M-Audio has actually gotten in touch in response to frustrations about incompatibilities with OS updates — updates which, admittedly, have recently been frequent and sometimes troublesome on both the Windows and Mac sides. Niels Larsen, General Manger at M-Audio, responds in comments with some specifics on where drivers are, some new drivers that were released literally today, and some comments on the OS situation in general.  (I’ve copied it here just in case you missed it in comments.)

I’ve also heard from Digidesign/M-Audio public relations; I hope to have additional updates soon.

This is well worth reading whether or not you own M-Audio hardware.

From comments:

Hi all,

I’m Niels Larsen, General Manager of M-Audio. I am posting here not to throw things at Peter:-) for writing this article but to recognize to you all that we are aware that we are disappointing many of our users. With OS updates not being entirely voluntary anymore it gets increasingly frustrating for users to suddenly find that their systems don’t work from one day to the next.

I am sorry that we are prolonging this frustration by being late in delivering compatible drivers. It affects many of our loyal users and it therefore also affects our business.

So what’s the current status? I have tried to outline for you below where we are as of today:

Leopard
Today we posted release drivers for our Firewire Solo/Audiophile/410/1814/Ozonic and NRV-10. We still have work to do on Profire Lightbridge and Projectmix but outside of these two products our Leopard development is complete. I hope users who have experienced problems with the beta drivers will find the new drivers trouble-free.

http://www.m-audio.com/news/en_us-1267.html

XP SP3
The statement from http://www.m-audio.com that Peter referenced in his article above was correctly quoted. We actually did ourselves a disservice by not providing more information and have corrected that today in the following link:

http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=support.faq&ID=620a9083da49326e05cbb00e653a528d

Of course we also have to fix the installers that don’t work under SP3. It’s not only frustrating for our users, its also a burden on our tech support team. We will provide more information about that during next week as we get a better overview of the timeline.

Projectmix and Vista 32
We posted the 32 bit release driver for Projectmix about a week ago and that leaves Transit, Mobile Pre and Ozone still in beta.

Vista SP-1 & Vista 64
We have been recruiting for beta testers on our website for a little while but the truth is that we are still some way off with both of these two projects. We have to finish our other Windows projects completely before we can fully engage but I hope you are getting a sense from the above that things are looking up on that front. Before long, our development should be focused entirely on these two issues and as we are in beta already we hope that development will go relatively smooth.
We are fully aware that Vista 64 is a big deal particularly because of the RAM constraints within Vista 32, so we take this seriously. We plan to give a timeline update on our website once we have put Vista 32 and XP SP3 behind us.

Going forward, I hope you will see an improvement in our support as our driver team is growing with new hires and an increased commitment to support OS updates in a timely fashion. I appreciate that we are not perfect until the day that we are able to launch driver update within minutes of a new OS revision. Recently we have been far off that mark and need to at least get closer to perfect.

Thanks for listening.

Niels

Thanks, Niels, for being so open. It may not make people any less frustrated with various updates being out of sync, but I think we do appreciate knowing more about what’s happening behind the scenes. (And based on feedback we’ve gotten, M-Audio/Digidesign are far from alone with difficulties with some of these recent OS updates.)

We have some more stories on 64-bit Windows and other operating system changes forthcoming; if anyone has more they’d like to know, do say so. I will follow up more on M-Audio specifically next week once I’ve had a chance to talk to them.

And this also illustrates why, when you are having trouble, don’t be quiet about it. Let the folks you bought your gear from know specifically what’s happening. We’ll continue to track how responsive they are to your needs.

  • http://nowheretobe.wordpress.com Johnny Pneumonic

    After getting over its very formal nature I definitely think this is a pretty encouraging action to take for what I feel is one of the larger music/digital audio equipment and software companies around.

  • http://www.pegritz.com Derek C. F. Pegritz

    Will somebody please explain to me why it's goddamn near-impossible for professional audio hardware manufacturers to write a simple driver for Windows Vista, especially now that the OS has been on the market for well over a year? Is the audio architecture for Vista that hard to work with, or is Creative Labs' "Who Gives A Shit About An OS Maybe 5 People Use" attitude toward their customers more prevalent?

    I dual-boot my computer: XP for general use and audio work (because my M-Audio MobilePre USB barely works in Vista), and Vista for data management and organization. I would like to use Vista as a full-time OS, as I find that it starts up faster and is somewhat more stable than XP, but until M-Audio actually bothers to FINISH a damned driver for my device (the MobilePre driver has been in beta for over a year) I'm stuck in XP.

