One of the handful of USB 3.0 devices currently available: the new “SuperSpeed” port on a Verbatim hard drive. Photo (CC-BY-NC-ND)

“SuperSpeed USB” or USB 3.0 offers major forward advancement for hardware ins and outs, with faster throughput (yielding up to ten-fold speed gains over USB2), improved overall performance, and lower power consumption. That should be good news for music and motion users, who make heavy use of bandwidth for audio, storage, video, and other media applications. Real-world usage, though, has been scarce. The specification is nearly four years old, but extensive experimentation using USB 3.0 in the field has been limited largely to custom PC builders and those trying bleeding-edge machines.

All of that is about to change, and fast, now that Apple has drool-worthy new laptops with USB 3.0 ports. There aren’t dedicated USB 2.0 ports on Apple’s new MacBook Air and Pro lines, period. Theoretically, that shouldn’t cause a problem with those of you with earlier USB hardware. The specification calls for complete support for USB backwards compatibility. That means literally transmitting the same USB signals over the connector; all you need is a different cable. (The reverse is true, too: USB3 devices will connect to your computers that have USB2 ports, so as vendors switch to the new standard, you won’t have to buy a new computer or interface card.) This is all covered in the USB specification. Since that’s painful to read, here’s a summary from cable maker DataPro:

As part of the requirement, all USB 3.0 ports include the necessary pins and logic to process USB 2.0 signals, and all of the receptacles are physically compatible with their earlier counterparts.

The USB Implementers Forum has since the beginning described USB 3.0 as “offering backwards compatibility with billions of USB-enabled PCs and peripheral devices used by consumers.” If the specification is to be believed, this means devices that aren’t working aren’t fully compliant with existing USB specs. (Blame is not always so simple to establish, however, since the chipset on the computer side that supports USB 3.0 is involved, as well.)

With support for USB 3.0 on the new Apples and other hardware, though, comes new chip sets. The computer isn’t the only element in the equation; you need support from third-party hardware, too, in the form of their firmware and computer drivers.

And here’s the bad news. We’re already hearing from some users and readers that not all their gear is playing nicely with USB 3.0 ports. We’re awaiting more details from more vendors, but because some especially-enthusiastic Apple fans are going out and buying new MacBooks, it’s worth sharing some of this experience. With any new-generation computer hardware, it may be best to wait long enough to review any new compatibility issues before purchasing, if you’re looking to a machine that will go into mission-critical music service in live performance or a studio. In the long run, it’s fair to expect these issues will be ironed out, since we really are talking about USB2 signals sent over a USB3 bus.

Update: Another significant difference may be power. We’ve seen issues with USB devices before involving even minor power differences. One reader wisely points out that incompatibility reports we’re seeing all seem to involve bus-powered devices. And this is an area in which the USB specification alone doesn’t provide enough certainty to rule out potential problems. Different bus-powered USB devices have different power draws, and may respond differently to power availability. If you are testing an audio gadget, this is an easy one: find a correct power adapter for your device, and try plugging it in rather than relying on USB alone. If that fixes your issue, we definitely want to hear about it.

Here are some initial reports, as we gather more information.

Yes, USB2 and USB3 Are Compatible

MOTU tells CDM:

MOTU USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interfaces are indeed compatible with USB 3.0 on the latest Macs. We don’t recommend third-party USB 3.0 adapters, however, as results are less consistent there.

We’ve heard other success stories, too, apparently owing to drivers. Now, onto some of the troubles.

Your Mileage May Vary: USB2 Issues

PC vendor Rain Computers has already been shipping devices with USB 3.0, so I was eager to hear what their experience had been, especially because they’re one of a handful of PC vendors focusing on musicians and audio production. (Incidentally, to anyone griping about the new MacBook’s lack of upgradeability – with soldered RAM and only Apple to help you if you have so much as a battery problem – Rain is one definite alternative. The tradeoff is, Apple gives you thinness and low weight while taking away upgradeability to push the envelope.)

