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Audio problems on latest Macs?

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:26 pm
by redlester
Dave B wrote:Whilst I have a great deal of sympathy for those affected, I'm not so upset at Apple over this one for the simple reason that USB is not designed to be a streaming protocol and, as such, I've always been wary of it for real time devices. It's great for backup drives, etc but I'm a firm believer in 'the right tool for the right job'. In this case, it's FW or TB.

Yes, it's a daft fault. But I can see how it got missed - they probably weren't looking for it. Hopefully that will change.

I’ve got four external USB drives (one SSD, three hard drives) via a powered hub, with sample libraries, Komplete, etc. on a 2012 Mac Mini. No problem at all with that setup.

Just checked on Amazon a Samsung 2TB thunderbolt external SSD costs £863!!

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 6:09 am
by Howdy Doody Time
It must be serious when Desmond - Fidei Defensor - is not waving it away.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:54 am
by ConcertinaChap
redlester wrote:Just checked on Amazon a Samsung 2TB thunderbolt external SSD costs £863!!

Yes, I saw that. There seems to be a bit of a tradition of over-egging the prices of TB storage. However USB 3 gen II storage is pretty damn fast and a good deal cheaper.

Black Sheep wrote:Among the 10.14.4 release notes was "Improves the reliability of USB audio devices when used with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini models introduced in 2018.".

Sounds very promising.

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:29 pm
by redlester
ConcertinaChap wrote:Yes, I saw that. There seems to be a bit of a tradition of over-egging the prices of TB storage.

I can't understand it other than blatant profiteering? Surely SSD's, with no moving parts, should be cheaper to manufacture than a fiddly mechanical hard drive?

Or am I missing something? Are we perhaps still paying for the R&D that has gone into SSD & Thunderbolt?

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:37 am
by leighelse
I bought my 2018 Mac Mini three months ago, blissfully unaware of the USB audio issue. I spent a packet on it, including 64GB RAM.

Thankfully MacOS 10.14.4 was released about the time I received my unit, and I had few issues apart from it periodically dropping a USB3 hub that connected my MIDI control surfaces and instruments. This was frustrating, but appeared to be resolved when I changed the connection from a Thunderbolt adaptor to a direct connection via one of the Mac Mini's two USB-A ports.

However last weekend I updated to MacOS 10.14.5, after which I had extensive audio drop-outs even playing a .wav file in iTunes. It's taken quite a while to diagnose the cause; it's that same USB3 hub, a powered MBeat Superspeed with seven ports.

For now I've plugged the USB hub back into a Thunderbolt port, but I'm sure I'll have to replace it, which is a shame; a decent Thunderbolt 3 hub is about EUR300 (NZD500 where I live).

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:02 pm
by redlester
leighelse wrote:I bought my 2018 Mac Mini three months ago, blissfully unaware of the USB audio issue. I spent a packet on it, including 64GB RAM.

Thankfully MacOS 10.14.4 was released about the time I received my unit, and I had few issues apart from it periodically dropping a USB3 hub that connected my MIDI control surfaces and instruments. This was frustrating, but appeared to be resolved when I changed the connection from a Thunderbolt adaptor to a direct connection via one of the Mac Mini's two USB-A ports.

However last weekend I updated to MacOS 10.14.5, after which I had extensive audio drop-outs even playing a .wav file in iTunes. It's taken quite a while to diagnose the cause; it's that same USB3 hub, a powered MBeat Superspeed with seven ports.

For now I've plugged the USB hub back into a Thunderbolt port, but I'm sure I'll have to replace it, which is a shame; a decent Thunderbolt 3 hub is about EUR300 (NZD500 where I live).

USB hubs can be a real pain, even powered ones. I was almost at the stage of returning my Ableton Push 2 as faulty, after using it without problems for over a year when it then started not connecting, spent ages even reformatting the computer and re-installing everything, only for the problem to be cured by plugging it directly into the back of the Mac Mini.

The worry is that as USB ports reduce in quantity with various hardware releases, hubs will always be required for the foreseeable. I have four external USB drives, a synth, two MIDI keyboards and a memory card reader all connected via two hubs currently.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:49 pm
by johnny h
Dave B wrote:Whilst I have a great deal of sympathy for those affected, I'm not so upset at Apple over this one for the simple reason that USB is not designed to be a streaming protocol and, as such, I've always been wary of it for real time devices. It's great for backup drives, etc but I'm a firm believer in 'the right tool for the right job'. In this case, it's FW or TB.
Wow, that's a pretty incredible hot take on this issue! A computer sold for the premium that Apple charges should be easily able to handle trivial audio jobs that 2012 macbooks handled with ease.

