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mufngruf 11-26-2010 07:37 AM

do ALL intel imacs have fuzzy audio out?
It's making me NUTS...
When I first upgraded from a power PC to the 20" imac intel.. I loved everything about it EXCEPT..
I run iTunes all day long.. with a line directly from the headphone jack to my "tape" inputs on the amp. And the sound is "Fuzzy" - like it was distorted.
Over time, I tried everything. The imac itself produced lovely clear sound.. but anything plugged into the HP jack got fuzzy sound - including headphones.
I kinda got used to it over time, and then I got an emac to use basically as a jukebox, sharing my library. Plugged the line into the emac headphone jack and got nice clear sound.
I figured I must have a bad audio card or something. I KNOW I didn't blow it out - I don't listen that loud and I usually have the line out at half volume.
It was a clumsy workaround but it worked and I knew that I would be upgrading the imac soon - which I did, about two months ago.
Convinced that my emac-juke days were over, I packed it away in the attic and prepared to bask in the beautiful sound from this gleaming new 24" monster on my desk... and, of course, I'm getting the same fuzzy sound.

Now, I find myself in the position of changing 'puters again.. and I'm wondering if
a - am I the only person on the planet with this fuzzy imac intel audio isssue?
b - Is it true of ALL intel imacs?
c - Is it a hardware or a software issue?
d - Is there a fix for it?

I should add that I have done several searches about this issue and found others who have different audio problems with the imac (Loss of channel or background hum) - and I don't have ANY of these, so I suppose I should count myself fortunate, but this a real pain in the audio.
I don't really NEED to have an intel machine - except simply to have the latest OS benefits, and I'm sorely tempted to get a G5 Power PC with all it's various audio ins and outs -
waddya think?

chas_m 11-26-2010 07:42 AM

G5 = terrible idea. The entire line was plagued with issues.

The sound out of my Macs is fine, so I'm not really sure what's going on with yours -- but why not try the optical capability and see if that doesn't fix the issue?

mufngruf 11-26-2010 08:01 AM

Well the sound out of my G3 and my Emac and my old Quicksilver works just fine direct from the headphone jack.. it just seems to be the intel imacs. I've now had two on my desk and they both have the same issues. Your mac specs suggest that you're not running an intel machine, which may well explain why your sound is just fine.
In order to run the optical solution I have to buy ANOTHER adapter, and then I am not able to split the audio into a second monitor.
My question really was to determine whether this was a model-wide issue?

BTW - what were the issues with the G5? They seem to get decent enough reviews.

bobtomay 11-26-2010 08:13 AM

Unless he's changed his Mac specs in the last 15 minutes, it doesn't remotely suggest he's not running an intel machine. Every Mac since mid '06 has been intel.

I also have not experienced the issue you are talking about with the 2 intel Macs I have here. You say you have also googled your problem and not found anything similar to your issue. Sorry, but I have to ask, if it was something inherent with all intel machines, do you really think that there would be such a dearth of such info and a lack of reporting such an issue with every review by every major review site? they sure don't seem to have problems reporting every other issue.

Most of the time I have run into what I would call "fuzzy" sound, it has been the input/output jack, the cable, or an old receiver who's volume control has gotten dusty/dirty over the years. The first thing I'd try would be different inputs on the amp.

Ahhh, ANOTHER adapter... such is life in the fast moving pace of the electronics world. Wish we could be stuck in the '50s to '70s, but alas, we're not.

mufngruf 11-26-2010 08:38 AM

My apologies to the poster and the forum - I didn't realise that intel as the ONLY option had been around that long... and I just assumed that a 2007 machine probably wasn't an intel. Ya live and learn.

Your question makes much sense but, in reverse, if the same setup works just fine with all the other macs (and even my son's PC) in this house, then it's highly unlikely that it's an issue with the cable, or the amp.... although I HAVE tried the other input option on the amp.. and, as I said, the same thing happens when I plug my phones directly into the macjack..
Since, although I haven't - in a cursory search - discovered anyone else with exactly the same problems as myself, I have certainly found many posts concerning other audio issues with these machines (drop outs, channels missing, no audio on certain apps and other squirrely annoyances, I don't find it THAT big a stretch to suggest that there MAY be an inherent issue with the actual audio hardware in the imac intels... and you note yourself that you have frequently found the input/output jack to be an issue in producing fuzzy sound.
And, y'know, I was just asking for help - did you intend for your final sentence to sound so condescending?
(not that I would find much wrong with being stuck in the past, but I'm not.)
As I pointed out, the issue with an adapter is that I then lose the option to use a second monitor with sound and - if there IS a hardware issue in the output jack, the adapter will just be a waste of money since the ones suggested all use a similar physical jack to access the sound card.
hence my dilemma.

bobtomay 11-26-2010 09:12 AM

It is a stretch to suggest there is an inherent hardware issue producing "your" problem when you can't find any thing about it on the web when the total of intel Macs is hitting approximately 40 million at this time.