Kevin Jacoby explains:

1. At this point every Rain computer offers at least one USB 3.0 port. The new Element V2 ( offers five USB 3.0 which is the most of any Rain. We’re also going to release a new laptop which will be the first to have eSATA 3 (damn fast).

2. We’ve had some issues with USB 2.0 audio interfaces, DJ controllers, etc when plugged into USB 3.0 ports. Symptoms include stuttering, drop-outs, distortion, etc. That said, USB 2.0 has come an incredibly long way. As long as you have good drivers (like those from RME, Steinberg, etc) performance is great.

I think the entire audio industry is waiting to see what happens with USB 3.0, Thunderbolt and eSATA 3. It will be one of those VHS vs. Beta things, no doubt. One thing is pretty obvious: FireWire is officially dead.

Well, “dead” is a strong word if you’ve got working FireWire devices plugged into a computer, of course, but moving forward, I agree.

More troubles: reader @SyntheticJuice on Twitter reports an M-Audio Axiom works without incident, but has trouble with hardware as varied as a Korg KP3 and Novation Launchpad. (Worse: in comments, we’re hearing problems with the Axiom Pro.) These may or may not relate to what’s happening on the new Apple, depending on whether the Windows PC and Mac in this case share the same chipsets, and what the culprit actually is.

At this point, you may need to turn to your PC-using friends to find out how USB 3.0 is doing. Like the rest of us, audio vendors are only now getting their hands on the new Macs. Speaking of…

Hands-on with a Retina MacBook Pro

The reader story that touched off this discussion:

I thought this news would be of interest to your readers, and maybe give you a little schadenfreude as you’re always harping on waiting to update to the newest shiny until you’ve had confirmation from the audio vendors you rely on that their stuff works on the new platform :).

So I bought one of the new Macbook Pro with Retina Display and besides one very annoying compatibility issue I am absolutely loving it. Compared to my pre-unibody Macbook Pro its replacing, this thing is blazing fast, and the screen really is as impressive as the tech press makes it out to be ( I have a 23″ LCD collecting dust because it looks worse than the 15″ screen on the laptop…never thought that would ever be the case).

Anyways, everything was gravy until I tried to setup my NI Audio 8 DJ audio interface, which connects via USB 2. Assuming that USB 3 was
fully backwards compatible with USB 2, I didn’t think there would be any issues. Besides, all my USB 2 class-compliant devices work fine
(external keyboard and mouse).

But after installing the latest driver from NI’s website, plugging in the Audio 8, and testing sound output from iTunes, I was greeted by
nasty digital noise. Poking around the internet, I find this thread on NI’s boards:

Looks like NI’s current drivers for their hardware are incompatible with USB 3 ports in Windows, and I’m guessing this issue crosses over
to the Mac as well. My guess is while the interface for class-compliant devices has been kept compatible, NI makes some low-level assumptions about the USB 2 protocol within its drivers that no longer holds up on a USB 3 port.

I’ve opened a support ticket with NI to see what’s up, but I’m sending this to you to warn any of your readers that are looking to pull the trigger on one of these to be aware that their existing USB 2 audio interfaces might be currently incompatible with the all USB 3 current line of MacBooks. If you’re dependent on your existing USB 2 audio interface working out of the box, better hold off until your vendor has confirmed their drivers to be compatible!

As we write this, we’re awaiting further word specifically from Native Instruments engineering on that case. But to be clear, this isn’t in the reports we have a problem exclusive to NI drivers. Some audio drivers are impacted; others are not.

It’s unclear whether this is simply an issue with new, untested chipsets for support with USB 3.0, or an issue with device drivers, or firmware, or a combination of the three. Issues like this can occur even without adding something new like USB 3.0 to the mix. Implementing the USB specification is a non-trivial matter.

Stay tuned as we learn more.

What About Thunderbolt?

