Background: Many laptop-based Mac OS X users are experiencing significant audio issues on Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard. On Tiger, the culprit appears to be the AirPort Extreme Update 2008-001 released earlier this spring. One workaround on Tiger is to simply turn off AirPort. On Leopard, the problem appears to be slightly more complex, but generally linked to 10.5.2; several software vendors are recommending music users avoid that update for now. (10.5 / 10.5.1 appear unaffected.) The issue is not universal on Leopard (some laptop Mac users report no problems), but if you are experiencing issues, the only current solution appears to be downgrading your entire system to an earlier release (via Time Machine or reinstalling).
Fortunately, on Tiger there’s a more specific temporary fix.
Tiger Fix: Musician Georgi Marinov has posted step-by-step instructions for reverting the AirPort Extreme Update to the previous release (2007-004). This fix will work only for Tiger users, apparently on specific MacBook Pro and Mac mini models.
I’d personally like to see Apple add some facility for uninstalling updates on all releases, as some other operating systems do. (Yes, you can use Time Machine, but that’s more of an argument for building this feature into Software Update.) But regardless, with any OS and any update (and certainly with this unsupported procedure), be sure to backup before applying any update to a critical machine.
If you do apply this, let us know if it works for you.
Photo: Telstar Logistics. (Hey, it was either that shot of SFO airport or another apple or tiger or something silly.)
Update: via Kris on comments, it appears the newest ("Penryn") Apple laptops are unaffected, presumably a side effect of using Broadcom chips. (That’s not to say the chip is to blame, but the software support for the different chips might be.)