10 Replies Latest reply: May 29, 2011 1:09 PM by Mazarine
Mazarine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I'm using a Mac Mini, Mac OS X 10.6.7, GarageBand, and a USB webcam/mic combination. Under "Audio Devices" in the Audio MIDI Setup program I have the following devices listed:

Built-in Input

Built-in Output ("Use this device for sound output" is selected)

Unknown USB Audio Device ("Use this device for sound input" is selected)


At the moment my microphone is working just fine. The mic is picking up my voice correctly and I can record it using GarageBand. The problem is that it won't stay that way, and it takes me a very long time to get it working in the first place.


The devices are always listed correctly in the audio window. Audio MIDI Setup consistently recognizes that I have a USB Audio Device plugged into my Mac. In GarageBand, this is reflected under the Voice section in the "Input Source" dropdown menu. I verify that the input source is correctly set to the USB mic, and the output source is correctly set to my headphones. I verify that the Monitor dropdown box is set to "On" or "On (no feedback protection)".


However, the mic simply does not pick up any signal sometimes. There is no sound whatsoever. GarageBand's volume indicator for the input source, to the right side of the Measures/Bar/Beat box, will show no green marks if I speak into the mic. When this happens, I have to just fiddle with it for a long time until I get it working again. I try restarting, I try changing settings, etc. I've gotten it working as both a plain "Unknown USB Audio Device", and as an "Aggregate Device".


Once I get it working it stays up for hours. I can happily record vocals. Eventually though, it stops working all by itself. I just leave the mic plugged in and GarageBand running, and when I come back to it the mic is no longer able to pick up sound.


As far as I can tell, the issue is not with GarageBand. I've had the same problem using a full DAW program. I use my webcam/microphone with Photo Booth, and it works flawlessly, so the hardware is functioning. When I get it working with an audio program, it works fine -- clear sound, etc. I suspect the issue is with Audio MIDI Setup.


I recently ordered a copy of Logic Studio and I'd like to create complete songs including vocals using my Mac, so this is rather frustrating. Anyone having similar issues? Any help is appreciated.

Mac mini, Mac OS X (10.6.7)
  • AussieDJ Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    Ok, what is your USB audio device exactly? Is it an external sound card? USB is terrible for most audio, except when you have a MIDI keyboard plugged in via USB. The reason USB is bad, is because the speed is not constant. It is up down all the time. Especially if you have other things plugged into the other USB ports, and a hub would just destroy it. So do you have a microphone plugged directly into usb, or external soundcard?  If your getting logic, your obviously pretty serious about what your doing.


    Also, could be when computer hibernates and wakes up, that ¨that¨ process could have knocked out the audio. Just unplug and plug back in & it ˆshouldˆ restart itself.


    Send through what you have plugged into what.

  • Mazarine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm using a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 (which has a microphone on the side). I have several other devices plugged into separate USB slots: a keyboard, a mouse, my iPhone, and a Roland keyboard midi controller.


    I've considered that maybe the webcam/mic combo is the culprit. If USB doesn't work at a constant speed, that could very well be causing the issue! The sound begins to lag badly sometimes when it's working properly, so that there's a multisecond delay between speaking and hearing my voice repeated back over the mic which is another sign that something is wrong. I've also caught it making a strange electronic sound during its "hang" time once it stops taking sound input correctly.


    Maybe I should try to use line-in and forgo USB altogether then. I think I'd need a preamp and some sort of converter for that since the Mac Mini lacks a powered mic jack. I'm only a newbie musician so I've never set up such a system but it might be a better solution in the long run.


    I'll check to see if it hangs before or after my computer enters suspend mode, that's a good suggestion too. Thank you for your help!

  • AussieDJ Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    Yeah. Well I have an Apogee Duet. And they are the ducks guts & great value. But I notice their Duet 2 uses USB, however has a lower latency & her frequency recording... This is strange to me because I've always been told you need firewire, which is what I ended up getting.


