USB 2.0 audio interface owners are reporting dropouts when used with new Macs.
Apple’s most recent Macs suffer from a serious audio glitching problem when used with external audio interfaces, according to bug reports from several users.
According to a post by Ableton certified trainer Abid Hussain, the culprit is Apple’s new T2 security chip, which is built into Apple’s newest desktop and laptop machines – the iMac Pro, 2018 Mac Mini, 2018 MacBook Air and 2018 MacBook Pro.
Hussain suggests that the manner in which the T2 chip synchronizes timing is the cause of the dropouts. The only way to alleviate the problem is to switch off “Set date and time automatically” in System Preferences, though this doesn’t completely solve it.
“Unchecking the time sync only reduces the dropouts,” Hussain says. “You need to also uncheck the location sync in the Time Zone tab, but even then you’re only reducing the dropouts. Any time the T2 chip tries to sync, it will overload the USB2.0 bus, causing dropouts. There is no way any musician should go on stage with a 2018 MBP or 2018 MacMini and a USB2.0 audio interface directly connected to it.”
A more permanent solution is to buy a Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0 or Firewire audio interface, which aren’t affected by the problem, though as CDM notes, a comparable (or less powerful) Windows machine shouldn’t have problems like this with a USB 2.0 interface. Another workaround is to plug a USB 2.0 interface into a Thunderbolt 3 hub. Apple has yet to respond to the reports.
FACT has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post if we receive a response.