Some are now speculating that the availability of USB3 – with high speeds and low power consumption – will mean Thunderbolt never picks off. However, our contacts at vendors making audio hardware argue otherwise. While it’s unclear what the situation will be on the PC side, the early near-standardization of Thunderbolt on Apple hardware means anyone making Thunderbolt audio gear can sell their wares to the big, impassioned, Mac-using audio community out there. (Thunderbolt is now on all but the apparently-defunct Mac Pro, the subject of an article for another time.)

Apogee, announcing plans to work with Thunderbolt in March, told CDM then through a spokesperson:

When designing an interface, Apogee has had to choose between performance (PCIe) and convenience (USB, Firewire). Thunderbolt offers an interface protocol that is better than both of those words – a transfer rate that’s higher than PCIe, a connection that’s more robust and simple than USB3, and more wattage than Firewire (for powering devices). Thunderbolt is quite simply the perfect no-compromise format for the Mac-based digital audio interface.

“Robust and simple” would be the key words there. It seems fair to assume we’ll see a mix of gear for these different formats; we’ll be watching and continuing to communicate with vendors to find out which buses they prefer. But in theory, the new Macs should support all of them – that is, once audio vendors work out some kinks with drivers.

More to Come

Consider this the first part of our coverage of USB 3.0. Whether you’re a Mac or Windows/Linux PC user, the availability of USB 3.0 on the popular Apple laptop line is sure to mean that manufacturers of audio gear are more likely to eye producing USB 3.0 devices as an option – and more likely to begin testing USB 3.0 with their existing USB product line.

If you have hands-on reports of your own, we’d love to hear them.

If you’re a manufacturer, do get in touch.

And we’ll continue sharing reports as they come in.

Updates: Official Reports

From M-Audio support:

M-Audio USB devices are not qualified for use on USB 3.0 ports at this time. If you are experiencing problems such as pops, clicks, crackles, dropouts, and distortion, or if your device is not recognized or drops offline, make sure your device is connected to a USB 2.0 (or USB 1.1) port.

Problems when connecting M-Audio devices to USB 3.0 ports

  • Eric

    C’mon, Apogee. Thunderbolt bus-powered “Quartet”!
    Just staple two Duets together and call it a day!
    (OK, that’s actually a terrible idea, but I’ll take the equivalent of 2 Duets in a single chassis in a heartbeat)

    • Elburz Sorkhabi

      I got a staple gun if you got 2 duets!

  • thehipcola

    Not only in Apple-land – but my 6 month old i7 DAW, with all of it’s inherent power has one USB 3. port which plays nice with nothing.   Perhaps backwards compatible by the specs, but in practical use with my USB devices (Axiom Pro, Maschine, Kore2) nothing works as intended, if at all.   YMMV though.

    • Peter Kirn

      Well, there’s a some chance there’s a chipset or driver model in common with your NI hardware and the NI hardware mentioned above – meaning, if we’re lucky, a fix will resolve all of them. (They’re not identical hardware platforms, but there may be some culprit there that they have in common.) That said, there’s certainly enough evidence in regards to multiple vendors that some hardware will work perfectly fine, and some won’t. 

      I think people have reason to be frustrated, though. We’re talking a USB2 signal being sent over a set of pins that should be identical to USB2 running over a USB2 port instead of USB3. So something screwy is going on somewhere as far as drivers/firmware.

    • Draridan

      Yikes. From M-Audio–

    • Draridan

      M-Audio USB devices are not qualified for use on USB 3.0 ports at this time.  If you are experiencing problems such as pops, clicks, crackles, dropouts, and distortion, or if your device is not recognized or drops offline, make sure your device is connected to a USB 2.0 (or USB 1.1) port.

    • Tomislav Simić ToS

      As helpfull as M-audio ever gets.

      My FastTrackPro did not work with either of the USB port revisions. That’s some crappy hardware there, on top of USB3 incompatible drivers.
      I hope that NI won’t take this opportunity to ditch the old-interface owners (A2DJ, A4DJ, A8DJ). Or any other vendor for that matter.