Just because you can find cases of individual electronic hardware dying or not working properly, does not indicate an inherent flaw. Except for the inherent flaw that is in all things man made. It's going to fail at some point in time. Some sooner than others. You start seeing 5-10%, or 2-4 million out of those 40 million units with the "identical" issue, now we're talking about something the engineers need to start looking at and we're talking about the inherent flaw theory.

Am not suggesting that there may not be something wrong with "your" Mac. If, the inputs on the amp work fine from other sources and using the same cable, then I would be looking the same place you are, at the Mac. The first thing I'd try would be to clean the headphone jack - power off and disconnected, battery removed if possible - take a can of air and try that - I might even try a q-tip dampened with alcohol on it if it were mine - making sure not to turn it back on until it dries thoroughly. Next step is going to be to call Apple, set up an appointment and take it in for them to have a look at it.

Nope, not meaning to sound condescending. Anyone that's been or begins purchasing electronics is going to end up with a drawer of extra cables. I have at least 4 or 5 such drawers that are full of cables collected over the last 40 years or so. With the cost of audio cables and adapters today, I just don't feel a lot of sympathy related to someone having an issue spending $2 or even $20 to attempt solving a problem. Well, maybe a little condescending after all, I admit.

I'm quite willing to work through the things you can try at home before taking it to Apple.

I am assuming here that you are using analog cabling at this point, because I can't see that digital could have the issue you'r describing.

Spending < $4 - one example - just to see if it may solve your issue by simply switching to digital instead of analog, isn't too much to ask imho. "Assuming" that is, that your amp has digital inputs. And beyond that if it works, a toslink splitter at $6

mufngruf 11-26-2010 09:51 AM

I think we're talking around the same tree here.. but, in the interests of actually accumulating some helpful data here are some more facts...
I have the same several drawers and boxes of cables, everything from my old Tandy model 100, through the original apple products and up to this day... I have - as my wife will attest - no compunction about buying yet another cable... it ain't about the money so please stop suggesting that I'm just too cheap to try other methods.
I tried the compressed air thingy... thought better of the damp q-tip and my nearest apple store is several light years away from my precarious position perched on the edge of the Pennine chain in Northern England. See, I never should have left North Richland Hills....
I'm honestly not opposed to trying your suggestions re optical cables... I got excited for a minute when I say the link for the splitter, but it apparently then requires my second monitor to also have an optical input and, of course, it doesn't.
It just seems silly that a system that works perfectly well with an emac (or, for that matter, my iPhone) needs to have such a dog and pony show to do the same job on this hitek gleaming beast which cost a whole elephantful o' money more than all my other gear in total....
And, just so's you know, I'm not looking for sympathy either... just asking a question.
It appears that the answer is, "nope, haven't heard of this issue - I don't have it on MY imacs.." and then I know that, before I get my next supermac, I'll take my headphones with me and plug 'em in at the store...
but if I have the same issue then I, as a rational adult pragmatic person of some six decades would have to deduce that there IS an inherent hardware problem with this machine and, despite me being the only person on the **** planet to have noticed it, it IS a real problem.
I'm just curious, are you saying that you have duplicated my efforts with your own imacs and found them just fine... or are you, in fact, simply saying that you've never noticed such behaviour through the headphone jack... and could that be because you don't actually use the analogue jack?
I'm just asking cos it SOUNDS like you're pretty much of a digital audio devotee... and so may never have actually plugged the analogue output into your stereo.
Meanwhile, I DO appreciate your efforts to assist me in this apparent audio hallucination and the time that you have taken to set me on the right track.. it just doesn't seem that the track you suggest answers the problems as I have laid them out.
Ah well, c'est la vie, y'all.

bobtomay 11-26-2010 10:25 AM

You would be correct in assuming I primarily use digital nowadays - want the 5.1 out when it's available. But, I have used both of my current machines connected via analog and of course do use headphones with them from time to time. Have not noticed any fuzziness on these two machines.

50voltphantom 11-26-2010 11:23 AM

Are you running a hot enough signal out of your imac? if the output level is too low you can experience distortion because of the signal-to-noise ratio. Had this issue with my TV once.

mufngruf 11-27-2010 08:02 AM

Just for the info...
I decided to price a few G5s on ebay and found one.... so I downloaded the specs/manual and read it to see if it would indeed do what I wish it to do.. it appears that it does.. since it has several audio out options.
BUT... I did find this curious admonition in the instructions (emphasis added) and it suggested to me that there might indeed be some kind of reason not to use the headphone jack to take audio to an amp.
Anyone know why the G5 makes this distinction?

