Apple has made its Mac OS X 10.5.3 update available. Among the bug fixes:

“Addresses an issue with stuttering video and audio playback in certain USB devices.”

Also interesting, given that some issues may have been related to wireless issues: “Improves 802.1X behavior and reliability.”

About the Mac OS X 10.5.3 Update [Knowledge Base HT1141 at Apple Support]

Thanks to John for the tip. (I hear shouts of joy from various people as that Software Update dialog pops up…)

This would appear to address at least some of the audio performance complaints with 10.5.2. Those of you who have been having issues who were unable to downgrade, let us know as you test if it seems to make your problems go away.

Because operating systems are complex, however, it was unclear whether this was the only issue with 10.5.x and audio, so we’ll also be watching for more comprehensive testing feedback from CDM readers and music and audio product makers. (Specifically, we had gotten reports of issues with FireWire devices as well as USB, meaning this may not be the complete fix we had hoped for. But Apple software update release notes are notorious for being vague and incomplete; as Vince notes in comments, the version number on the FireWire driver has in fact changed and there may be other changes not explicitly listed in the notes.)

  • dead_red_eyes

    You beat me to it Peter! I was just about to post in the forums about this.

    "Addresses an issue with stuttering video and audio playback in certain USB devices."

    As far as audio goes, it's strange that that's all that is mentioned. I still have not jumped aboard the Leopard train, and I must say that I am getting anxious to upgrade sometime here in the future … but I'm still worried about all the audio problems that people are having since 10.5.2. I'm running 10.4.11 on my Macbook Pro (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo), and other than the AirPort thing, it's been smooth for me.

    Just wondering, for those of you who went from Tiger to Leopard, have you seen a drop in efficiency at all? Such as Leopard being more of a system resources hog? I'd hate to update only to find that my system was a bit crippled.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Bah, and by strange I meant just USB devices? No FireWire fixes? Hmmmmm……

  • amoeba

    hmmm. i haven't had any of the issues people are having, but i just realized i have always used FW interfaces – gave up USB a long time ago. currently running a MB 2.16, 2GB ram with a MOTU ultralight.

    i love leopard. it is much snappier overall than 10.4 was (at least on intel HW). only real glitches i had during the intel and 10.5 jump was lagging driver updates (goodbye m-audio, hello motu).

    anyway, DLing the .3 update now, even tho i have two big important gigs in the next couple weeks. but that's why god made bootable backups, kids.

    only issue i have had with 10.5 is the damn loss of wireless upon wake. supposedly fixed in this delta. i'll let you know if any horror stories if/when they develop.

  • @amoeba: Oh yeah, I had seen that wireless wake issue.

    But, yeah, I believe that it's possible that for some 10.5 is an upgrade and not the source of problems. I guess the main thing is, with any OS upgrade, give yourself a chance to try it in the real world in a non-critical situation, and have a downgrade path in case you need it.

  • Max Hawkins

    I just updated and unfortunately with my Alesis Multimix 12 USB I still get distortion on my microphone around 15 seconds into recordings using Garageband, Audio Hijack or Audacity. This is getting really annoying.

  • vince

    for note, 10.5.3 has also an updated verison 2.4.2 of the apple audiofirewire driver (AppleFWAudio.kext) 10.5.2. was 2.4.0.

  • MonksDream

    @dead red

    I went from Tiger to Leopard and, other than annoyances with my FastTrackPro disapearing or making noises, it's been rock solid and doesn't seem to have slowed my machine at all. This is on an MBP 2.33 C2D machine.

  • MonksDream

    Yay!! Both the 10.5.3 AND a Logic Express update! Be still my heart…

  • dead_red_eyes

    Thanks amoeba and MonksDream. Sounds like there's no performance loss at all, which is great to hear.

  • Chris Public

    Yay…. except still waiting for Digidesign, and a whole host of other audio goodies that seemingly don't work with leopard (incl. CM Music Studio, which I've been dying to try)…

    Still dreaming of downgrading to Tiger…

  • So far so good. I was having issues with my Samson USB MIC 15-20seconds in suddenly the audio would garble up. I could change the audio from 44000 to 48000 and sometimes it would work. But it appears to be working ok at this point.

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  • My E-MU 0404 USB Sound Card has been working all day without crapping out. I was getting 20-60 minutes of continuous audio out of it before the latest update. E-MU was ready to send me a new one (ie they had no idea what the problem was).

  • Hmmm. Just updated to 10.5.3. Before the update, with 10.5.2, I had severe audio glitches during playback. It was better with the Airport turned off, but it still happened. With 10.5.3 it's much better, but with the Airport turned off it's pretty solid. I did hear maybe one or two stutters, but that was only in my torture test song when my CPU usage meter hit 45% when playing back three MIDI tracks playing internal synth plug-ins with long and luscious reverbs. I'm not 100% happy with still having to turn off my Airport, but at least it works.