      My Presonus Firebox might be outdated but still working fine with StarTech Firewire pcmciExpress. Would love to see some working thunderbolt converter.

    • Draridan

      Well, I have the Pro and the Ultra. They’ve always worked great for me on my 2007 MacBook. I was able to aggregate (combine) the 2 soundcards, as well, which isn’t supported either by MAudio.

      But not qualifying USB 3 seems to imply a problem. I’ll hold on to my MacBook as long as possible.

    • Trashbaby

      I have a Clevo/Sager custom PC laptop with 2 USB 3 and 2 USB 2. I can’t use my Kontrol S4 on the USB 3 but works like a champ on the USB 2 ports. I updated my USB firmware and drivers, still to no avail.

    • Trashbaby

      I have a Clevo/Sager custom PC laptop with 2 USB 3 and 2 USB 2. I can’t use my Kontrol S4 on the USB 3 but works like a champ on the USB 2 ports. I updated my USB firmware and drivers, still to no avail.

  • Aaron Poehler

    How does ‘apparently defunct’ apply in any way to the Mac Pro? That’s a ridiculous thing to say.

    • Peter Kirn

      The Mac Pro lacks any of the current-generation I/O options: no Thunderbolt, no USB3, and no eSATA3. Yet you still pay a dramatic price premium even over Apple’s own iMac. 

      If my claim is “ridiculous,” tell that to Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original Mac team (who’s personally responsible for a lot of the original Mac and GUI innovations):

      Or, for that matter, tell Apple, who uncharacteristically discussed an unreleased product to say that a refresh was likely in 2013.

      I’d call that a defunct machine, absent I/O that is standard in even the Mac mini.

      It’s hard at the moment to justify a new Mac Pro purchase – at least at new prices. (Used or even open box I think might be worth considering.) But if you do own a Mac Pro already, you can use a PCI slot to at least add USB3. When more hardware becomes available, that could easily lengthen the life of a Mac tower. Sadly, of course, that also illustrates why so many of us hope the Mac Pro gets some love: more expandability means more options for people with more advanced, serious needs, and a much longer usable product life for those users.

  • Steve Conrad

    I would advise the person with the new MacBook Retina Display to look at the Thunderbolt to Expresscard/34 adapter from Sonnet:

    Then use a Sonnet Expresscard to Firewire /  USB 2.0 card.


    seek a Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock to provide USB 2.0 ports from the Thunderbolt on the new Macbook Pro.

    • Peter Kirn

      I would most definitely not give that advice.

      See the comment from MOTU. Adapter cards may introduce even more potential for failure.

      I mean, if someone has one around, you might plug it in and see what happens. But buying one would be crazy – your best bet is to wait on updated drivers, I’m afraid.

    • Elantric

      Ive been on a buying kick for refurb OSX Lion machines over the past three weeks.

      I have much $$ invested in FireWire Camcorders , MOTU interfaces, Phonic Helix FireWire Mixer, and a Dozen FireWire 800 drives.

      My crystal ball says within the next 12 months Apple will respin iMac and Mac Mini and possibly Mac Pro (if they don’t just kill it in 2013). And give us lots of Thunderbolt ports, USB 3.0 ports, Ivy Bridge CPU, but delete all FireWire ports and USB 2.0 ports. And after this summer, all new Macs will be EFI locked to run Mountain Lion OSX 10.8 only- no easy path to downgrade to Lion.

    • Elantric

      My point is- it took Roland over 6 months to get working OSX Lion Drivers and I expect a similar situation exists today with the pending release of Mountain Lion. It’s dea vu all over again, and early adopters of Mountain Lion should take up another hobby while waiting for stable USB drivers for their Audio Interfaces

    • Peter Kirn

      At this point, I only know about issues with USB3 > USB2, and only on certain products (and not on MOTU’s). We haven’t had any reports of issues running FireWire over that Thunderbolt port. I will check. You should get the same FireWire throughput over that Thunderbolt port that you did over a FireWire port, and I believe even use the extra throughput without incident for other Thunderbolt adapters.

