Apple’s newest Macs include improved built-in audio devices

“Late last month, Apple finally shipped updates to two of the most neglected Macs, the Mac Mini and MacBook Air. While the prices have unfortunately crept up, these are solid updates worthy of consideration by anyone looking for a new desktop or laptop,” Paul Kafasis reports for Rogue Amoeba. “Better still, they include a nice little surprise when it comes to audio: two distinct audio output devices!”

“On older Macs, the headphone jack and the internal speakers are essentially separate ports on a single output device, and only one of these ports is allowed to be active at a time,” Kafasis reports. “With these new Macs, there are actually two distinct output devices. The headphone jack and the internal speakers are separate devices, completely independent from one another.”

“Perhaps the most obvious way to take advantage of these two devices is to send the Mac’s sound effects to the built-in speakers, while using the headphone jack for music and other audio. This way, you’ll never be jarred out of a good listening session by an error message beep blaring over your music,” Kafasis reports. “To split things up, head for the ‘Sound Effects’ tab in the Sound System Preference. There, you can configure the ‘Play sound effects through’ setting to use the the device speakers set the Sound Effects.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hallelujah!

Paul also notes that “if nothing is plugged in to the headphone jack, the OS will hide that output away. This is mostly just good housekeeping, as it prevents you from sending audio to what is effectively a muted device. As soon as a pair of headphones or speakers are plugged in to the new Macs, that second device will appear, ready for use.”


  1. Improved???

    No, just more complicated. Now that Apple refuses to provide separate audio input and output on its devices, the user has no choice but to add a dongle or dock to implement them simultaneously. Abandoned are built in high end connections like Toslink as well. And forget about improvements in Apple’s built-in audio management. To handle anything more complicated than one input and one output, a user absolutely has to rely on 3rd party software to manage it effectively. Heaven help you if you have someone walk into the room with a laggy consumer grade junk bluetooth speaker — Apple thinks that’s the future when in reality many high end users want wired uncompressed high fidelity audio connections. The best way to avoid crappy wireless audio I/O annoyances is to turn bluetooth permanently off. It would be great if Airplay was ready for prime time but no, it isn’t. Moreover Apple cannot guarantee a solid wifi experience, it doesn’t make Airport units anymore. Apple is a complete laggard in wireless connectivity even while it has a designer doing his darndest to remove all ports from all devices.

    The new Apple wants you to pay more to a 3rd party to get a kludged design to what Apple used to offer in its computers. Thanks for nothing Timmy.

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