  • ernesto (costa rica)

    Amazing site. From this part of the world (central america) is near impossible to think about getting direct response. I hope the drivers work since i really don't want to go into a downgrading experience, given that the firsts Leopard versions have a very unstable Finder and other non-audio glitches.

    Either way, it has become a lame lame lame experience, a very disappointing, embarrassing and frustrating one; with audio problems that i've never experienced since getting my first mac, running system 9, many years ago (MBP / 10.5.2 / m-audio FW1814).

  • Sebastien Orban

    Derek : I want a midi controler, but as I'm on Vista 64, I'm stuck (more or less). This situation is clearly not right, even kind of strange…

    Well. Novation, here I go?

  • Jonathan

    Vista drivers might not be complete, but that sort of attitude is still quite a mile ahead of Creative's way of dealing with things …

  • http://myspace.com/inzs Inzs

    I've actually been having problems with my mobile pre soundcard.. Even though I rarely use it, it's still frustrating..

    Inzs

  • James

    Great… So M-Audio/Digidesign seems to doing their thing to appease their consumer customers, which is great. But seriously. Digidesign (M-Audio's parent company) has no excuse leaving us professional studio owners hanging. I hate the fact that Digidesign seems to not give a shit about us. I drop tens of thousands of dollars on Digidesign TDM gear and it's updating is kept to a crawl. There is no excuse for this. It's great their paying attention to the consumer side of things since most large companies skimp on that part, but where's the pro line support. Digidesign is a joke and if it wasn't an industry standard and great NLE I would have switched to Nuendo with Apoggee gear. Sorry… had to vent. Sick of giving these people so much money and not getting any support, what so ever…… phew, done ranting… for now!

  • James

    ^whoops….. they're…. not their. spelling went out the window once I started ranting.

  • audiodestruction

    This is why I have never jumped on the update wagon. haha. It is definately a serious issue and although my studio is full of M-Audio gear I have never once had a problem. When I switched to mac a while back they were awesome at tech support in getting me started fildling with my settings. I think that a personal response is something that should be taken into consideration when our market is getting bigger and starting to have more "big box" name brand products that actualy serve needs. Open up the drivers and let the people in!!!

  • dead_red_eyes

    "we are aware that we are disappointing many of our users."

    Well, it's nice to see the honesty … but I really wonder what's going on. It took just one guy (Daniel_K) to provide better drivers than what Creative was putting out …

    http://gizmodo.com/373748/creative-presents-cease

    So why in the hell can't a HUGE and rich company like M-Audio/Digidesign get some competent people to make some drivers? If Daniel_K can do it for Creative, then what the hell?! I'm not a developer/coder so I don't understand all the work that goes into it … but when a normal guy can fix drivers for a huge company like Creative, what does that say?

  • Sizzurp Sippa

    dead_red_eyes:

    Big corporations can't release the drivers without extensive testing / quality control / etc. If some bedroom developer creates a driver, and it ends up destroying peoples machines, they apologize and it isn't a big deal. If a big corporation does it, it is disaster.

    Also, big corporations also have very big bureaucracy. Doing something requires meeting with management to get permission, coordination with the marketing department, arguing about which department is going to pay for it, going for more meetings, etc. Big corporations have a way of turning a $1000 job into a $100,000 job.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Sizzurp Sippa:

    I can totally understand that, and the whole testing & quality control and such. But how is it that Daniel_K was successful with writing his own drivers for Creative cards when I'm sure that he doesn't own 20 different computers to test on? 3 of my friends are using his drivers right now and they don't have any problem at all. Sure, Creative cards are pretty much limited to PCs that run Windows … so that cuts Mac and Linux support out. So maybe that's how he was able to do it. But my point is, he had the passion to create those drivers, and he did a good job at it. Good enough to piss Creative off there for a bit. Maybe the suits are holding this stuff up, IDK … but you have to wonder why Vista has been out for almost a year and a half and both Creative & M-Audio/Digidesign have not offered stable drivers. As Niels said above in that press statement, they're having to hire more people for their driver team and find more beta testers. It worries me that they didn't do this a year back when Vista was released. A lot of my friends use M-Audio/Digidesign products in their studios and have had nasty issues with Vista so they had to uninstall it and run XP with old drivers, as they know it's more stable for them. I just think that it's disappointing that they had to release this statement. For all the money that company rakes in, you would've thought they would've been on top of things last year. Hell, Alesis has drivers out for Vista (32-bit drivers only. 64-bit drivers are not yet available) and Leopard for a little while now … and they have a small team that makes the drivers.

    It seems that a lot of people have been having issues writing drivers for the 64-bit version of Vista, and I wonder if they're trying to tackle that before the 32-bit version. Is that the cause for the holdup?

