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Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby redlester » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:00 am

http://cdm.link/2019/02/apple-2018-glit ... qus_thread

This sounds quite concerning. The comments section below the article are worth reading in respect to the solutions/work-arounds.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:46 pm

Interesting. I'm fully Thunderbolt so I've noticed no problems but I do have a USB 2 interface doing duty somewhere else so I might have a play when I've got time. Has this been widely reported elsewhere? The iMac Pro has been around for more than a year now, so you'd expect to hear quite a bit about it by now, maybe.

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby redlester » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:54 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:Has this been widely reported elsewhere? The iMac Pro has been around for more than a year now, so you'd expect to hear quite a bit about it by now, maybe.

Not sure, but there are a load of links half way down the article to discussion of it elsewhere on other forums, including Apple.

Worrying that it seems to include the new Mac Mini which is not exactly cheap, and I imagine has plenty of users using USB 2 interfaces.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby desmond » Tue Feb 19, 2019 3:46 pm

Yeah, I started to see reports of USB 2 audio interface problems on the new Mac Mini's last week, with a response from Apple which was not exactly encouraging... (along the lines of, we didn't design the USB 2.0 support for that, or something similar.)

Obviously it's more widespread than those early reports suggested... hopefully it's not a fundamental hardware flaw and can be fixed by soft/firmware updates...
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:23 pm

desmond wrote:Yeah, I started to see reports of USB 2 audio interface problems on the new Mac Mini's last week, with a response from Apple which was not exactly encouraging... (along the lines of, we didn't design the USB 2.0 support for that, or something similar.)

Cough ... splutter ... If that's what they said it's bizarre! You don't design USB support for certain uses, you design it to meet the standard. If everyone else does likewise you shouldn't have problems; that's what standards are for!

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby desmond » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:36 pm

I was paraphrasing, because I couldn't locate the original article I read, but yeah, it wasn't good. There are other long threads of this in all the usual places for more info...

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/do ... i.2153841/
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-c ... 018-a.html

People mention Apple are aware of it and trying to fix it, and some folks have gone into quite technical speculation as to what they think might be happening. It's certainly related to the new T2 chip and it's handling of USB traffic.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:37 pm

According to a post by Ableton certified trainer Abid Hussain, the culprit is Apple’s new T2 security chip, which is built into Apple’s newest desktop and laptop machines – the iMac Pro, 2018 Mac Mini, 2018 MacBook Air and 2018 MacBook Pro.

Hussain suggests that the manner in which the T2 chip synchronizes timing is the cause of the dropouts. The only way to alleviate the problem is to switch off “Set date and time automatically” in System Preferences, though this doesn’t completely solve it.

“Unchecking the time sync only reduces the dropouts,” Hussain says. “You need to also uncheck the location sync in the Time Zone tab, but even then you’re only reducing the dropouts. Any time the T2 chip tries to sync, it will overload the USB2.0 bus, causing dropouts. There is no way any musician should go on stage with a 2018 MBP or 2018 MacMini and a USB2.0 audio interface directly connected to it.”

A more permanent solution is to buy a Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0 or Firewire audio interface, which aren’t affected by the problem, though as CDM notes, a comparable (or less powerful) Windows machine shouldn’t have problems like this with a USB 2.0 interface. Another workaround is to plug a USB 2.0 interface into a Thunderbolt 3 hub. Apple has yet to respond to the reports.


Source: https://www.factmag.com/2019/02/19/appl ... -reported/

I also saw some reports that the audio glitching can cause physical speaker damage as it can be extremely loud, so anyone using headphones should be careful if using one of the affected Mac models.

One of the videos I saw of someone reproducing the audio glitch certainly contained some extremely unpleasant and very loud overloaded audio as a result.

Possibly related:
https://www.dpreview.com/news/261096967 ... -audio-bug

https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2565401
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:24 pm

I see one proposed workaround is to plug the interface into a Thunderbolt dock. I have a TB1 dock sitting in a draw that I use very little at present. If anyone hits problems here I can maybe lend it to them until Apple eventually come through with a fix (they usually do even when they refuse point blank to admit there's a problem).

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Edit: I've got a TB3 to 1 adapter currently doing nothing as well which can be loaned.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby CS70 » Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:42 pm

Ouch, looks like Avid is soon getting company...
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby Black Sheep » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:56 pm

I am getting these issues :madas:

Mac mini 2018 with both an RME UFX and a MOTU 8pre-es, both connected via USB 2.

