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New 13" MacBook Pro drops digital audio input for FireWire and SD

post #1 of 81
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The new 13" MacBook Pro unveiled at WWDC makes room for its new SD card slot and FireWire 800 port in part by giving up a digital audio input port. Instead, the new model uses the same integrated mic and headphone port as the iPhone.

Most MacBook users are unlikely to ever employ the combination digital and analog audio input port, which has appeared on all Mac notebooks for years. Podcasters are likely to use a USB mic like the Blue Snowball instead.

However, lots of users are likely to want to use their iPhone or iPod touch combination headset/mic with their MacBook for video conferencing, and recent notebooks have added the additional pin required to support recording audio in addition to stereo headphone analog outputs and digital audio output.

Dropping the rarely used audio input jack helped enable Apple's engineers to include a new SD card slot for accommodating SD, mini SD and micro SD flash RAM cards from cameras and other devices. The new port also appears to supports the SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) standard, which allows card capacities up to 32GB.

Support for FireWire 800 is also new, signaling a return to the ubiquitous FireWire Target Mode feature that has long defined the Mac experience. While capable of speeds theoretically twice as fast as standard FireWire 400, the FW-800 specification uses a different plug to accommodate extra wires needed to support faster speeds with FW-800 devices. It is, however, backwardly compatible with FireWire 400 devices and only needs a simple FW-400 to FW-800 cable to work with existing FW-400 hard drives and other devices.
post #2 of 81
Wow, we must be on the same brainwave today!

I just tried to submit this story and it wouldn't go through:

(quoting myself here)

Quote:
The SDXC (SD eXtended Capacity), a new specification just announced at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, will allow for up to 2 TB capacity cards.

As you know, Apple is now offering a SD on it's new Mac laptop models.

Apple's tech specs on laptop hardware doesn't specify the speed or SD capacity of their new SD slot. (edit: SDHC at least)

This is a big development, and allows huge amounts of content to be easily transported in a small device.

CD and DVD's may be on their way out, and BlueRay may not even come to the Mac platform as a result.


So what? is that a scoop or what? So what do I win?
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post #3 of 81
Let the whining begin.
post #4 of 81
I'd take a SD slot and firewire port anyday over a mic line in. Anyday.
Are you able to record in stereo with the other options? Or is it mono only? Just curious- no complaints.
post #5 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Let the whining begin.

For what the lack of BlueRay?

Steve has said BlueRay is a "bag of hurt" so it looks like SD is going to be the "new thing"

2TB is huge amount and SD's small slim factor is ideal for very thin laptops and future iPhones.

So now we know.

Oh jesus, buy San Disk...but wait, SD isn't cheap...

oops
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post #6 of 81
I don't buy the notion that Apple drops a port because they had to to add another port (in this case and many others). There are plenty of machines out there that have both ports and more - can we drop the charade of "but apple had no choice!"

If apple really wanted to keep both, they could have made it happen.

And the feature that defines the mac experience is really FireWire Target Mode? Really? Sure, it's cool, but it Defines the Experience?
post #7 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

For what the lack of BlueRay?

Steve has said BlueRay is a "bag of hurt" so it looks like SD is going to be the "new thing"

2TB is huge amount and SD's small slim factor is ideal for very thin laptops and future iPhones.

So now we know.

Oh jesus, buy San Disk...

I think using optical media for storing data is a thing of the past mainly because they take forever to record data and it is cheaper to use other alternative (SD, USB flash drives, external HDD... etc). I see BluRay for video only not data for the previous reasons and personally I prefer watching HD movies on 32"+ display.
post #8 of 81
All I care about is that they un****ed the Macbook by giving it it's Firewire port back. If they saw it fit to replace the Audio In port with an SD card reader, then that's fine with me.
post #9 of 81
I don't like the idea of the dropped audio input port, this is just a slow slide against pro and audio creators in favor of locked down consumer machines.