      EFI locking? I mean, now you’re just speculating. The only vendors we’ve heard doing that have been other PC makers, not Apple.

      There’s usually enough to worry about without making up new things to worry about in advance of them actually happening.

    • Thomas Sarvan

      Its not the USB 3.0 Hardware which is incompatible with the USB 2.0 audio interfaces its simply Intels crap drivers / support where no one cares for such a niche product such as external audio interfaces. Thats all..

      Some audio interfaces work with Intels chips but its not certain why. Its most likely either these interfaces are not only relying on “isochronous transfers” or it already fits to the new Intel drivers hardware wise.

  • JonYo

    I just bought a new non-retina Macbook Pro to replace my old one, but I haven’t gotten chance to try any of my USB 2.0 audio stuff yet (just some MIDI stuff and a Propellerhead Balance). However, I’ve connected hard drives of various sorts while transferred data into it, and haven’t run into any problems there.

    • JonYo

      Note: I’m talking the new models with USB 3, FW800 and thunderbolt, and a 15″ 1680×1050 display.

  • vaikl

    Hm, not sure about this, but all above mentioned USB devices are USB-bus-powered only. There are some new bus-power specs of USB3 that could be a show-stopper for such devices, such as the new suspend-on-idle feature of the host controller or the slightly differences in Volt and mA specs.

    Some times ago I had some similar probs (like display flickering, no display at all or distortion) with Kore2 and Maschine on PC USB2 ports on external or extended internal hubs.

  • Lee Goodrich

    Great article Peter! I’m the reader that sent you the message about experiencing USB 3 woes with my Retina MacBook Pro. Still hasn’t been any traction on my support ticket to NI, but I’m hoping this additional exposure might help.

    Good to see that I’m not alone (not that I enjoy other’s misfortune) as that means, hopefully, this will get fixed within short order. Not working on any mission-critical audio work currently so I can wait it out a bit, but I’m anxious to see what this laptop can do once I’ve got everything operational.

    Glad I was able to kick off the discussion on this, and great job on digging deep here. I look forward to seeing any updates.

    • Lee Goodrich

      I got an update from NI concerning my request. Here is there response:

      “We are in the process of testing the new MacBook models with our hardware 

      products. We will update the compatibility information on our website when these 

      tests are concluded. In the moment we cannot guarantee that the USB 3.0 ports of 

      the new MacBooks are fully compatible with our hardware products.”

  • Justin

    This whole USB/Firewire/Thunderbolt thing is forefront for me right now, as I am a PC laptop musician with a Firewire audio interface (Focusrite Sapphire Pro 40) looking to upgrade my computer. I briefly stopped to consider going to “the darkside” since Mac’s switched to Thunderbolt, but don’t feel that Mac’s give you value for money, I feel they are severely overpriced. Currently in the retail sphere you cannot get a PC laptop in Australia with either Firewire or Expresscard without going to a “mobile workstation” from Dell/HP and the like (or specialists like Rain etc) – costing anywhere from $3K to $5… ridiculous (and they still have crappy F/W chipsets in them). I love my Sapphire and don’t want to upgrade it, so what to do… Now that Thunderbolt has hit PC’s with Ivy Bridge I am tempted to buy a kick ass PC laptop with Thunderbolt, max out the RAM and add a fast SSD and hope that a Thunderbolt breakout box with Firewire will work… but will this introduce any latency??? Will the drivers still work??? It’s a big question still waiting to be answered. I have been in a holding pattern for months now trying to work out what to do. It seems nothing happens in the audio interface industry unless Apple do something new… that blows chunks. Oh and I agree with the earlier comment regarding USB interfaces, all of those are bus-powered, most certainly the major issue there, perhaps a powered USB hub would resolve the issue…

    • Ilia Bis

      Look into HP Probook 4530s.  Mine was inexpensive and it’s running RME Fireface via Expresscard Firewire with zero problems.