  • dead_red_eyes

    Gotta say tho, that it's great to see some honesty coming from M-Audio/Digidesign. That's really cool.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Sizzurp / dead_red_eyes: I'll be the first one to advocate open drivers (and see recent Linux drivers from RME, Native Instruments, and others). But we should be clear. First, I don't think it's that M-Audio is a "giant corporation" so much as they're having to deal with some giant corporations (think Microsoft, Apple, other vendors like NVIDIA who create drivers that interact with theirs). And while I think the Creative example is specifically a good one, it's not entirely comparable: those were hacks, not ground-up drivers as I understand it, and I would imagine they don't have the same technical needs as pro audio drivers.

    I also don't know of anyone developing 64-bit audio drivers before 32-bit on Windows.

    That said, driver development — while not easy — isn't rocket science, either; that is, I don't think anyone is saying they're some kind of magical thing.

    What I would like to see, though, is a more systematic look at what's going on with driver quality — beyond even just the audio market — and why we don't have more solid formats in place. With applications like voice and responsive music, real-time audio may soon be of interest to far more than just the pro audio market, and the scene is far more unpredictable than I think we'd like.

  • Rafael

    It's sad that they (m-audio) are being so slow in developing drivers. A company with their stature in the industry should be at the edge on driver support. I have a bunch of their equipment (I'm an amateur but take great pride in what I do and perform on occasion), an Ozonic wich I really like and just worked, really versatile and a great idea and a FW1410 hooked up at home. I was forced to get a new laptop (MBP) on january (stolen) and to my surprise there weren't even beta drivers for Leopard (mac). Given that the Leopard OS was out for almost 4 months and it was the longest beta tested Mac OS X ever, not finding even barely usable drivers was a surprise!

    I'm at a point that I'm confident in taking my "hobby/passion" up a notch and was prepared and willing to spend more on higher grade equipment at my home studio (Digi 003) and was happy with the performance of my Ozonic while on a gig (great idea to comine controller and FW audio interface). Instead of this I was left looking for equipment that replaced what didn't needed replacement, just because of the drivers. I ended up purchasing a MOTU Ultralite and a Novation Remote 37 SL and I'm really happy with both (Leopard so far has been hassle free and downgrading is out of the question, and as I said I was willing to step it up a notch in the grade of the equipment, although the Ozonic is really welt built and great)

    Too bad, I really like m-audio and actually before this didn't actually think that much about other brands, M-audio works just fine and they have really good prices and selection of gear.

    On windows i can undestand since they're a lot of hardware configurations and issues but on a Mac? with leopard being seeded to developers for more than a year before release ?

  • Rafael

    Forgot to mention:

    What baffles me is that the interfaces that lacked drivers where the Firewire interfaces that are marketed at more "serious" users? Didn't it occured to them that this prosumers needed the drivers first? Sure, these are the last users to upgrade but at least BETA drivers or ALPHA or something that works, not left completely in blank.

    I had a FW Audiophile for my home computer also, that also had to be replaced when upgraded to Leopard (February)

  • Kadmium

    All it would take for interim Vista x64 support is to sign the damn 64-bit beta drivers that are already on the damn site (and have been for about three years now). Driver signing takes minutes and costs a one-time payment of about $300, and is something they should already be doing anyway.

  • Phil

    There's no mention in the above quote of XP 64bit, whilst there are beta drivers for this platform they are now quite old (over 3 years for the stable release) and there is almost no information about them in the FAQs.

    I moved to 64bit as it means I can get better performance from my mobo/dual core cpu/mem combination and for many things it has made a noticible difference, it's just a shame that whilst my audio apps are now running smoother I can't get the noises out of the box properly.

    I don't see vista as a viable option, the minimumn hardware requirements for simply getting it to boot, login and display and window seem like a ridiculous waste of resources before I've even fired up an app.

    XP is not an end of life product yet, and I plan to run my PC hardware on it until XP hits EOL before I fully switch to OSX, and I'd love for manufacturers to keep us all in drivers until that time.

  • jordan314

    What about the mbox and protools LE?

  • monot

    Peter you didn´t say any thing about driver updates for the USB Audio Series.

    I haven´t been able to use my Fast Track Pro once since I bought it.

    Sort of hard to record anything with a one sec. latency.

    Thanks anyway for the info..

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  • dave

    DANIEL_K would make a MINT (from ME alone!) if he'd write a driver for the DMAN 1044 sound card (for XP as opposed to only WIN 98)

  • http://thebobbyexperience.blogspot.com/ CSW

    Well, switch to mac …..

    Peace,

    CSW

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @CSW: I think you weren't paying attention. There are issues on both Mac and Windows. In fact, right now, the balance of complaints are actually on the Mac/Leopard.

