Native Instruments, whose hardware was some of the first to prompt reader compatibility reports, now has issued a statement. I had hoped for more background on what’s actually going on – we’ll keep pressing vendors to tell us more – but the short-term advice on the MacBook Pro and Air and their USB3-only ports is clear. You’re going to want to wait until hardware you use is confirmed to work, and it seems that at least this vendor is communicating with Apple directly. (Those fixes will hopefully benefit the handful of readers we have suffering from USB3 woes on Windows, though the PCs more often have a dedicated USB2 port, not just USB3.)

Clarification: I’ve written about this before, but some readers are perhaps not hearing it. Reported compatibility issues impact hardware from multiple vendors, not just NI. It’s unclear why some drivers and devices are having issues when others are not. Until there’s a causal explanation, though, it’s difficult to point at any vendor – NI or Apple included – and place blame. I would like to see someone release more technical details on the cause, however, as I think that leaves users in a position of uncertainty, particularly when USB’s backers originally claimed USB3 would be backwards compatible.

Excerpt from today’s announcement, on Friday the 20th:

Native Instruments has conducted compatibility tests with its hardware products connected to USB 3.0 ports of current-generation MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. Some NI products are experiencing a degraded audio signal caused by USB 3.0 audio driver issues present in recent versions of OS X.

The following products have shown to be affected:

AUDIO 2 DJ / AUDIO 4 DJ / AUDIO 8 DJ
AUDIO KONTROL 1
GUITAR RIG MOBILE
GUITAR RIG SESSION
KORE 1
RIG KONTROL 2 / RIG KONTROL 3
TRAKTOR AUDIO 2
TRAKTOR KONTROL S4

The following products have shown to be fully compatible:

KOMPLETE AUDIO 6
MASCHINE / MASCHINE MIKRO
TRAKTOR AUDIO 6 / TRAKTOR AUDIO 10
TRAKTOR KONTROL S2

NI hardware products without audio interface functionality (KORE 2, TRAKTOR KONTROL F1, TRAKTOR KONTROL X1) have also shown to be fully compatible with the current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro generation.

Native Instruments is currently in contact with Apple in order to find a solution.

http://www.native-instruments.com/en/support/online-help/compatibility/mac-os-x-compatibility/

(Emphasis mine.)

The good news is, some hardware is perfectly compatible – something we’ve heard from some other vendors (including MOTU). The bad news is, everyone else will have to wait – and notice the mention of “drivers.”

Previously (and worth looking through comments):
USB 3.0: Backwards Compatible in Theory, But Some Audio Drivers Aren’t Cooperating

  • abcnate

    Can you show the link to the NI press release?

  • Momo
    • Jmarsh

      Thanks Momo, saved my ass, worked perfectly and within moments with my AUDIO 2 NI DJ interface….. Got a gig tonight and was considering running audio out of my headphone jack lol, I’m guessing this solution will come to help many 

    • abcnate

      hate to mess with USB drivers even though you can roll back….hope NI comes up with a real fix pronto…anyone seen the full NI press release? i cannot find it anywhere

    • Momo

      i’m not a big fan of this solution either
      but it saved my ass too,
      and so far it seems the only way, i really hope to see
      it fixed asap.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yipes – set everything to USB2 speeds, eh? ;) Tells you a bit about what’s going wrong, though. I can see why NI wouldn’t make that an official fix.

  • http://twitter.com/salatspinatra salatspinatra

    Wait indeed. Hold yourself over with something inexpensive (I picked ECHO because they sound great and my firewire felt lonely). But I’m thinking even USB 3 will blow over when manufacturers go straight to thunderbolt. (Or watch another port get looked over for the next decade)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      The topic here is connecting USB2 devices to USB3. As for USB3-native devices, nothing yet in audio, specifically, though you might take advantage of fast hard drives, etc., and use Thunderbolt for audio. We’ll see how things track.

  • Lavunica

    I bought that NI KORE controller. And they stopped KORE. I hate those NI bastards from my soul!

    • http://twitter.com/deusPaul Deus Paul

      Yeah!!! No need for maschine if you had a pad controller and kore… I still dont understand what the purpose of maschine is :S it sucks when compared to kore, it sucks when compared to a triggerfinger or something similar and it also sucks as a standalone VST (its kind of like a very awful and limited DAW)

  • Lavunica

    I bought NI Pro-53 and used it a lot. They stopped Pro-53 without even telling me before I bought the upgrade to no-PRO-53-land!!! I hate them so much!

  • Lavunica

    I bought NI B3 which became my software organ. They stopped B3 without even telling me before I bought the upgrade to no-B3-land!!! You should not buy stuff from people like this.

  • Ss

    FW

  • DiGiTaLFX

    Is this fixed with the MacBook Air 1.0 update that was just released?

  • N/A

    NI as a company is a joke.  I’ve found easily reproducible bugs and short comings so many times with lots of their software, they literally sleep on it. Months and sometimes even years later and they still sit there in todays software.

    Even major upgrades stepping up to the next ‘version’ number the bugs are still present.

    The LAST piece of NI software I use is Traktor, and the only reason is because it’s the only program that’s doing DJ based stuff right feature wise.

    The programmers and managers at that company need a huge wakeup call…

  • j-

    I’m wondering:
    - When will Apple finally release the Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter?
    - Does the Apogee One work with the new Macbook Air? They are supposed to work closely with Apple..

    • abcnate

      I can say that the Apogee One does work with the new MBP retina. I just tested it last night.

    • J-

      That gives me hope it will work with the MBA. Thanks for your reply.

  • Curt

    The issue here is Apple not NI.  The NI stuff works perfectly with 10.7.3 on the new Macbook Pro hardware.  Apple just released a USB update but it did not fix this problem.

    • ArmandoC

      MIght want to go back and re-read the press release. 

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      The issue is hardware compatibility with products from multiple vendors, not just NI.

  • http://www.facebook.com/estrombone Elburz Sorkhabi

    Any news from folks testing on Windows? 

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      So far, similar issues with Windows users – and not just with NI gear. Seems USB3 support just isn’t quite working yet, generally. The advantage on Windows is, most of those machines also have dedicated (traditional) USB2 ports, so you just use a different plug if you encounter problems.

    • http://www.facebook.com/estrombone Elburz Sorkhabi

      Very glad the machine I ordered has that USB2 port on it. I’ve read somewhere you can rollback the USB3 drivers on Mac so they function as USB2 ports, haven’t looked into it on Windows.

  • vaikl

    Seems like nearly all *older* NI hardware is affected. This could be a hint that Apple has included more mysterious secrets in their Lion and MountainLion framework updates than being known to be safe for manufacturers *or* that USB3 bus-power spec’s weren’t implemented well by Apple.

  • Mister36

    Anyone know a way to install USB 2.0 drivers for 3.0 ports on Windows 7 (x64)? I’ve tried several to no avail.

    • musicoja

      You basically have to delete the USB 3.0 device in the device manager and the ports should act like USB 2.0 ports – at least on my notebook this works… good luck!

  • http://ccombe.tumblr.com/ Chris Combe

    hmm I have issues with my S4 and Maschine (first Gen), they both restart my laptop as soon as they are plugged in, in suggestions appreciated. I have raised a ticket with NI and running latest OSX (1.8.4) as it came with the mac book air 13″