roughly how to do it:

  1. Get a firmware from a PowerPC Mac as these are based on OpenFirmware (not EFI) and thus easier to extract. For example this one from the Xserve G5 XServeFirmwareUpdate.dmg
  2. Open the downloaded DMG file
  3. Look for the file XServeFirmwareUpdate.pkg and show its package contents
  4. In the sub folder named Contents is the file: Archive.pax.gz
  5. Extract Archive.pax.gz (for ex. double click it in finder)
  6. In the extracted folder locate Applications\Utilities\Xserve Firmware-Updater and show its package contents
  7. locate the file Contents\Resources\BootROMFirmware

Well the BootROMFirmware contains the famous startup sound / chime.

The sound chime has a size of 0xE4B4 (58548) bytes and starts at offset  0xC881C (=821276). So we can just use dd in terminal to extract it:

dd if=~/Desktop/BootROMFirmware of=~/Desktop/start-chime.raw bs=1 skip=821276 count=58548

So now you have the extracted raw start-chime of 58,548 bytes file size. It is encoded using Apple’s version (IMA 4:1) of the IMA ADPCM compression format. To play it you would have to mux it into an AIFF file with correct header and chunk data (FORM, COMM, SSND,…) . You can use also ocenaudio to preview the sound (in messy quality).

If someone finds an easy way to play the raw file, just post a comment 🙂

Update: Seems you can convert the raw file on Mac OS 9 and SndSampler 5.4

You need these settings:

  • Sample Bits: 16
  • Channels: Mono
  • Sample Rate: 44,100
  • Compression: IMA 4:1
  • Data Offset: 16 (Sun Audio / Next)


So far I couldn’t get a decent raw sound import on a more current application & platform.

Update 2:

There seems to be a pastebin of the startup sound raw file here.

Its base64 encoded so to decode:

openssl base64 -d -in paste.txt -out snd.raw



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