  • Radiophobic

    If you look at the current laptop market, most new models come equipped with a couple USB3 ports. Like any new standard, these things take time to manifest, especially when a number of different factors need to be right for them to work (usb3 requires gear, ports, motherboards that are compatible). I remember 7 years ago when they were talking about how 64 bit seemed to be dead in the water because the market hadn’t embraced it immediately. Sure a couple peoples computers could run 64 bit os, but the support for applications wasn’t there. It took another 4 years before it was widely accepted. Apple didn’t support it in anything but its highest end models until last year. 

  • Radiophobic

    If you look at the current laptop market, most new models come equipped with a couple USB3 ports. Like any new standard, these things take time to manifest, especially when a number of different factors need to be right for them to work (usb3 requires gear, ports, motherboards that are compatible). I remember 7 years ago when they were talking about how 64 bit seemed to be dead in the water because the market hadn’t embraced it immediately. Sure a couple peoples computers could run 64 bit os, but the support for applications wasn’t there. It took another 4 years before it was widely accepted. Apple didn’t support it in anything but its highest end models until last year. 

  • Heyro

    Didn’t read the whole article yet, but as a tip for all NI Audio x DJ users, don’t use a USB 3.0 port for your audio interface!! it drove me crazy when I had my new Audio 2 DJ and all I’ve got was that noise. Then connected it to the only USB 2.0 port on this laptop and everything worked fine. A similar problem occured when I connected the novation launchpad. Didn’t try it with my new MOTU 828 mk2… any experiences?

    • Peter Kirn

      Problem is, there are only USB3 ports on the new Macs. 😉

  • Pigmac

    It is the streaming audio that is the problem.
    External soundcards streaming audio. It was aknown issue at least a year ago for 3.0.
    Now everyone acts like the Hardware is the problem. Apple could care less if 3.0 works for ext. soundcards.
    They want to
    sell to people based on display and speed. New and cool.
    And new hardware will come that will be 3.0 so why care. Just sell sellsellselllllllllllll!!!
    Or let us all b beta testers..And decide if sales drop.

  • gunboat_d

    i have a focusrite scarlett 8i6 and it does not like being plugged into the USB3 port on my Vaio SA; i had a couple crashes with it.  luckily i have both ports on my computer.

  • Curt

    I can confirm that the NI Rig Kontrol 3 does not work with my Macbook Pro 13″ Mid-2012.  Just get static noise when using it as an interface.

  • rich

    This is a really shaky time for audio interface support.  The thunderbolt -> firewire dongle is easy to get, but if the Duet (RME Fireface 400, etc etc) aren’t supported in the future, then…  Keep us updated.

  • rgb

    I  know that this may be a dumb question, but what are the results if one plugs a USB hub into the USB 3 port and connect the interface to the hub? 

    • Chuckrock

      that was my first thought, too. it won’t work… it’s still going through the usb 3.0 port and causes errors

  • Chuckrock

    I have the same USB 3.0 Problem. Brand new Laptop with 4xUSB 3.0. Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ can make Bluescreens but no Sound… NI Support said that this is a common problem and that i have to use an USB 2 Port or an e-sata port… they’re so funny…

  • Curt


    OK, after much troubleshooting, I determined that the issue related to my Kontrol Rig 3 was 10.7.4 and not the USB 3.0 hardware. 

    I determined this by restoring my 2012 MBP to 10.7.3. After the downgrade the KR3 worked perfectly (it appears).

    So DO NOT INSTALL 10.7.4 or the Macbook mid-2012 Update (it also installs 10.7.4) if you want to use Kontrol Rig 3.


  • DaveC

    I’ve read that some people got things working (better) with some external hardware by directly powering said hardware…

    Also there was this update:

    About MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0
    This update is recommended for MacBook Pro (mid 2012) models.
    The update includes fixes that improve graphics stability, external display support, and USB 3 device support.Does it fix anything?

