Question for audio guys re: Mac USB audio

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by dkeninitz, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. dkeninitz macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2003
    Germantown, MD
    I'm a longtime PC user who recently bought my first Mac (a PowerBook). I'm also a guitarist and recording enthusiast. I've primarily used dedicated recording hardware in the past - Roland VS880EX and similar - but I've also done some stuff on the PC. One of the reasons I bought a Mac is because I've always heard it's THE dream machine for audio and video. So, I was really surprised to learn that OS X isn't really USB audio-ready, or at least that's how it appears to me. Am I correct, and if so, what's up with this?

    I recently bought Reason for its synth sequencing capabilities (since I'm a guitarist rather than a keyboard player, I make heavy use of step sequencing) and now I'm debating whether to go with Logic, Cubase, DP or Pro Tools and ditch my VS880 altogether. I also bought a Roland A-37 MIDI controller and an Edirol SD-80 sound module, figuring I could use them with my PB via USB (as I can with my Win XP Dell desktop). But it looks like everything only works with OS 9, even including a simple USB-to-MIDI cable I bought for the Roland. Is it true that OS X doesn't do USB MIDI? Seems like that would be a major shortcoming for a product (Mac) that bills itself as the way to go for audio and video.

    I assume I'm just missing something here...
  2. thepannist macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2002
    works fine for me

    I use a MOTU fastlane and have had no troubles with MIDI in OSX. In fact, it is a breath of fresh air compare to the OMS / FreeMIDI days. As far as USB audio goes, Propagramma just released a public beta of their CoreAudio USB driver. It seems to work on a lot of the USB devices out there. make a long story short....yes it works, but only if you have the right drivers.

  3. neut macrumors 68000


    Nov 27, 2001
    here (for now)
    usb in oSX

    i use midi in OSX every day. using a little usb 2x midi I/O from mididman.

    its all about the drivers (check roland and edirol to see if the have OSX drivers for your USB to MIDI devices).

    my miniKorg talks to my 15" PB just fine. and i've gotten a few other controller (not mine) to work in no time. just make sure you know how to add them in you program. In Reason you must have the device attached before you start the program. Then you must select the device from the preferences and inthe sequencer (RTM).

    OSX also has a midi utility (check in utilities). Its quite handy.

    audio on a mac is cake. just have fun.

    btw- you should check into firewire audio devices if you need live monitoring and multitraking. USB can't live monitor and multitracking can be shady. I'm getting ready to purchase a metric halo I/O. I will be a truly portable studio!

  4. tjwett macrumors 68000


    May 6, 2002
    Brooklyn, NYC
    OS X is WAY USB audio ready. infact any device that uses Core Audio requires no driver insatllation at all. for USB i recommend the Emagic emi series, but i'm a longtime Logic user and fan. enjoy your new Mac!
  5. ExoticFish macrumors 6502a


    Dec 3, 2002
    The inner depths of madness, aka Kent, OH
    what about...

    can anyone give me a for sure answer as to whether the Soundblaster Extigy is supported under OS X? i've heard a simple yes and a simple no with no one saying anything else about it.
  6. alset macrumors 65816


    Nov 9, 2002
    East Bay, CA
    Re: what about...

    It appears not:

    As for the A-37, that will work with proper drivers. I use an Oxygen 8 via USB in X, just replaced a MIDI Man 2x2 MIDI Sport and now use an Emagic Unitor 8. Three USB driven MIDI devices in a row. I also use an Emagic emi 2|6 for audio via USB. X is very ready, and a breeze to set up. See the Roland website and search out some drivers.

    On the question of sequencers:

    Pro Tools has weak MIDI support. People will tell you that the latest version has improved and they will be right. It's like saying a 20 MHZ machine is an improvement over a calculator when there's a G4 still in the box. PT will be most useful to you if you are audio only.

    Also, DigiDesign has poor support. I have a friend who has had hell with his recent MBox purchase and the tech support has left him selling the MBox because it won't "just work."

    Also (again), DigiDesign is slow to market with upgrades supporting new Apple technologies.

