El Capitan

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Oh dear, oh dear.


For a long time people have been telling me that I should “go Apple” as they are the best for audio-visual work. Well, this Christmas I took the plunge and bought a high-spec MacBook Pro 15″ Retina with AMD graphics card.


The machine is very nice and does seem a little less “buggy” than Windows, if that makes any sense. I find it more akin to Unix than Windows, though (trying to find a program that works with it requires a little more work, for example).


In any case… I’ve been using a particular USB audio device to record a lot of guitar for years on my Windows machine with zero problems. As soon as I attach it to the MacBook Pro, I get a lot of snap, crackle and pop! All this audio noise that is totally unacceptable. I make the assumption that it is the hardware that is outdated and spend DAYS looking into alternative interfaces and guitar emulation software – this is going to cost me a LOT on top of the very high asking price for the laptop… I’ve never spent so much time dealing with computer issues and so little time playing guitar! All this while on my holiday when I should be recording for my album!


It turns out that the latest operating system, OSX El Capitan is incredibly “buggy” and renders USB audio interfacing practically useless. I found hundreds of complaints on the Apple forums, on USB Audio Support forums, you name it. Professionals who need this functionality to make money in their day jobs needing to revert to old OS’ in order to get a working machine. It’s a total joke! What sort of computer company makes a computer whose USB 3 inputs effectively don’t work!? I could revert the OS myself but I shouldn’t have to considering how much I just shelled out.


I bought the computer from John Lewis who say I can return within 90 days so I will update this blog to indicate whether they have kept their word regarding the return and refund.


Apart from the money wasted, the worst thing here is that so much time has been wasted. I literally don’t want to touch the recordings for some time now, instead favouring actually playing my guitar!


Apple have just lost themselves a customer for life and in record time – just a few days turnaround! Absolutely shocking for any working with USB audio.


Looks like it’s back to Windows. Yes, there is a lot of bloatware and it doesn’t seem as “fluid” but at least the USB ports work…!



So things went from bad to worse. I found many other articles online and forums with people saying that even new devices were not functioning well with the latest Apple OS. “musiciansfriend” currently have a list of the hardware providers who are updating their drivers to compensate for Apple effectively creating their own USB standard. I tried to call our local Apple shop but got a “robot” who tried to recognise what I was saying – it was unsuccessful and so I hung up. I then tried to get online support which just did not work. I eventually managed to get a call back but there was no solution. At this point I had packed the laptop away for refund. The next day I think “let’s give this a chance” – I logged on but for some unknown reason there was an additional password screen which accepted none of my passwords. It was the last straw, it had to go.

I spoke to three people at John Lewis on the phone who said the return would be no problem. On arrival, some  stooge told me that the person on the phone was wrong and that since I’d opened the product, I could not return it! I spoke to a manager and got it sorted in the end. They wanted me to first wipe the device and all associated accounts, but I just forked out £30 for them to do it, so I  could be done with the whole affair.


Absolutely the worst computing/shopping experience of my life to date.




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