    2.6 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro (which replaced the stock 2.2 GHz board during a repair), 4 GB RAM, Ableton Live 7.0.3, on both internal audio and with a MOTU Ultralite (Firewire 400).

  • vack

    I seriously hope this would fix my audio problem with my FW interface, it's been there since 10.4.10 and only gotten worse during the subsequent updates.

    Nobody else seems to have had the same problem though – instead of just glitches I often get a complete FW dropout and reset, the sound goes totally silent, and have to restart the whole damn audio software to get the sound back. Tried with several cables, tried voodoo tricks, but to no avail. Either my 1st gen MacBook doesn't like the newer OSX revisions or someting has been borken.

  • jt

    leopard problem i've had which the update has not fixed…

    i wonder if anyone has had this problem since leopard appeared. on macbook pro 2.6, built in sound uses 2-3 times more cpu than having any external fw card attached. even with the card attached and selecting "built in" the cpu will be normal. but once the card is removed the cpu shoots way back up. i've tried to re-instal the OS 3 times. 10.5.3 did not fix anything. this happens in any audio app.

    i wonder if the system extension mentioned above (appleFWaudio.kext) causes the problem.

    anyone experienced this? i've given up.

  • @jt: what you're describing sounds as though it could be related to the way scheduling happens on the OS in Leopard, so potentially more complex than just FireWire support. I'll have a follow-up post here soon.

    @vack: which FireWire card are you using?

  • Magoni

    Ableton users beware:

    Since I upgraded to 10.5.3, Ableton Live 5.2 crashes randomly (yes, it's old software, but it works fine under 10.5.2). I'm on a 2Ghz Core Duo Macbook.

    Is anyone else having this issue/has a fix for it?

  • -R.j-

    Uhm, had a bit trouble with my m-audio firewire solo, but managed to fix it with removing then reinstalling the driver for it.

    Also messed up when i tried to sync it with s/pdif but that seems sorted after a quick logout(random error)

    dmesg kept giving me invalid sample-rate error, with the beta drivers when it stuttered i just changed the sample-rate back and forth and it would work.

    Oh well seein how long it took m-aduio to release a stable 10.5.2 driver this might also take a good while too but the 10.5.2 driver seems to work up to my expectations now(128/8ms yes its not a good interface) in 10.5.3 so might just be a tinny little bugfix they have to do.

  • MonksDream

    Played with Logic after applying the updates last night. No audio glitches whatsoever. Although I left Airport on I didn't really stress test the system, however it is definitely a LOT more stable since the update.

    Oh, almost forgot, MBP 2.33Ghz C2Duo, FastTrack Pro, AlphaTrack, Logic 8,0.2

  • jt

    thanks so much peter! looking forward to the advice. this problem has been killing me.

  • I have to rescind my earlier all-clear notice. After almost going one complete work day with no glitches, it glitched out 6 times in a matter of minutes, needing a reset of the sound card each time. Maybe I'll need to send this card back, after all.

  • vack

    @ Peter: The built in bus on my 1st generation MacBook. I'm not sure what it is, I thought it was TI, but the system info seems to suggest Lucent.

    I've done some more tests and the problems seem to stem from something like system / display bus utilization or total current draw… When I unplug my external monitor, mouse and keyboard, it's still possible to get a total dropout, but it suddenly becomes a _lot_ harder. Particularily the external monitor seems to make it so much easier.

  • Magoni

    I perused my logfiles and found out that it was Native Instruments' Massive VST that was causing the crash. I don't know if they've patched it yet.

    0 Massive.Synth.vst 0x2021f8a5 NI::SYNTH8::Synth8Audio::onLowControlRate(bool) + 69

  • fiz

    This latest update leaves me unable to launch my midi server. The window telling me this suggests it may be due to a midi driver conflict, but before this update, I never had this problem.

    With the previous update, Logic's audio was glitchy, sometimes spiking erratically. So I stopped using Logic and stuck with Live, which was stable. Now I'm stranded in default midi settings with nowhere to turn but back to 10.5.2, or 10.5 I suppose. This is not fun.

    2.0 Ghz MacBook C2Duo running Logic Studio 8 and Live 7.05.

  • Thomas Cermak


    little late on this but I thought I'd add some 10.5.3 experience for those who are still searching for some.

    10.5.3 virtually cured the USB audio problem with my x-station's interface on my (second generation C2Duo 2.33) MBP. Live 7 no longer crashes while using a usb interface but does eventually produce stuttering or glitchy sound (regardless of buffer size). I think it's about time I either acquire a firewire interface or reinstall Tiger again.