    Also (yet again), DigiDesign get's you under their thumb by requireing their hardware to run their software and vice versa. You become locked in.

    DigiDesign makes users pay for upgrades that have few new features. I believe another friend payed $80 for OS X compatibility and a few basic MIDI enhancements.

    Cubase, while a contender in OS 9, gets poor reviews for performance and stability in industry magazines when reviewed for X. I haven't used it, but they can't all be wrong.

    Digital Performer is well liked by many people, but I find it's interface to be lagging. It is not as intuitive, flexible or comprehensive as it should be for anyone who wants to get real work done.

    I read and hear consistently from industry professionals that MOTU hardware (MIDI or audio) fails them at critical moments.

    MOTU also drags their feet supporting Apple audio/MIDI technologies.

    Logic is flexible, well maintained, owned by Apple (you see the potential advantages, here) and has fantastic support. I use Emgaic for my MIDI I/O, my audio I/O and my sequencing, recording, editing and soft synths. I have been impressed with EVERY PRODUCT THEY MAKE.

    The learning curve is a little steep, but don't let people stear you away from the advanced and well tuned machine that is Logic. It takes no time at all to get started and the startup manuals are each a fun, informative and quick read.

    Logic was the first major full production music suite to support OS X, Core Audio, Core MIDI and Audio Units. You will always be at the front of the line for updates. Constant updates are free downloads from the Emagic website. Serious jumps in the softwares archetecture are faily priced. I payed $100 to go from 5 to 6 with a real overhaul in the productivity afforded by the new release.

    Emagic offers student discounts (if that applies to you) on Logic. I have a friend who just got the discount who I can ask for more info... PM me if you need me to.

    To each his own, but I'm rock solid behind Emagic. I can't think of anything better than to trust my livelihood (as a Sound Arts major and a producer) to the very company Apple (winners of the first Technical Grammy ever awarded, for contributions to the recording industry) pursued and bought. If you appreciate what you can do with your Mac, you'll love what your can do Logic.

  7. howard macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2002
    when it comes to audio, the program you use depends on what you like. while alset is a fan of logic, i am a fan of digital performer...which just came out for os x. they took there time getting it to work right and it does! its great and it has step record, which i use often and is a very powerful tool. i'd recommend that definitely. also you said you bought reason, which for an all in one program is one of the best i've used for the price. the sounds you get are amazing and i actually find using that sequencer is fast and simple. usb and also very important firewire is all usable with the mac. os x coreaudio and coremidi are amazing utilities.
  8. alset macrumors 65816


    Nov 9, 2002
    East Bay, CA
    In response to a PM about plugins:

    I am waiting for a call back on the price. I'll let you know.

    As for plugins, Logic is easily the most complete suite for start to finish production. You'll likely want to buy dedicated hardware effects down the road, but you can't beat this collection for an all in one package.

    I have been producing music with Logic for over a year with absolutely no complaints. The EQs and time-based effects (chorus, flange, delay, reverb, phase, etc) are advanced and easy to use. There are something around 60-70 strong plugins available with Logic, plus whatever VST or AudioUnits plugins you can find.

    Apple released 10 AU plugins to demonstrate the tech. The Reverb plug I downloaded for free is the best software based reverb I have ever heard, with the exception of AltiVerb (costs $800!)

    If you check in on Logic via magazine articles (try Computer Music Magazine or Electronic Musician on the web) you will find comprehensive reviews

    As for PT plugins, PT has less support than any other pro suite. They release updates to their PT system premature to full plugin development. One of my lab instructors is a PT fan and complained to me that the new HD update only has two or three plugins that run native in X. You get a super high resolution recording that you can't treat as you would like to (yet). What was the point in buying the HD system if it is lacking?

    Another note - Most of these apps support ReWire, which allows you to sequence Reason parts and mix them within a host (i.e. I can program a drum part in Reason and mix it as part of a track in Logic).

  9. dkeninitz thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2003
    Germantown, MD
    Thanks for all the replies guys...I'm off on a driver search.

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