Generally, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has been working pretty well for most users, though we continue to hear a number of complaints about compatibility with M-Audio hardware. There are some annoyances, though, including one glitch as far as routing audio between apps. Updated: the good news is, this is fixable.

jack_small.jpgIn the “bad” category, Paul Davis, the creator of JACK and Ardour, writes:

Leopard has stopped JACK and other inter-application audio routers from being used as the default audio device. Apple is now distributing an SDK that is aimed at “aiding” developers in writing user-space CoreAudio “drivers” such as JACK and SoundFlower. Early reports suggest that the SDK requires a much more complex design. JACK still runs on Leopard, and so JACK-aware apps (i.e. Linux audio apps ported to OS X like Ardour and Jamin) can use it, but native apps can no longer be connected to each other or to JACK applications. Work is underway to make JACK use this new SDK but it appears to be a non-trivial effort. Apple’s motive in making this change is not clear.

Now, the good news. JACK OS X’s developers chime in in comments to point out progress is being made. And this is even a good thing. (Unfortunately, such is the way with OSes — for even small improvements, you have to break, then fix things, then reap the benefits, sometimes not immediately.) From Stephane:

  • SoundFlower is actually a “kernel space” driver that is somewhat much more easier to develop and maintain
    • Apple SDK is definitively a step forward to develop more compliant “user-space” drivers, even if mastering the new code layering takes some time…
    • as Dan said, the new version is almost ready and should be more compliant (more application working correctly with it)

    And a beta is available now.

    In other words, if you use these apps in a critical project, you might want to hold off upgrading, but otherwise all is well. I’ll be sure to post an update when a fix is ready. Note that Audio Hijack is now compatible with Mac OS X 10.5, though that doesn’t allow many of the musical applications possible with JACK and SoundFlower.

    A subtler UI annoyance, Apple has somewhat crippled the audio previews you get in Finder’s multi-column view. You get the “play” button in the last column, as before, but no scrubbing or volume control. QuickLook, fortunately, solves the problem. Hit space and you get a full view of your audio file. At first, I thought this would be less convenient, thinking you’d have to preview files one at a time. But you can navigate from one file to another by scrolling up and down with the keyboard to select different files. Thanks to David Hollands for this tip; David says he’s finding QuickLook to be slower than using multi-column view.


    Another alternative would be to use a dedicated utility like Iced Audio’s AudioFinder for your sample sorting, which may be better than Leopard or Tiger anyway, depending on your preference.

    Sure enough, today we learn that AudioFinder’s new sample editor is in beta. Combined with AF’s other sample juggling tools, the fix may actually be more interesting than the problem.