Apple has released another update to Leopard. So far, we hear some of you are blissfully happy, while others are still grumbling. (Ah, technology. So what else is new?)

We suspected AirPort issues with both Leopard and Tiger; many of you reported the simple fix was to turn AirPort off. The latest update:
“Addresses AirPort issues that may result in slower performance in Logic Studio or MainStage.”

Now, that’s oddly worded. Unless there’s some really specific interaction between Logic and AirPort, but no other audio apps, presumably this line actually means “…that may result in slower performance in music and audio applications.” Update: Readers tell us that’s exactly the case. So, Apple, why not simply refer to audio production apps, since third parties depend on your OS, too?

Leopard is gradually getting fixed for real-time audio performance so the number of you with problems is waning, but those of you who have had trouble through 10.5.3 with AirPort on, let us know if this fixes software from Apple or anyone else.

About the Mac OS X 10.5.4 update

  • why the hell does an Airport improvement have to affect Logic Studio?

    i am getting sick of this…

  • MK

    For example, the Airport code maybe hits the CPU quite hard periodically as it's scanning for new networks, or keeping track of incoming data. As a result there's less CPU for your music app and so you get dropouts. I'm not categorically stating that is what causes it, but am suggesting how the two could be connected.

    Computers are complex and tend to suffer from their own little "butterfly effects" – e.g. I once had a software networking problem that was solved by replacing a damaged video card, yet the video card worked fine. It's bizarre but it happens.

    If you're getting sick of it now you should maybe give up because I can't see it changing.

  • glenn

    Macbook Pro, Santa Rosa

    Ableton Live 7.07, Echo Audiofire4

    10.5.2: No problems, unlike everyone else

    10.5.3: Constant audio pops, but only in DAW. Turning off airport helps

    10.5.4: So far no problems….


  • Alexis

    I'm using tiger and the airport utility update 5.3.2.

    And no,nothing is fixed on tiger. Everytime i make music in Logic i have to switch it off.Also the same problem occurs for all the other applications like live,traktor scratch etc etc….

  • Ya fixed my issue of Low Network with Airport… Making my Breather a little easy..

  • same issue here with live7 and max/msp5, running tiger on a mbp with motu ultralite. i don't see an update that specifically addresses this, tho. is it in the security update perhaps?

  • This addresses the AirPort problems on Leopard but not on Tiger. They may be related — i.e., it may be a driver that's rolled into the OS — or they may not be. I don't know. It seems likely that they would be related since they impact the same hardware.

    For what it's worth, Vista briefly had the reverse problem — audio could impact networking performance — but this was with Vista's "consumer" audio system, not ASIO/WDM. And it did get fixed. It demonstrates that the two can interact.

    @MK: Agreed. Of course, the good news is a lot of this stuff *can* work consistently. It should give us all the more sense of accomplishment when we have everything working. 😉 And it means once we've got a stable system, we should really think about whether mucking about with it too much is worth it.

  • MK

    @Peter Kirn

    "And it means once we’ve got a stable system, we should really think about whether mucking about with it too much is worth it."

    This I think is one of the biggest issues facing musicians. Last August, I decided to buy myself a new MacBook Pro (my first Mac). I was getting married in September and heading on honeymoon for a month and the new Mac was going to be sitting idle for over a month, wasting the warranty as well, however I decided to proceed with the purchase in August, as Leopard was expected to come out very soon. I wanted my Mac to have 10.4.9 rather than 10.5.0 – because stability is important.

    If you consider yourself a professional musician, then you don't just update when a new patch comes out. You get to a stable system, and then you carefully consider the application of future patches. If you can afford it, you buy a testing system and use that to evaluate the stability of new software/patches. If you can't afford to do that, then you wait and see how other people fare. It might not be as "fun", but it's the professional way to do it.

  • @MK: Well, and I have to admit, every time I say this I get flak from someone but I really *am* frustrated with Apple's "our way or the highway" approach to updates. In theory, having one, current OS version that everyone uses is good. But what we've seen in 10.5.x — and in OS updates in the past, too — is that that isn't always the case for audio. And when Apple is having obvious quality issues that hit us directly, it's even more urgent. The fix is relatively easy; Apple could let you run the OS you want to run, as is possible with Linux and Windows. It's absolutely possible; there could just be an easier mechanism for rolling back updates and the removal of restrictions on running the previous (stable!) OS on newer hardware. But I don't see Apple ever doing it.

    By contrast, I can set a restore point on Windows, install a new patch, then uninstall it if there's trouble — no hacks needed. (Linux OS switching actually turns out to be a little trickier, but then, there's also a clear experimental/stable distinction.) I don't think there's anything unprofessional about that approach. It's not a deal-killer, necessarily, on my Mac, but it does make me wary.

  • Nasir

    I'm new to OSX-land– Peter, doesn't Time Machine provide the roll-back option for hosed installs? Or does that not quite work like Windows System Restore Points?

