There is a reportedly a critical (and currently unresolved) Mac bug that is causing serious issues for musicians, music producers
Some of the symptoms of the bug include audio dropouts and glitches in the actual audio stream. The bug apparently impacts uses regardless of the make of their audio interface. As far as a cause, an Open Radar bug report indicates that it’s tied to network time synchronization. All of this suggests that it’s a problem on Apple’s part.
As one Redditor points out, the software issue makes T2 Macs “pretty much useless for any professional audio work.” Which is worrying, considering that most of the Mac lineup is specifically aimed at the creative professional market.
How Widespread Is It?
Music production blog CDM reported that all T2-equipped Macs are unusable with USB 2.0 audio interfaces. It added that USB 3.0 audio interfaces could be also impacted, although those are relatively rare and it’s hard to confirm that fact.
On the other hand, CDM indicated that Thunderbolt 3 audio interfaces are seemingly unaffected by the bug. That suggests that it could be tied to a problem specific to the T2 chip overloading the USB bus when it attempts to sync time settings.
But, at this point, it’s impossible to confirm just how widespread the issue is. That’s partly attributable to the fact that Mac owners using USB 2.0 audio interfaces are only a percentage of the total Mac user base.
This Isn’t the First T2 bug
Apple’s T2 is an advanced piece of first-party silicon that enables and combines various system functions, from an audio controller to baked-in security features. Unfortunately, it has also had its own share of problems in the past.
Back in 2018, users reported that their T2-equipped MacBook Pro models were experiencing kernel panics and crackling speaker issues. Apple has since patched those problems, and this new bug suggests that there are still audio-related issues with the T2.
It’s also worth noting that MacBook Pro users have reported other audio-based problems that could also be related. Earlier this month, we reported on a software bug that could cause permanent speaker damage when using Adobe Premiere Pro.
What You Should Do in the Meantime
As mentioned earlier, we can’t confirm how widespread the bug is. But if you rely on your Mac for professional audio, we recommend caution. If your Mac is working fine now, you may want to hold off on updating your software in case it’s tied to a recent version of macOS.
If you have experienced the audio bug, you can potentially bypass it by using Thunderbolt 3 gear. That includes a Thunderbolt 3 audio interface, or your USB interface plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 adapter or hub.
Several music professionals have also come up with some migration tactics. That includes disabling Set date and time automaticallyin System Preferences and unchecking location sync in the Time Zone menu. Both are reported to reduce, but not fix, the number of dropouts experienced.
Apple May Have a Fix Soon
At this point, it isn’t clear whether or not Apple is aware of the bug. While many of the reports stretch back to the same time as other T2-related problems, the audio dropout issue is still being experienced by users running the latest software.
In any case, at least some of the impacted Mac owners have likely reported the problem to Apple. If the company is aware of the problem, it’s probably working on a software-side fix that it could release in an upcoming version of macOS.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the issue is tied to a firmware or hardware flaw within the T2 chip. If that’s the case, fixing it with a software update may be more difficult.