The RME and the MOTU are in different locations, I had some short drop outs with the RME but I put those down to network issues (I was playing audio from a local server) and didn't think about it any more, until I started using the MOTU this week. With the MOTU when the drop outs strike the audio output just stops and I have to quit whatever app I was using and reload it to get audio back, or sometimes I need to kill the coreaudiod process to get it back.

I reported this to MOTU and they came straight back and said "It's unfortunately an Apple issue that they are in the process of addressing on their end. I don't have a timeline for you, but they have put this as a top priority". Here's hoping. RME also have a thread on their forums about this with some detailed info (https://www.forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopi ... 66#p136666). Both the RME thread and the MOTU support suggested a TB3 dock may help. At least it seems that RME have done some work on their driver to make the error handling a bit more graceful!

An alternative for the RME UFX might be to use firewire (TB3-TB2 adapter + TB2-firewire adapter) and for the MOTU use thunderbolt (TB3-TB2 adapter + TB2 cable). I will give it a few days before potentially picking up these adapters; I am with the MOTU for a few more days and have disabled the "Set date and time automatically" and "Set time zone automatically using current location" options and it seems to have reduced the occurrence of the drop outs but I need to spend some more time with it and then back with the RME unit next week. I can reliably trigger an immediate drop out by ticking the first of those options again.

Obviously very annoying that the USB 2 isn't "just working". If Apple have apparently known about this for some months and a software fix hasn't come out the worry is that this is a hardware issue. Very annoying after waiting ages for the new Mac mini to come out and now this! I have also come across the fun feature where if I plug a USB 3 memory stick into the back of the mini the 2.4 GHz wifi stops working due to interference.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:53 pm

Black Sheep wrote:I reported this to MOTU and they came straight back and said "It's unfortunately an Apple issue that they are in the process of addressing on their end. I don't have a timeline for you, but they have put this as a top priority".

I should hope so too. I'm lucky enough not to be affected simply because my gear is Tbolt, but this is a bug that should never have got beyond system testing, let alone UAT.

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby redlester » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:32 am

Call me a cynic, but I would think a bendable iPhone will be their top priority right now.

I wonder if this issue will have any knock on effect on release of the long awaited new Mac Pro. I must admit, in the unlikely event that I could afford one, I would probably wait at least a year to see if any “problems” come out of the woodwork, and I bet many feel the same.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:37 pm

Probably sensible. Doubt it the phone division has much impact on the Mac division or vice versa. I think the problem is trying to save money by outsourcing system testing to the customers

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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby BobTheDog » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:38 am

I read somewhere this is fixed in 14.4 beta 5.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby Wonks » Wed Mar 20, 2019 12:31 pm

BobTheDog wrote:I read somewhere this is fixed in 14.4 beta 5.
Beta 5? So they didn't alpha test it sufficiently to get it working in the first 4 betas?

Very poor.
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby desmond » Wed Mar 20, 2019 12:37 pm

Wonks wrote:
BobTheDog wrote:I read somewhere this is fixed in 14.4 beta 5.
Beta 5? So they didn't alpha test it sufficiently to get it working in the first 4 betas?

Very poor.

You know there are *other* things they are working on in major OSX versions... :headbang:

Otherwise, they'd be on stage going "Introducing Apple OSX Dark Mojave! No new features, but hey, at least audio works on *all* Macs now"...
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby redlester » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:32 pm

BobTheDog wrote:I read somewhere this is fixed in 14.4 beta 5.

That sounds promising, but some of the affected models (iMac Pro?) pre-date Mojave I think, or may have had High Sierra or earlier installed on them. Does that mean they will still be affected?
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby Mixedup » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:51 pm

BobTheDog wrote:I read somewhere this is fixed in 14.4 beta 5.

I heard that they hope it's fixed, but that that beta is out with certain AI manufacturers to test in greater depth...

Certainly, though, it's a change of position from denying it was anything to do with Apple, which is a start ;)
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby Black Sheep » Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:30 pm

I've just updated to 10.14.4 this morning. I switched "Set date and time automatically" back on and no drop outs so far with the MOTU 8pre after a few hours, so fingers crossed this is fixed, even in Dark Mode :tongue:

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.".
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Re: Audio problems on latest Macs?

Postby Dave B » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:17 pm

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.
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