8 Replies Latest reply: Aug 28, 2015 11:05 AM by appsonite
zme244 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I hope someone can point me in the right direction here...


I bought a brand new 2012, 13", MacBook Pro a few days ago for a number of reasons, but the main being music recording. After purchasing I realized there is no LINE-IN on the new MacBook?! I browsed a few forums to find that others are having the same issue I am.


I decided to buy a chord called a Lightsnake, that is a 1/4" guitar jack on one end, and USB on the other. However, there is a slight delay between when I pluck a string, to the audio coming through my headphones. It makes the chord unusable because I can never layer tracks perfectly.


Does anyone know of another solution that isn't going to run me a few hundred dollars that will allow me to record my guitar into Garage Band? I'm still within the 30-day return policy, and if I cannot find a reasonable solution I'm going to have to upgrade to the 15" MacBook Pro, which comes with the line-in?! (Which is a whole separate annoyance for another forum post)


Please Help!! This is my first MacBook after being a Windows user forever, and I'm already questioning my decision.


Thanks in advance for any help.

GarageBand (Mac) '11, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2), 2012 MacBook Pro, 13"
  • Edgar Level 4 Level 4 (2,475 points)

    First of all, let me welcome you to the Apple world, where the grass is always greener on this side. Don't question your decision, you made the right choice.


    Regarding your question:


    Solution 1: external

    You can use an external audio interface via the USB bus. There are plenty to choose from in any price range. The more expensive ones provide a lower "latency" and I think that is the problem with your cheaper Lightsnake device. It has a built-in analog-digital converter in it and that must be not that good of a quality which introduces such a high latency (the time needed to do the digital conversion) that you can hear it.


    Solution 2:

    It seems that many users are not aware that the newer MacBooks have a "double duty" audio port. Unfortunately, it is labeled with a headphone icon which points to an "audio out". However, this port can be used as ad audio out (Sound Output) or audio in (Sound Input). You set that in the System Preferences > Sound window

    With a 1/4" to 1/8" cable, you could connect your electric guitar directly into your Mac. Check the input level meter in the System Preferences if your guitar signal (or other audio signal) is high enough. Although the quality might not be the best (compared to a good external Audio Interface), I would bet that the analog-digital converter (ADC) are better that your Lightsnake cable, resulting in a much lower latency




    Hope that helps



    Edgar Rothermich



    'I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.'

  • zme244 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the reply Edgar.


    I originally bought a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter because I did hear about the "double duty" audio port. But it does not recognize it as an input. I don't have that drop-down "Use audio port for" option. However, even if it did work I wouldn't be able to use my headphones and record at the same time.


    I will continue looking around for another USB option over the next 25 days or so, before my 30 day return policy runs out. I have a feeling I'll be returning this one for the 15", which has the line-in. That way I won't have to buy any more questionable, 3rd party, peripheral devices.


    Last thing, what about the iRig? I am reading mixed reviews on all the forums and am not sure if I should cough up another $40 for something that won't work how I expected.


    Thanks again for the response! Much appreciated.

  • isteveus Level 5 Level 5 (4,305 points)

    Doesn't matter if you use line in or a interface sometimes you get latency. I've been doing digital recording for about 10 years and the few times I have had latency problems a simple restart of the software or of the driver fixes this.


    The Lightsnake is very low end so that could be the problem. Again noticeable latency is not that common but does happen time to time. The only way to totally eliminate this no mater what platform or software is to use a audio interface and monitor the input dry.


    Last weekend I used my MacBook Air to record 4 channels at the same time with a super cheap Alesis i/o 4. All channels were monitored wet with effects on all of them and no latency.

  • zme244 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Good to know about the latency issues.


    Is the chance of latency lower if I used the direct line-in port on the 15" MacBook with a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter, compared to using a USB connection?


    Thanks steve.

  • isteveus Level 5 Level 5 (4,305 points)

    There is always some latency. Almost always it is so small you would never notice. So of course you can get latency using the Line-in on any computer, chances are about the same as you would with a newer interface.


    As for the Lightsnake, people have been using them with garageband on less powerful Mac's then yours without any problems. It could be it just doesn't work well with the new os or just a freak thing. Could be you try it again and everything is fine.


    I believe if you plan on using your mac for recording more then just a few times then a interface is something you should have. It's a relatively inexpensive piece of gear that can improve recording quality, can be used with a verity of instruments and mics and most importantly makes recording easier.

  • Edgar Level 4 Level 4 (2,475 points)

    isteveus wrote:


    Doesn't matter if you use line in or a interface sometimes you get latency. I've been doing digital recording for about 10 years and the few times I have had latency problems a simple restart of the software or of the driver fixes this.


    Be careful with this statement. You make it sound like that latency is a matter of luck, maybe you get it maybe not, like a cold in the winter.

    Latency is a delay between input and output in digital audio that is introduced into the signal chain due to all the components in that signal chain. Every component (mainly ADC and DAC but also any additional plugins) is a piece of software that takes the input data, crunches the numbers (data) and sends it to the next component. This number crunching takes time, even if it is only a few milliseconds or microseconds.

    Each component has its own latency (time delay) and that depends on how complex the data processing is and how efficient that component performs that process.

    The overall latency then (in-out roundtrip) is the sum of all those individual latencies.


    One of the reasons why ProTools is/was the defacto DAW standard for professional recording studios was is low latency which was performed in their external proprietary hardware. When Apogee introduces their Symphony system, it allowed  host-based recording with equally low latency

    Another consideration: The typical situation with Logic (Cubase, DP, etc) where you have lots of plugins running requires that you increase the buffer size (a type of additional  "self-induced" latency) which creates problem with the increased latency. You mentioned correctly that a usual remedy is to monitor on the external audio interface and not "through the software" during the recording.


    I just want to make sure that the casual GarageBand user doesn't get the wrong impression that latency can get fixed with a restart (there are other beneficial reasons for doing that). Latency is always there in digital audio, it is always an issue. The question is just when it becomes a problem for you. Usually, in a GarageBand situation, latency might not be a problem so the user doesn't have to know or worry about it in the first place.

  • isteveus Level 5 Level 5 (4,305 points)

    I know it can't be fixed with a simple restart but should always be tried before bringing back a new computer because you had some latency. Also sometimes something like a sleeping harddrive or some other process can cause a hickup that leads to latency and a restart of the DAW or the audio driver does the trick.


    And there has to be thousands of people using the Lightsnake with garageband that are not having this issue.

  • appsonite Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This solved it for me: Go to Garageband->preferences and Reset Midi Drivers. Fixed it right away.