  • David Whalen

    Brand new Late 2012 13″ MBP and NI Audio Kontrol 1. Does not work, newest drivers installed, loud ass distortion sound. Tested two identical interfaces.

  • zac

    I figured out that you can use a micro usb cord to plug into your incompatible 3.0 hard drive and my retina mac recognizes it! it fits in the longer half of the 3.0 spot on the hard drive (like seen in the picture)

  • Elk

    New MBP retina display, and running serrato Itch with A&H Xone DX > unsuccessful… Sadly.

  • Van

    Here’s another one: my Reloop Jockey 3 is not compatible to the USB 3.0 ports on my mid. 2012 Macbook pro. I can only get it to work when I connect it to a USB 2.0-Hub (D-Link 7-port)

    • Melissa Gettings

      Hi i am having the same problem and wonder if you could explain what u did? is it a D-Link 7-port i need then!?

  • JB

    I had problems with a 3G modem not playing nice with the new USB ports. After a lot of trial and error, I found a workaround, which might work for other devices not compatible with the new ports.

    Be warned, this requires some aptitude with the terminal, and this method will also remove USB 3 support, effectively degrading your ports back to USB 2 (which might or might not be a problem for you).

    USB 3 support is provided by a kernel extension called AppleUSBXHCI.kext, which can be found inside /System/Library/Extensions/IOUSBFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/. Move its folder to the Documents directory or some other safe place. Afterwards, “touch” the Extensions folder to force the OS to rebuild the extension cache. Reboot. I don’t want to provide exact terminal commands, as only people who know what they are doing should fiddle around with kernel extensions.

    After this procedure, System Information will no longer show USB 3 High Speed and Super Speed controllers, and connected devices will appear under USB 2 hosts. This may or may not solve your problem, but is worth a shot (if it doesn’t, just move back the kext and proceed with the rest of the instructions again).

  • Supalootr

    My new asus zenbook with 3.0 ports gets bluescreen when im opening traktor with my s4 plugged in =/ so frustrating…

  • Kevin

    I got the new MBP with Retina display.  I don’t have any sound issues with any combination of audio through a Hercules RMX or M-Audio Conectiv with Virtual DJ Pro or Resolume 3.  But as soon as I plug in the Thunderbolt/VGA Adaptor (to projector, vga monitor or vga/RCA converter) and the video engages through this second display, that’s when I get multiple noise frequencies (high pitched buzzing) in my audio.  It’s the worst through the RMX and seems to be tied to the light up buttons.  Since I DVJ I need both audio and video to work together without the buzzing.  I’m thinking of selling the Retina MBP and buying a refurb unit from 2011.  What a horrible solution for a pro line of products.

    • Rory

      Hey man i have the same problem with the VGA?TBOLT adapter, audio crunch… did you ever find a solution?


  • pdub

    Peter K,
    You mention in your article you’ve “heard other success stories…”, but the MOTU product is the only one you allude to that works with usb 3.0. Also, the talkback overflowing with many un-success stories.

    With your information, would you be willing to compile a list of known good (or purported to be) hardware configurations and known bad?

    I’m interested in getting (first time buyer) a usb audio interface, but don’t feel I need the bandwidth usb 3.0 would eventually offer. I just want it to work. But, usb 3.0 is what I have right now. Also, the MOTU offerings are a bit too pricey for me and I would be very interested to know what else DOES work.


  • Noods

    Just brought a new pc laptop which only has USB 3 and a Motu Ultalite MK3. Have not been able to get it working consistantly, am pretty sure it is down to the USB 3 issue. Motu tech suggested to me toget a USB 2 hub through to the usb 3 but I agree it’s still going to have to pass the USB 3. Looks lke I have to wait for the firmware to be updated. What a pain wish there was some mention of this potential issue before purhasing!!!