Connecting Audio Devices
Your Power Mac G5 comes with comprehensive audio capabilities, including a
headphone jack on the front and optical digital audio out, optical digital audio in,
analog audio line-out, and analog audio line-in ports on the back.
Optical Digital Audio Ports
You can use a digital optical or Toslink cable to connect Digital Audio Tape (DAT) decks
or CD players to the optical digital audio in port and input and mix your own music.
You can also connect an audio or AV receiver to the optical digital audio out port and
set up a Power Mac G5–based home theater system.
Headphone Jack
You can plug headphones into the computer’s headphone jack. When a plug is inserted
into this jack, your internal built-in speaker is muted.
Important: Do not plug line-out devices into the headphone jack. Use the analog lineout
port on the back instead.

Analog Audio Ports
You can connect external microphones or other audio equipment to the analog
minijacks on the back of the computer. Use the Sound pane of System Preferences to
select the audio input or output device you want to use.

chas_m 11-28-2010 03:58 AM


"BlackBook" is a play on "MacBook" which means it is an Intel Mac, but you are quite forgiven for presuming otherwise -- a few friends still have black powerbooks from back in the day that are all running fine many years later.

But bottom line: there is no inherent defect in Intel Macs that causes them to produce fuzzy audio. Not sure what the issue is, but after taking a quick spin round the web it looks like the problem is local to just you.

mufngruf 11-28-2010 04:04 AM

and your comments on the post above about the difference in the audio out and headphone jack on the G5? Why would they make that distinction? What's the difference?
any ideas?

chas_m 11-28-2010 04:12 AM

To the best of my knowledge, the warning you refer to only applied to the Power Mac G5s, not to any other model (since no other model had separate audio out ports). One would presume that the reason for the warning had something to do with the difference between mic-level and line-level, since that is what distinguishes the two ports from each other.

mufngruf 11-28-2010 04:49 AM

well, maybe - but surely mic level wouldn't have anything to do with line out or HP jack

I do have another piece of data...
if I run the audio out through my Griffin iMic via USB, the fuzzy goes away.
You should also take into account that this same thing has happened on two separate computers - the fact that they happen, at the moment, to be in the same house doesn't detract from the fact that this is occurring on more than one computer.
Maybe everyone else doesn't notice, or simply accepts the distortion, or perhaps doesn't want to complain about it.

When all other possibilities have been exhausted, whatever is left - NO MATTER HOW ILLOGICAL IT MAY SEEM HAS to be the answer.... (Conan Doyle)

therefore, based on these facts...
the distortion only shows up when connecting the audio line to the headphone jack on two intel imacs.
It does not appear when the same cable is connected to the headphone jack on any other computer in the house.
It does not appear when the audio signal is obtained via USB from the imacs.
It does appear if headphones are plugged directly into the headphone jack of the intel macs....

I deduce that at least two of the intel grade imacs have a defective headphone jack or or, at least, a defect on that part of the audio card system.
These two machines were purchased through two different means over a year apart - one new, one used.
The only common link that they share is the comparative age and the intel processor... and, that they have both lived in this house.
I don't think that house is haunted, or that it contains some malevolent spirit or person who would sabotage the computers in this curious way.

eriptron 05-21-2011 04:41 PM

Native Audio out from PC always has had hum
I have never ever been able to get decent sound from a PC's native audio out. Windows based machines, if I used a 3rd party sound card, then I could get good quality sound. I always have at least had hum otherwise. It does sound exactly like 60 cycle hum as the frequency of it is wrong. I have had an HP Pavillion, Dell Latitude laptop, and now a mid-2010 iMac. I have had Yamaha amps, Pioneer receivers and now an Onkyo TX-SR606. Swapped cables numerous times, used various audio inputs, etc., etc. hum. If I connect my iMac audio out to my M-Audio amplified speakers using the same cables the sound is clean and with no hum. Conversely, my iPod and iPad audio using the same cables and connected to the "very same" jacks on my amps or receivers are clean and clear with no hum. Any headphones with my iMac audio is clean. I have never been able to figure this out and the odds that every amp and receiver I have owned has had a problem would be astronomical odds of that. I have lived in three different houses in two different towns so it's not any kind of local interference. I even have recently put my iMac on a APC UPS which should electrically isolate my iMac from the A/C circuit. even that has made no difference. I have even tried using a different circuit for my receiver and iMac and that made no difference either.

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