    Switch to Atari?

  • http://www.m-audio.com Niels Larsen

    Hi again,

    Thanks for the feedback following my post. Some good questions came up in the thread and I have tried to answer some of them here to further clarify a few points and give you some more background information.

    Sebastien Orban raised the issue of MIDI controllers and 64 bit support: all our current Keyboards and MIDI devices are USB class compliant and therefore work without any additional installation requirements (immediately “out of the box”) with new versions of OS X and Windows XP/Vista (including 64 bit versions). We embrace class compliancy wherever possible because of the straight forward installation experience and, of course, forward compatibility.

    Monot asked about the Fast Track Pro. We have release versions of both Vista and Leopard drivers for the Fast Track Pro so its possible that what you are struggling with is a simple setup issue. If you would like assistance I can have tech support contact you. Just send an email to feedback@m-audio.com

    Regarding Vista 64 a few questions where raised about making the beta drivers available. Its very likely we will do that once we are confident they are in a state to release without causing further frustration. We typically want to know what outstanding issues our customers are likely to experience and message that in release notes so users themselves can decide whether to install the beta drivers or not. With Vista 64 we are not at that point yet but hope to be soon. I should also mention that we are getting good XP64 results from this development so its possible that we will be able to give a commitment very soon to new drivers for this version also.

    Derek Pegritz and Dead_red_eyes both raised the issue of what it takes to write drivers for new OS versions. There isn’t necessarily one straight-forward answer to this but I can tell you that our struggles with Vista and Leopard have been a combination of having to rewrite firmware (you may have noticed that the firmware updates in our Firewire products for instance when the Leopard drivers install), older driver framework needing updating and frankly that we underestimated the amount of work required.

    As General Manager of M-Audio I have to take responsibility for this and make sure we don’t make the same errors of judgment going forward. I am sorry that we have frustrated our users by not getting it right but I hope to show you our commitment to support current products in the future as well as being more transparent about activities within the company.

    Best regards

    Niels

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  • Knol

    Niels, 10.5.2 drivers for Fast Track USB/Pro are non-existent. At least, they are not visible through the driver download page.

    I haven't been able to use FTP/FTusb with 10.5.2 for 3 months and can't risk downgrading solely for one piece of hardware.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Knol,

    Well, you could downgrade for the sake of the entire 10.5.2 OS release apparently being screwed up. ;) Or wait for 10.5.3, which we hope will fix those issues.

  • Brian F

    Knol – e-mail me if you need FTP support:
    viprtwo@aim.com

    I’m pretty sure i can get your FTP to work on 10.5.2, depending on your issues. No guarantees, but I can try!

    Thanks for the positive comments Niels. Hopefully we can get everything running smoothly!

  • http://www.zastras.net Luseira

    I'm another one who is having problems with the M-Audio drivers for 10.5.2 (leopard).

    If I put my macbook pro to sleep and then wake it up, the audio from the SW RTN doesn't go to the outputs anymore.

    I wrote to the Latin America support and the anwser was: "do not put the computer to sleep. Maybe another version of your Mac OS will solve the problem"

    Can you believe that?? Now I cannot alow the machine to sleep and the M-Audio support tells me that Apple's gotta solve the problem.

    What a shame.

    Im thinking seriosly in selling my FW1814.

    Luis, from brazil.

    (sorry for the bad english)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, Luis, I hate to say it but M-Audio may be right. Issues like that very commonly do occur across different hardware manufacturers, so you might sell your FW1814, get a new piece of gear, and have exactly the same problem. It might not … but if the issue was introduced when you upgraded to Leopard, then I would at least wait and see, or find someone else with gear you can test.

  • http://www.zastras.net Luseira

    Thanks for your anwser, Peter :)

    Quoting Peter Kim:

    "but if the issue was introduced when you upgraded to Leopard, then I would at least wait and see, or find someone else with gear you can test."

    Yep, that's the point: I didn't have this problem running Mac OS Tiger, nor Windows XP.

    But I'll take your advise and wait and see..

    Bye!

  • Brian F

    makes perfect sense that your computer wont default to the FW when it wakes up from sleep. Most likely they shut off power to the FW ports?

    every OS is different

  • Renniz

    My Ozonic controller has been collecting dust for 6 months. I've tried to join the beta team twice with not so much as a reply from M-Audio even after escalating the issue. They should allow anyone to download beta drivers if they agree with the license. I decided to give the controller to my father, but he is running Leopard!

  • http://www.audio-driver.net/ audio driver

    you are so kind to have answered such long questions, i will be not so patient to read them if i were you.

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