If you really must stare at a beachball, might I humbly suggest it look more like this? Photo (CC-BY) hadleygrass.

Slow down, Mountain Lion early adopters.

Okay, remember how a few weeks ago we made note that a number of audio interfaces weren’t working with USB3 ports on new Apple laptops?

And remember how last week, Native Instruments released a statement about USB 3 issues?

Funny story. It seems that it’s not just new Apple laptops with new USB3 ports suffering from sound problems. Now, Apple’s just-released OS update, 10.8 Mountain Lion, is prompting reports of audio interface problems. As with the new USB3 laptops and OS 10.7, your mileage may vary – some interfaces work, and some don’t. (This isn’t just an NI problem; some other brands have issues, too. And something is going on with Windows drivers, too: PC vendors reported similar issues with USB2 devices connected to USB3 ports that were resolved by connecting to USB2 ports.)

Here’s the latest official statement, updated minutes ago, from Native Instruments support:

Native Instruments has conducted compatibility tests with its hardware products under OS X 10.8, connected to USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports of both recent and current-generation Mac computers. Some NI products are experiencing a degraded audio signal caused by USB driver issues present in Mac OS X 10.8. The same issues are also present under Mac OS X 10.7.4 on current-generation Macbooks with USB 3.0.


Note the mention of “10.8” and “USB 2.0” as well as “USB 3.0” – this could be an issue for those of you with older laptops, too.

It’s hard to place blame. Issues are now confirmed with Apple’s own software. But the reality of this cluster of problems may simply be that implementing USB 3.0 is a complicated task. In fact, if I were to blame anyone, the overly-optimistic claims of seamless backwards compatibility from the backers of USB 3.0 would be worthy of some criticism. You can add this latest episode to a long pile of issues with USB and sound over the years. (So, how about that Thunderbolt?) But, again, it’s a complex issue, mutter, mutter, blah, blah – at least it appears that we could see things fixed.

Yes, some good news – there’s a fix you can beta-test right now, and early reports we’ve heard are actually quite positive (as in, this appears to be a working solution):

Native Instruments is currently in contact with Apple in order to find a solution. To address the issues in the meantime, Native Instruments is providing a set of beta drivers that circumvent the problem.

You can grab the drivers, and presumably be happy with a new MacBook and/or a new OS release. Of course, if you haven’t gone out and gotten those two things, I really do recommend you wait. For instance, I hear for the Northern Hemisphere, the beach is a beautiful place to visit, with a large body of water in which you can swim and sun and sand and things.

No? Okay.

Since NI isn’t the only vendor impacted, keep an eye out for compatibility reports and possible driver updates from other makers, too. But thanks to NI for providing us some speedy information and software.

  • Elantric

    On a related note:

    Here is a Press Statement from Roland regarding OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion


    drivers for OS X Mountain Lion (10.8 ) are different than the drivers
    for Mac OS X 10.7 or earlier. You must use the dedicated driver for each
    OS version.”

    Good News is Roland states they will have
    OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion USB Drivers for VG-99, GR-55, Micro BR BR-80.

    * However at this hour the new Roland USB Drivers have not been released to the public.
    This is why the official Roland Press release below (at 7:00AM pacific time July 25, 2012) has nothing but dead links


    * The URL links to the new OSX 10.8 driver for each Roland product will become active AFTER Roland releases the OSX 10.8 USB Drivers

    I expect this to take several days, weeks or months.

    example, it took about 3 months for Roland to finally release the
    official VG-99 USB driver for OSX 10.7 Lion, long after they made a
    similar press statement.

    • http://twitter.com/Dark_Blu1 Daemon Blak

      It’s happened with my TASCAM US-1800 that worked fine under 10.7.4. Upgraded earlier today, came home, plugged in, and while the USB indicator light is on showing a connection, Mountain Lion doesn’t see the interface at all in audio properties. I tried my Fastrack USB and it does see that and allow that to function, but Cubase doesn’t see the Fastrack (It was use on my PC with Pro Tools). So far, haven’t heard anyone else with this problem, but really, I expected more from Apple. It’s supposed to just work, and I can’t downgrade to Snow Leapard without doing a clean install and losing everything. SO PISSED!!!!!

    • Se7en Synz

      Same here…I just purchased the macbook pro 15″, along with the Tascam us 1800 with the intention of recording my Band. Only to find out that the OSX and the Tascam don’t exactly work due to an ongoing driver issue?

      I was looking forward to working on the Macbook as Im a first time user…

  • matt

    I don’t know what’s going on with Native Instruments. 

