Mac OS X: USB Audio pretty flaky

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 9th, 2003 • 4:41 pm

This is probably the kind of issue that varies from setup to setup… But this morning I was trying to record something off a small Sony tape recorder, with my Griffin iMic, and I encountered all kinds of problems.

First, if the Sound panel in System Preferences was open and I unplugged the USB iMic, the System Preferences application would “unexpectedly quit”.

Then I got things working, and moved on to something else, still with my headphones on — and all of a sudden, out of the blue I heard a high-pitched sound fading in and fading out with a “blip”. After that, the “iMic USB Audio” option in my “Input” list was gone. It was as if the iMic was no longer connected to my machine. I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Still nothing. I tried a different USB plug. Still nothing.

Finally I dug out a Griffin USB Audio Hub that I was not using, plugged it in, and plugged the iMic in the hub — and it miraculously reappeared.

All told, this was far too flaky for my taste. The iMic and USB are supposed to be “plug and play”.

I suppose (I hope!) that pro-level audio solutions work better in Mac OS X. But the consumer-level experience certainly leaves something to be desired. (The confusing design of the iMic itself doesn’t help either.)

I don’t care whether Griffin or Apple is to blame here for the flakiness. What Apple needs to recognize is that the iMic is pretty much the only consumer-level solution for audio-in for Macintosh computers without their own audio-in port (such as the consumer-level iBook), and it needs to be fully and seamlessly supported in Mac OS X. No more “unexpectedly quit” errors. No more iMic disappearing from the “Input” list. Get it fixed.

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