  • fiz

    Thanks Thomas. I've decided to upgrade to Tiger myself — bidding on eBay for a copy as I type 🙂

  • fiz

    Bad news, from hayne, moderator over at MacOShints forums:

    "And note that it is usual for new Macs to require the latest version of the OS – i.e. you usually cannot run any version of OS X that predates the design date of your Mac. (The new hardware requires the drivers etc that only come in the later OS versions.)" (a href="" title="link")

    So for noobs like me who got started with Leopard installed on a MacBook, we get to learn as we go that our current OS is all we have to work with?

    Which means either I find a used MacBook running Tiger, or switch to Windows XP?

    This seems absurd.

  • Thomas Cermak

    This does seem absurd. I'm not sure this is true. You should post up on the macbook forums @ to see if this is indeed true. It doesn't sound right.

  • Stefan

    I’m having problems with my fast track pro. I already had it with 10.5.2. It’s some kind of distortion coming out of the fasttrack. It isn’t my monitors because the distortion is also coming from the headphone output. I’m not having the problems always, sometimes when I restart or switch off and put back on the fasttrack the problems are gone. I recently installed the 10.5.3 update, still having the same problem. Really don’t know what to do….


  • fiz

    @TC — Definitely will try that, as I happened to be the winning bidder on Tiger, for better or for worse 🙂

    I'll post whatever I find out here and maybe on CDM's forum pages too. For now I'll just add that I've already gotten some hopeful (maybe?) feedback suggesting that a) Tiger might be bootable from within Leopard as a separate partition… and/or b) that you should be able to downgrade a new MacBook's firmware to something circa-Tiger, resulting in compatability.

    Fingers crossed…cautiously….

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  • ernesto

    after some days with 10.5.3 i'm still gettin' random dropouts with the FW1814, so its not solved.

  • 10.5.4 being seeded to developers.

    10.6 (Snow Leopard) may be showcased in 4 days at WWDC.

    Usually these rumors aren't that interesting until you can hit the software update button. But 10.6 does seem to promise what people actually demand in a 10.5.x update..

    "Snow Leopard is currently on track to come out during next January's Macworld, and it will not contain major OS changes. Instead, the release is heavily focused on performance and nailing down speed and stability."

  • James

    Will 10.6 a new OS wich you have to pay for? or wil it be an update for leopard? if it would be a totally new OS that would be rediculous! That means you have to buy a new OS to have a stable an fast mac.
    I hope they will solve the problems with leaopard before they come with anything new.
    I’m still afraid to update to 10.5.3, i don’t have the abillity to backup and i don’t have severe problems with 10.5.2(i have the latest gen MBP, just three weeks old) but i have a click or pop once in a while, mostly when its first playbacking midi for the EIC in ableton live.


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  • fiz

    Not that anyone's following this thread anymore…but fwiw, my problems with Leopard on a MacBook (2Ghz, rev 3,1) that came with Leopard installed — appear to have been solved. My specific problem was that after updating to 10.5.3, I could no longer access my MIDI Setup app, and therefore could no longer configure my controller (an Edirol PCR-M1). Needless to say, this sucked!

    I went about removing all MIDI drivers from their folders (in both the main and user directories), except for the Emagic drivers that came with Leopard…thinking that they should probably stay put (cautious noob that I am). Still, no access to the MIDI Setup portion of the Audio/MIDI Setup app.

    It took me awhile to realize that I might try removing the Emagic driver too, but when I did, presto, access to MIDI Setup instantly returned. Then, I simply returned the drivers to their original folders, and everything has been working fine.

    To me this has been a lesson in fiddling around before freaking out. Whether my audio will continue to spike in Logic or not remains to be seen. I'm sticking with Live at the moment, still rubbing my ears from the last time I ran Logic with headphones.

  • fiz

    Oh yeah — before performing the above surgery, I did an Archive and Install of Leopard 10.5.3. I've been told this often smooths out many user issues.

    Oh yeah — turns out you can't run Tiger on any Mac that comes shipped with Leopard. You CAN run Leopard on a Mac that comes with Tiger. So this striped cat goes back into the sea…

  • jonny l


    keep on posting, i'm reading.

    running 10.5.2 with a firewire interface and reporting no problems.

  • Hi! I have an edirol USB audio interface and after 10.5.4, still having playback issues.

    When something tries to read from DVD driver, the sound cuts off and I have to configure the defult output to the built-in device and then to the Edirol again to get the sound back.

    Any hints on this?

  • Derek Johnson

    It's not fixed as of 10.5.5 (sigh)

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