  • jfm

    If your equipment doesn’t work with a 3.0 port, try using a USB 2.0 hub plugged into your 3.0 port.  Fixed my M-audio Fast Track Pro problems instantly

  • nigel burrows

    Hi, have just read your report on usb 3s and ni drivers s4 comes to mind.
    I can tell you that having just bought a very expensive samsung i5 with usb 3s and 2s that the traktor s4 deffinately will not work on it, bosd screens are the result.
    Having contacted ni support i was told to uninstall the usb3 driver, on the samsung, when you do this it also deactivates the usb2s. Be AWARE OF THIS ,i was not ,i now have to spend more money on a computer that does not have usb3s. so far as i am aware, NI may be aware of this, but they sure are keeping quiet about it. I wish i could be happy with VDJ. lol.

  • Antonio

    I had problems with an MBox 2 Mini – Mac Book Pro mid 2012 configuration and solved it with feedserotonin’s post here I worked for me since I did it.

  • el c.

    I wonder if this update for MacBook Air & Pro’s from a couple days ago that “improves compatibility with some USB devices” and “is recommended for all Mac notebooks introduced in June 2012” running 10.8.2 helps with this at all?

  • RyanM

    I have a retina MBPro running pro tools-been having problems with MOTU Electric keys & Toontrack stuff-When I play them as instrument tracks (even in low track count/low plug in quantity sessions) during playback or record I get spotty performance-stutterring,note cut offs, glitching, note holds, loss of midi input. Not sure of the problem’s source yet, def not RAM or processor I have 16G RAM + 2.6Ghz i7 Could be FireWire-Thunderbolt issues, SSD drive issues, drivers, USB3 (ilock) Pro Tools software issues, MOTU or Toon Track issues…who knows

  • Thrill Science ®

    I had a Tascam US-600 that my new MacPro 15″ Retina wouldn’t see. The system profiler didn’t show any device connected, etc.

    I plugged a USB 2.0 hub into the Mac, as someone suggested, and it worked!

    So this technique can help in some circumstances.

  • hpnrx

    NI has just released a bunch of beta drivers (v3.10) for windos / USB 3. Just have a look here: and make sure that your firmware is up to date before trying the new driver.

  • justin bristol

    USB 3.0 cables have more contacts and components; the host (A) and the device (B) sockets have been deigned with the ability to accept USB 2.0 connections. At first site of the USB 3.0 version you most likely will think to yourself; “how can this fit”? but it does, thus allowing new USB 3.0 devices to accept USB 2.0 legacy cables.

    more information on USB 3.0 can be found below:


  • Guest

    USB 3.0 cables have more contacts and components; the host (A) and the device (B) sockets have been deigned with the ability to accept USB 2.0 connections. At first site of the USB 3.0 version you most likely will think to yourself; “how can this fit”? but it does, thus allowing new USB 3.0 devices to accept USB 2.0 legacy cables.

    more information on USB 3.0 can be found below:


  • SKDJ

    I recently purchased an Elitebook 8540p (i7) 2nd hand. It has two 3.0 ports and three 2.0 ports. Considering my setup I chose this laptop because I play DJ sets with Serato. With 2 CD’s 900nxs connected to the 2.0 ports, Rane hardware only works on the 2.0 port and my A&H Xone K2 connected to the 3.0 for midi everything works fine. But I had to trail and error to find this setup and I don’t feel ‘safe’. I still want to try what happens if I use an external powered 2.0 hub on the 3.0 port.
    Thing is;
    – if I connect my Hercules midi/soundcard to the 3.0 port it will fail giving me many dropouts.
    – if I connect my Hercules midi/soundcard to the 2.0 port it plays fine and steady.
    – connecting my A&H DB2 as an audio interface to the 3.0 port it will fail immediately.
    – connecting my A&H DB2 as an audio interface to the 2.0 port it will play for a while and then freeze the mixer (not even the driver)
    – As said: the Rane SL2 can not handle the 3.0 port, the 2.0 port plays fine even with everything connected at the same time.
    It seems A&H can’t handle dropouts so instead it just fails completely.