I could live with no bass, but what kind of life is that?
May 31, 2011 5:36 PM   Subscribe

OldMacFilter: I've found myself in the possession of a PowerMac G4 and a Harman Kardon iSub. They both work, but when I adjust the system volume with the keyboard the subwoofer goes quiet. What's the deal?

I'm running the latest update of Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.whatever) on the G4. I have some official Apple speakers (not sure of the name, but they're spherical and grapefruit-sized) plugged into the speaker output and the iSub goes into USB.

The whole affair works, I get a Subwoofer Volume Control slider under Sound Preferences, and it sounds pretty good for Free Speakers, but when I adjust the volume with the keyboard the iSub seems to drop down to some default volume which is very low. It doesn't turn off completely -- setting the subwoofer volume to the minimum sounds tinnier, and I can still feel the subwoofer working a bit. If I go into Sound Preferences the subwoofer kicks back in again when I move the subwoofer slider or change the volume.

So in short: Changing volume in Sound Preferences works fine, but using the convenient keyboard controls messes something up.

Google seems find a few people with my problem but no solutions other than Apple's brilliant suggestion to try unplugging/replugging the iSub, which doesn't work. The G4 is a "Quicksilver" model, if it matters.
posted by neckro23 to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
None of the following will help you, but I feel your pain.

I owned this model, and those same damn spherical speakers. I think this was the first model featuring something called "Digital Audio". Whatever else this meant, the speaker port is actually non-standard. Closely examine the plug on those speakers and I think you'll find it is longer and contains a extra conductor compared to the standard mini plug.

I found these speakers had a horrible annoyance: any audio softer than a certain amount would just get nulled by the speakers totally. So, soft portions of music would just go completely quiet.

Plugging and unplugging the speakers altered the effective settings in the Sound preference pane as well. They didn't play nicely with a speaker/headphone combo if I recall correctly.
posted by fatllama at 7:48 PM on May 31, 2011

Hmmm... I had a similar setup some years back; not any more though, so I can't check. First stupid question would be are you sure the round speakers don't actually plug into the iSub, rather than the computer? Think mine did; that way everything's on USB.

Second thing to look at is "Audio Midi Setup" in your Application/Utilities folder, which will give you more options than the standard sound preferences. Try experimenting with some different options there...
posted by momentofmagnus at 7:55 AM on June 1, 2011

I can't find any concrete references, but random browsing seems to suggest that Applescript is able to work with most control panel settings, including Sound Preferences. So one workaround might be to make a script that adjusts both settings in tandem, and bind the volume adjust shortcut to your script rather than the default action. It's a kludge, but this sounds like the kind of thing that will be ignored unless it directly affects the developers, sadly.
Sorry I can't provide more help, this is a bit difficult to research without a mac to test things out on.
posted by marakesh at 11:45 AM on June 1, 2011

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