Apple are an absolute disgrace for letting this happen. Their crappy touchbar, the poor battery, the useless butterfly keyboard .. please can we bring Steve Jobs back from the dead and sort out this mess?

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:09 am
by Agharta
johnny h wrote:please can we bring Steve Jobs back from the dead and sort out this mess?
He's no longer compatible with current versions of macOS and iOS due to political correctness.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:55 am
by CS70
Dave B wrote:the simple reason that USB is not designed to be a streaming protocol

It's called "Universal Serial Bus". It has guaranteed latency in isochronous transfer mode. Streaming data is what's designed for.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:13 am
by cyrano.mac
redlester wrote:
ConcertinaChap wrote:I can't understand it other than blatant profiteering? Surely SSD's, with no moving parts, should be cheaper to manufacture than a fiddly mechanical hard drive?

Nope.

Just like ram, SSD cells cost is linear. More cells makes for a pricier, but bigger setup. It also yields a higher failure rate, so the manufacturer needs to allocate even more spare cells.

Spinning rust, OTOH, always contains more or less the same parts. A motor, a controller and some R/W heads and disks. Price is dictated by what the market will carry. If you need a small disk, let's say 60 GB, SSD is cheaper than magnetic media. Chances are you can't even buy a new 60 GB HD these days. Only 2nd hand or refurbs.

Another difference: there are no refurbished SSDs, AFAIK.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:04 am
by ConcertinaChap
cyrano.mac wrote:
redlester wrote:
ConcertinaChap wrote:I can't understand it other than blatant profiteering? Surely SSD's, with no moving parts, should be cheaper to manufacture than a fiddly mechanical hard drive?

For the record your quoting indentation is wrong. I did not write that.

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:16 am
by Dave B
CS, guaranteed latency is not guaranteed delivery. There are caveats for using Isochronous transfers - "but with possible data loss". As I understand it, on a practical level, the speed of the bus is fast enough that it looks like a stream, but it is implemented as a series of bursts still. It's very good, and if you are doing jobs where you can request the data again, then it's brilliant - even attaching disks is ok (unless they are maxing out). But the streaming in firewire / IEEE-1394 seems to be more fundamental to the design and implementation. Remember, a whole load of FW audio interfaces were late shipping years ago as the manufacturer of the controller chip had skimped on the implementation and what they built didn't work right, forcing a re-design with an alternate FW controller chip. I have a dim memory that the iso-transfer was involved in that...

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:34 am
by Dave B
And Johnny - the computer being sold has Thunderbolt ports, no? Like Firewire, that is a protocol which handles streaming and, it could be argued, is the preferred interface for external audio. It would be my choice, anyway.

Obviously, ymmv. But I'm a firm believer in the right tool for the right job.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:58 am
by johnny h
Dave B wrote:And Johnny - the computer being sold has Thunderbolt ports, no?
So what? Most soundcards these days use USB and work perfectly on most new and old laptops. Focusrite have started to drop their thunderbolt clarett range and move back to USB. RME's latency over USB is as good as Thunderbolt these days.
Like Firewire, that is a protocol which handles streaming and, it could be argued, is the preferred interface for external audio. It would be my choice, anyway.
The whole point of laptops is they are portable. I use my 2017 Macbook Pro in many different studios, each equipped with different soundcards and different interfaces (usb, firewire, thunderbolt2) and it works just fine. Because of Apple's negligence, this is no longer possible with their incredibly expensive new models.

I love OSX and Apple's general design quality but I really don't know how you can possibly defend them here. I know a lot of people who are losing patience with Apple and are even contemplating moving back to the horrors of Windows.

Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:01 pm
by Dave B
I'm not defending anyone - nor am I attacking anyone. I'm just pointing out why someone may have a different view of the situation.

(and why I can see the point - it's a skill that people seem to have lost in this age ... other people who do not share your view are not wrong / evil / incompetent / out to rule the world / squid-like overlords out to convert us all into protoplasm / etc)