    I really love their products and they are probably one of the best audio-software producers in the world – but…
    everytime a new Mac OS System comes along (don’t know about Windows) there are troubles with their products…The first Mountain Lion beta was published in early 2012. Every other software developer already has a full working version of their products…

    I don’t get it…  why do they wait for final release of ML?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Matt, my impression is that there is an issue with Apple driver support for USB rolled out on USB3 laptops (which were most certainly not available in early 2012) and introduced in Mountain Lion.

      Native Instruments has a beta driver shipping the *same day as Mountain Lion* is shipping. That’s reasonable to me. 

      I’m sorry, you can fault NI for all kinds of things if you like, but I can’t possibly conceive a way to fault them on this one. Having *some* version of an OS at the beginning of this year is a long way from having a frozen version of an OS against which you can test mysterious audio issues.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Key language: “USB driver issues present in Mac OS X 10.8.”

      Look, the OS is really not supposed to break the interfaces. Of course, we know that sometimes it does. So you rely in part on the OS vendor (that’s Apple in this case) to be involved with the fix.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1203750021 David Whalen

    I want to say thank you to Create Digital Music, for keeping me in the loop on these issues. It’s been a rough road with my Audio Kontrol 1 and my Mid-2012 MacBook Pro. I hope these beta drivers will allow me to use my interface! I’m about to upgrade to Mountain Lion, so we’ll see how this goes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maurice.rickard Maurice Rickard

      David, have you had any experience with using the NI AK1 as an input?  WIth the new beta, I’m getting audible digital distortion on input over USB, about half a second every 2:40.  That’s better than the old driver under 10.7, though–that was worse distortion every 3 minutes, but lasting for several seconds. 

  • Pal

    What about Firewire interfaces bro?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      This issue is definitely USB-specific.

      Generally, don’t assume FireWire interface compatibility on a new OS until you hear so from your vendor. But we haven’t heard any issues yet.

  • Chris

    I love how everyone always says “Mac ALWAYS works!”

    I’ve had more problems trying to get Macs to play nice, with recording programs and audio interfaces, than anything on Windows 7…. probably a 95% problem-solving ratio to a 5% with Windows 7.

    I hate Mac.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonny.wilde Jonny ‘jaydub’ Wilde

    That’s annoying, no Beta drivers for the Komplete Audio 6 which I’m having degradation issues with on my Air :-(

  • corey949

    Alas, add focusrite saffire 6 usb interface to the list of new-driver-needed for Mountain Lion. I guess I consumed too much Apple kool-aid, since this time, I didn’t even bother to check compatibility before I joined the herd and stampeded to upgrade to Mt.Lion.  When I plugged in my brand new, just unboxed AKG perception 220 to the saffire, opened my DAW, I discovered that my input preference had defaulted back to the built-in mic. When I switched to the saffire, the whole system crashed immediately. A very rare occurance on my iMac.  When I rebooted, everything looked OK and I was getting signal from the AKG. But when I hit record, I got nothing but horrible distortion in my ears. Just to be sure, I switched to an old berenger mic and had the identical distortion.  The Focusrite site says that they’re working on it.  Some of their products seem to do OK with OS 10.8, others clearly do not.  THe same thing happened when Apple went to Lion. I was using an M-audio firewire back then and had to wait for new drivers.  Don’t the manufacturers of audio interfaces and Apple developers talk to each other?  Having been through this twice, I promise to be patient next time and check that my hardware can be updatred BEFORE I upgrade to another OS.  What comes after Mountain Lion, Loch Ness Monster?

    • Andrew White

      have you been able to find an update? i have the same exact problem as you. same interface, same issue.

    • http://www.facebook.com/corey.fischer.36 Corey Fischer

      Yes. Focusrite came out with update drivers for Mt. Lion about 2 weeks after that last post of mine. Go to their support/download page, select the saffire 6 from drop down menu and download latest drivers. Good luck!

  • http://twitter.com/MXWest Michael West

    M-Audio Fast Track Ultra totally dodgy on 10.8 here; formerly rock solid. Disappointed.

  • mlentwojt

    Hi, I am still having latency drifting issues under mountain lion. Just starting an application, let`s say riffworks from sonoma wireworks, let pass 15 minutes and there is latency about 200 ms (yes two hundred). Issues with Line6, Mindprint, Native Instruments etc…
    Same problem with Garage Band, which is quite ununsable in 10.8 when recording a real guitar.

  • mlentwojt

    forgot to say that I am using the beta drivers.