Mac Mini Distorted USB Sound

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Ted W, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. Ted W macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Location:
    VT
    #1
    Hi

    I have a 2010 Mac mini that serves as a Music Mac. I use the USB out to a DAC on my NAD Amplifier. I mostly use it for Spotify. Recently it started to have a distorted sound. It will play well for awhile, 20 - 30 minutes or so, and then start distorting the sound. If I switch to the internal speakers and then right back to the NAD USB driver to the Amp then the distortion will clear. Same clearing of the distortion occurs if I pull out the USB wire and push it back in. I use the USB out at the back of the Mac.

    When it plays right, it plays great.

    The operating system is UTD [El Capitan] it includes the NAD driver.

    I got a new cable [Belkin] thinking it is the cable - no difference.

    Can't figure this out and it place my marriage at risk...

    Thanks!

    Ted
     
  2. Osty macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, AU
    #2
    I've been hearing lately that Apple have been messing around with Core Audio in the last couple of releases and it's USB Audio that seems to be suffering for it. I haven't had any issues though with Firewire audio though.

    If your Amp has optical in, try using your Mac's optical output instead (it's cunningly disguised in the 3.5mm audio jack)
     
  3. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2013
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #3
    Say Ted W!

    Did you tell Apple about this? Your USB sound issue seems like something that Apple should know about ASAP. :apple:
     
  4. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #4
    Hard to pinpoint the cause here. If your NAD is contributing to the problem you'll only know if you try another USB audio device with the Mini.

    Have you tried disabling bluetooth or wifi? Tried setting the Mini to never "sleep"?
     
  5. Ted W, Dec 16, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015

    Ted W thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Location:
    VT
    #5
    Hi

    First I just want to thank you guys for your help!

    When the problem began I changed the DAC in the NAD, the problem persisted. I then got another USB cable [Balkin] that got good reviews here I tried the Mac Mini again no joy. I have another Mac Mini so I swapped them and the new one is playing fine now for several days.

    The original Mac Mini played fine for couple month then started this distortion. It starts to distort after playing for some 20 min - 1 hour. If I would change to internal speaker, then back to the USB out, the distortion would clear for a while and then return.

    Strange behavior I am not sure which component in the Mini may cause it.
     
  6. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #6
    It could very well be a software issue. I was having audio distortion issues in iTunes/Mavericks but after a total reinstallation from fresh they seem to have gone away. I was having other system issues that pushed me to do the reinstallation.
     
  7. wowbobwow macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 18, 2016
    #7
    First: I'm new around here and I hope it's okay that I'm resurrecting this old thread!

    I've also got a Mid-2010 Mac Mini (the server edition, in my case) running Mac OS X 10.11.4, and using my Microsoft USB headset works great... for ~20 minutes at a time. At some random time (whether listening to music, watching a video, doing a WebEx meeting, etc.), the audio on my USB headset will go all garbled and distorted, and it can only (sometimes) be resolved by unplugging the headset and plugging it back in. Super annoying, especially when it happens during a meeting!

    Any tips or suggestions on where I could even begin fixing this? The headset I'm using is known-good, and the OS on this Mini is a fresh install, if that helps.
     
  8. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #8
    Ok, here's a total guess on my part, but let me throw it out anyway -- I assume that your headset receives not only audio data over the USB bus, but is also powered by it. Perhaps the headset is unhappy in some manner with the power level or quality provided to it?

    I myself am using a similar USB sound card on a 2010 Mini, but I currently have mine plugged in to an external self-powered USB hub, rather than plugged directly into the Mini. If you have one to test with, perhaps you could try using a powered hub and see if the problems go away...
     
  9. wowbobwow macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 18, 2016
    #9
    Thanks for the reply - that's not a bad idea at all. This headset is a pretty plain / boring one (Microsoft Skype USB set I've had for about a year) and I have a hard time imagining that it needs more power than a typical Mac USB port puts out... but I'll give it a shot.
     
  10. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #10
    :) I have had so many speakers / microphones / various audio devices go bad over the years whenever there's a power spike (even if it's just static electricity from me touching the end of the speaker wire) that whenever I have a problem now, I first try to check the power leading to the device...
     

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