External audio for Powerbook?
November 14, 2005 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I currently use the standard 3.5mm jacks on my Powerbook and would like to upgrade to a nicer set of inputs and outputs.

I figure the only way to do this would be a USB or Firewire breakout box that provides a set of higher quality RCA or Coaxial inputs and outputs. Creative brand external soundcards might fit the bill, but these are not compatible with OSX. Is what I am looking for necessarily an external soundcard or are there breakout boxes that appear to the system as just another set of input/outputs? Thanks!
posted by suitcase to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
 
Griffin iMic seems to fit the bill.
posted by jpburns at 1:56 PM on November 14, 2005


My understanding is that it's not the jacks persay, but the amplifier and D/A that would be improved. Metal-on-metal connections being, you know, rather robust at sending electricity.

M-Audio's pretty well entrenched in this area. There are many others. Google for firewire/usb audio interface.

Ultimately, in OSX, they appear as another set of inputs/outputs (of course, that's software dependent, but it sounds like you're using pretty standard commercial software).
posted by metaculpa at 1:56 PM on November 14, 2005


I second the M-Audio recommendation, I just bought one of these. The also make some smaller, cheaper ones that are literally just a USB to RCA out.
If you're looking for something with more ins and outs I can recommend the MOTU 828 from personal experience.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:32 PM on November 14, 2005


I've been using the iMic for a few months, and it has performed admirably. It does, however, still use the 3.5 mm stereo miniplug adaptors, which are a fundamentally dodgy technology. One of these days I'm a gonna spring for something with real plugs. For casual use, though, it's fine.
posted by jeffj at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2005


To answer your original question, though, yes, what you are looking for is an external soundcard, but, as metaculpa said, they do just look like another set of inputs and outputs to the OS.
posted by jeffj at 3:59 PM on November 14, 2005


I have, and have been happy with, an Edirol UA-1X, which seems to have been replaced with this. Edirol/Roland also make much fancier things that would be more similar to the M-Audio device mentioned above, but this is fine for connecting my Mac to my turntable and amplifier (see the "Fuck Sony" thread). No driver software required, it Just Works.
Rogue Amoeba's free SoundSource menu extra is essential once you have multiple sound interfaces - you can send system beeps through the internal speakers whilst blasting out the latest disco anthems on your stereo. They also have a more sophisticated offering in Detour that lets you set prefs app by app, but it only recently became free and I haven't tried it.
posted by nowonmai at 7:24 PM on November 14, 2005


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