  • MK

    @Peter Kirn

    At the risk of sounding like a Mac fanboy, you could try the roll-back thing with a an external drive and SuperDuper! I have an MBP with a 120Gb drive, and I'm about to invest in a new 250Gb external firewire drive. Using SuperDuper! (sorry for the exclaimation marks but they seem to have done a Yahoo! on the product name) I plan on doing a full bootable backup prior to major OS changes – if something goes wrong I can restore from it, or run from it. I've chosen a 250Gb drive so that I can split it into roughly 2 drives the same size as my internal drive, and use one as regular backup, and one as an emergency backup – maybe with a nice clean version of the OS that I can use to perform recovery on the internal drive if necessary.

    Not sure what you mean by "Apple could let you run the OS you want to run" – I select what patches I want to install same as I do on Windows machines? I probably haven't been an Apple customer for long enough to get pissed off (but I certainly was a Linux/Windows user for long enough to look for something else).

  • Well, I mean the issue is, say, wanting to run 10.4.11 on your shiny, new MacBook Pro that requires 10.5, etc.

    But yes, Time Machine can be used for rollbacks. And backups always rock. An actual rollback method does give you more granular control over specific updates, though there is a fix for that, too, as discussed here:

    And those aren't "fanboy" responses, Nassir/MK — you're right, it is actually a solution. 🙂

  • MK

    I get you now – it would be nice if you could still buy Tiger (or can you) for your shiny new pre-installed with Leopard MacBook Pro. Would have saved me a month of warranty (check back to my 2nd post).

    The SuperDuper! backup method also gives you a significant advantage over System Restore/Time Machine in that you can have a completely bootable drive that you can start the Mac from if the internal drive became corrupted. Theoretically you could use this to have two distinct systems – your "pristine" audio production system, and your bog-standard system where you do your surfing etc. I've sort of gone down this route already by having my normal user account for day-to-day tasks, and and Audio user account which is only for music production. Helps in giving focus as well!



  • Well, right — I don't see Time Machine as a replacement for a real backup. And Time Machine introduces more OS compatibility dependencies, so that's another reason for an independent backup procedure.

  • Paul

    macbook 10.411

    nintendo ds and macbook fluently speaking with each other via airport

    i don't know why it seems like everyone has sucha problem doing this

    so far for my wiriless midi controller i have

    128 toggles

    15 sliders

    and 30 knobs

    thank you nintendo!

    sorry this was off topic but i just felt like saying is all

  • ernesto

    well no audio dropouts today neither yesterday. it's kinda early to validate a fix, and also there's no mention to FW on the update log. but so far so good!!!

  • jt

    i've posted this when the recent 10.5.3 update was released but again 10.5.4 does not fix the following problem on a penryn macbook pro. 2 other laptops confirm the problem.

    when using the built in sound core audio driver, the macbookpro will use twice as much cpu in any audio app. connect any firewire audio card and the cpu usage will drop in half (even if the driver is not selected). it seems to only affect penryn mac book pros and is super frustrating.

    nothing including multiple OS installations seem to help at all.

  • Zach

    I'm happy to say that my Logic issues are over (for now?). I had the annoying process of Archiving and Installing back to 10.5.1 after the disastrous 10.5.2 update, which rendered Logic pretty much unusable. I made the leap to 10.5.3, but had to turn off wireless. Now with 10.5.4, I can use Logic with wireless on!

    As per, Apple "forcing" you to update, It is not the case. When I was running 10.5.1 I just would close Software Update when it occasionally popped up with a reminder to update to 10.5.2. This is far less annoying that repeated nagging of Windows to update and it's attempts to apply updates when you shut down or restart (particularly annoying when you restart when installing a program). Having used Windows and Linux, I find that OSX allows you install whichever updates you want and is not that annoying about it. It's not like you can't install Office (or other programs) without a Service Pack installed.

  • @Zach: you have a choice in terms of going forward, but two things are more difficult:

    1. rolling back updates selectively / on-demand without a hack

    2. running an OS older than the one approved for a current machine

    Both of these ought to be possible theoretically. As others have pointed out, though, there are workarounds or hacks that can yield this possibility.

  • I just updated to 10.5.4 last night from 10.5.2 hoping it would fix my usb DAC static problems. It let me record sweet sweet music for an hour then it decided that whatever I was recording needed to be obliterated by a snow storm of opaque spirits deflating static. Very very sad.

    I run a macbook 2.16ghz with 2 gig of ram. A mike goes into a Behringer 802 mixer which goes into a Behringer UC202 USB interface. Software wise I'm running garage band and audacity. So a pretty budget system. I've tried various hacks, like reverting to the pre 10.5 USB audio driver, but to no avail.

    If anyone has any pointers, would be much appreciated. Alternatively, if you are experiencing similar problems, you are not alone!