    They make this as well - http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/one.php - USB again, but I have not heard anything about their latency. Would be perfect for you though.

  • Mazarine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, that does look ideal. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I'll have the same issue with it. I stopped by the Apple store this afternoon and picked up the best mic they had "for Professional Recording", the Yeti Pro Ultimate USB and XLR Microphone, but I'm having the same problem with the new mic.


    It's plugged in, the settings are correct, but no sound. It shows up correctly as "Blue USB Audio 2.0" in System Preferences -> Sound -> Input but it's picking up no vocals (and it doesn't work in GarageBand again either). If I can't run it to line-out with a preamp, I may have to take the entire setup to the Apple store and pester them about it, this is just the strangest problem.

  • AussieDJ Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    Take it back.


    You need a firewire soundcard and you are find.


    The Mini's have 1 firewire on them yeah?


    That should run on a seperate bus to the USB's (4?).


    This is mine - I just took a photo:


  • Mazarine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, there's 1 firewire on the Mini and 5 USB slots.


    Just some extra info should anyone have similar issues: I've tested the new mic on someones MacBook Pro and it works just fine. It's definitely an issue with my USB slots, perhaps they aren't providing adequate power to my mic devices. It looks like I'll just have to workaround the issue.

  • AussieDJ Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    Mazarine wrote:

    ..perhaps they aren't providing adequate power to my mic devices.. It looks like I'll just have to workaround the issue.


    I think perhaps that the 'mini'  buses are overloaded a bit, if it's got 4 on 1 bus. And yeah, a lot of these usb devices want to take their share of power too. So you would have to try it with everything unplugged except your microphone & see how it goes.

  • Mazarine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yeah, I tried that already. I'm actually trying to test the new mic on a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. I jumped the gun assuming it worked on the MacBook Pro -- it did recognize the device and pick up sound, but once I opened up GarageBand it merely plays a screeching feedback sound and dies. Upon further inspection, it works as inconsistently as the original mic -- meaning often it just doesn't work at all. I've tried this with the Reason DAW also, and it's still failing.


    I've gotten an educated second opinion (a senior level programmer who writes iPhone software so he's familiar with Macs), and neither of us have had any luck figuring it out. He suspects that if the device is drawing too much power from the USB, it shuts down and stops working. I won't be able to buy any new equipment to test until tomorrow but I could try to copy your Firewire/Duet setup or see if a preamp will do the trick to supply some extra power.

  • AussieDJ Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    So I just took a photo of the I/O of the sound card. You can see 2 MIC in's, which can be used as 48 phantom, and also 2 outputs to the monitors, and another 2 inputs L & R for either instrument or whatever you like really.


    You can even buy 3rd party custom breakout boxes http://www.duetbreakout.com/ for the unit which are balanced & are in a small neat box with your own custom plugs on it.


    So that kind of gives you another perspective aside from the USB microphone, and how you be approaching things differently depending on if you went USB mic's, or Soundcard, or portable recording device etc etc.


    Duet Apogee.JPG

  • Mazarine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    An update: I just got back from an appointment with Apple's in-store support team. The guy who was assigned to help me took his time and tested the mic repeatedly and thoroughly on 2 of my computers, and he tested it on the Apple store's computers also (they have their own MacBook laptops back there at the Genius Bar for testing purposes). He had the exact same problem. Most of the time the mic did not detect any sound -- a couple of times it detected sound, then died as soon as he opened GarageBand. Ultimately we were unable to get it working. He was able to verify that the problem is with the Mac software rather than a device malfunction, user error, or underpowered USB ports. He suggested downgrading to a previous version of the OS. So I believe any USB audio device will fail, regardless of whether it's a mic or an audio interface. At this point, I am just going to use a completely different setup for my digital music.


    Thank you very much for trying to help AussieDJ   Hopefully this thread will help others who are having similar problems.