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Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?

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Vic Noseworthy
Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 25, 2010 at 5:32:46 am

Hi,
I'm trying to connect a pair of Mackie MR5 monitors to my MacBook Pro laptop. I do not have a technical bone in my body and, based on some of the things I've read, am beginning to wonder if it can be safely done (i.e. without damaging my equipment). Can I simply connect the components using a cable? Or do I need another piece of equipment to put in between the computer and monitors? If I can simply do it with a cable, can you suggest how I might connect? Should I simply go from the headphone monitor output to the RCA (unbalanced) input? To the TRS (balanced) input? I'm seriously concerned about damaging either my laptop or my monitors (brand new!), so ANY advice you can offer will be GREATLY appreciated!
Thanks very much!
Vic


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Ty Ford
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 25, 2010 at 1:46:32 pm

Hello Vic and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I think you'll be fine with the RCA. The line is unbalanced, but try that first. You might want to have the Mackies turned off before you connect them, just to make sure the level coming out of the laptop isn't too loud for them.

Your biggest limitation will be the MacBook output amp. It's at a consumer level (-10). I regularly feed my MacBook laptop headphone out to my Integra 7.1 receiver/amp so I can watch movies from Netflix over the web. I hot plug the two all the time with minimal noise.

Regards,

Ty Ford



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Vic Noseworthy
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 8:14:53 pm

Hi Ty,
Thank you for your help/input. As I mentioned, I'm a complete neophyte when it comes to most electronics (especially audio!) I've connected the MR5s to my MacBook Pro by running a Y-cable (stereo) from the headphone jack and into the TRS connections on the back of the monitors. I found the sound rather unimpressive (and I'd been used to only $20 desktop speakers). More importantly, I can hear a constant static sound in the monitors (a kind of crackle, with a faint "chirping" sound). Moreover, when I scroll with the mouse on the laptop, it results in added static (directly resulting from the scrolling).
FYI: The static doesn't get louder when I turn up the volume (via the audio controls on the Mac).
Have you ever experienced this kind of problem/interference? Any thoughts as to what might be causing it? How I might fix the problem?
Thanks again, Ty. I do appreciate your expertise. As I said, I know nothing about audio!
Vic


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Ty Ford
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 9:27:38 pm

Hello Vic,

Could be a polluted headphone output. Stick a pair of good headphones in and listen to hear if you hear the same things.

If you do, the next step is to get an isolation box to put between the headphone output and the monitors.
My choice (I use one on each workstation) are made by ebtech.
http://www.markertek.com/Audio-Equipment/Audio-Processing/Audio-Hum-Noise-E...

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Vic Noseworthy
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 10:07:02 pm

Hi Ty,
I'm using a pair of Sony MDR-XD200 headphones (about $55); not sure if these are up to scratch to try what you've suggested. But, I really don't hear anything in them at all (no static, I mean). Could it be that, even though I don't hear any static in the headphones, that I still need the device you've mentioned in order to get good sound on my monitors?
Thank you, again.
Vic


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Ty Ford
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 10:15:25 pm

Vic,

Hm, weird. Maybe the unbalanced cables to the Mackies are picking up stuff. That's a problem with unbalanced cables. In that case, you want the shortest unbalanced cables to the isolation box. Then balanced from the box to the Mackies.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Vic Noseworthy
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 10:45:03 pm

That sounds like good advice, Ty. Thanks! I've been experimenting with a couple of different cables I have here, and one cable seems to be worse than the other (i.e. more/louder static noise). So, perhaps the problem is, indeed, with the cables.
FYI: Originally, I'd been running my cable from the headphone jack (unbalanced?) to the TRS (balanced) on the back of the monitor. Is there a problem with going from an unbalanced out connector to a balanced in connector?
Just wondering...
Thanks, again, Ty.
Vic


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Ty Ford
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 11:34:31 pm

[Vic Noseworthy] "That sounds like good advice, Ty. Thanks! I've been experimenting with a couple of different cables I have here, and one cable seems to be worse than the other (i.e. more/louder static noise). So, perhaps the problem is, indeed, with the cables.

>>Very possible or with the jack in the computer. If the cables look dodgy, try some new ones.


FYI: Originally, I'd been running my cable from the headphone jack (unbalanced?)

>> yes, unbalanced.

to the TRS (balanced) on the back of the monitor. Is there a problem with going from an unbalanced out connector to a balanced in connector?
Just wondering...
Thanks, again, Ty. "


>>Not always. Make sure the cable isn't near a power cable or draped across the computer. Unbalanced cables pick up extraneous noise easily.

Coming out of the headphone jack, you're probably using an adapter or Y-cable. Sometimes they are not wired as you would like them and unless you have a continuity checker, you can't really be sure what's going on. Could be just bad "electrical plumbing" (my term for physical connections).

If you're getting good sound from the headphones, something's probably up with the cables or connectors.

Regards,

Ty Ford



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Vic Noseworthy
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 11:05:06 pm

Hi again, Ty.
Just wanted to clarify: It's not a constant, even "hum" that I'm getting (I actually experience that from my old desktop computer speakers); rather, it's an inconsistent "sputtery" static that I'm getting. It kind of sounds like the somewhat erratic sound you hear when your hard drive is being accessed, only more static-like. Could this still be caused by AC or RF interference?
Thanks,
Vic


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Ty Ford
Re: Connecting audio monitors to MacBook Pro?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 11:36:45 pm

don't know what to say. if the cables and connectors are moving, that could cause static like sounds.

Loose jacks and plugs can as well.

Ty

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