The port is tiny, it could have gone anywhere, this is bullsh*t.
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post #10 of 81
Outstanding tradeoff. Adding an SD slot will help TONS of users, while removing the input will hurt very few.
post #11 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

I don't like the idea of the dropped audio input port, this is just a slow slide against pro and audio creators in favor of locked down consumer machines.

The port is tiny, it could have gone anywhere, this is bullsh*t.

Pfft, most "audio pros" use Firewire these days. I remember getting quite excited about the audio line-in when I bought the 15" PowerBook G4 I'm using right now only to find I needed a preamp. \

It's not necessarily about if they could fit it in but should they. If the line-in's removal contributed to the across-the-board price drops, fine by me. It's good to know the headphone jack now sports another connector for audio input sans preamp, in addition to the built-in mic, USB2.0, and FW800.
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post #12 of 81
Digital audio in has been dropped. If I've read correctly, analog is still available, though, only via the iPhone's mic spec.
post #13 of 81
I just posted about this change up on another thread. I wish I had seen this first.

1) Its not just the line-in that is gone, the Kensington lock port has also been removed. It now resides on the opposite at the front of the optical drive slot.

2) From my preliminary measurements the space from the MagSafe adapter to the audio jack has not changed from the previous model from the MagSafe to the Kensington lock port.

3) The cord-based headphone controls work from the audio jack like you are controlling your iPhone, 3G Shuffle or other newer iDevices.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

I don't like the idea of the dropped audio input port, this is just a slow slide against pro and audio creators in favor of locked down consumer machines.

The port is tiny, it could have gone anywhere, this is bullsh*t.

I understand you PoV, but this is only on the 13 MBP and a USB-to-3.5mm female jack will probably come out just for this. I cant imagine it being too expensive from Monoprice. (And I understand your position for having to buy an adapter for something that is usually included )
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post #14 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Outstanding tradeoff. Adding an SD slot will help TONS of users, while removing the input will hurt very few.

I agree

When you think about how easy it will be to add 32GB of storage to your computer with a 1oz card versus losing an audio in port that can be added via USB or FW I can live with this tradeoff as well.

SDHC...I hope this is confirmed. If so ...great deal!
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post #15 of 81
i like what they've done with the ports. it makes sense to me why they've removed and added what they did.

they mention that the audio out actually has audio in so that you can use your iphone ear-phones. additionally, a mic actually worth using wouldn't have used the old input port, instead it would be USB.(like the article points out)

it is a shame that they removed the expansion card slot, BUT i think they did this cause its probably mostly used for net-access, but now with FW3.0 they figure people will have an iphone and us it for tethering.
post #16 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

I don't like the idea of the dropped audio input port, this is just a slow slide against pro and audio creators in favor of locked down consumer machines.

Did anyone use the audio in port? Most pro audio users have other means of input, mainly outboard usb boxes, but mainly firewire ones. If anything, the addition of firewire is far better for the pros than anything else.

I'm not 100% pleased with ditching the expressport for SD (after all, can't you get an express port SD adapter?). But I'm going to freak here, the addition of firewire makes everything better, and I'm happy they didn't go all PC with us and throw 6 different card slots on the machines
post #17 of 81
I'm still struggling with the notion that the 13-inch is now a MacBook Pro. One issue that I have is the lack of similar speakers on the 13-inch versus the 15-inch and 17-inch.
post #18 of 81
If you're into serious recording you would rather use your Firewire interface anyway. But having the ability to do, say 2 channel optical output with a mic input without needing an external interface was nice. Or can that still be done?

Couldn't care less about SD. They should have left the ExpressCard slot in until they could start using USB 3 ports, which can basically use the PCI Express bus like ExpressCard (and with latency similar to Firewire, supposedly).
post #19 of 81
Just think...offloading a handful of programs (say World of Warcraft) to an SDHC card since most don't need to be installed via an installer - it would be nice to be able to swap out cards depending on the apps being used instead of taking up valuable HD space!
post #20 of 81
The problem with ExpressCard was that so many cards had sucktastic drivers.

What's the point of expansion if the cards don't work well enough. I swear the reason why Apple got rid of expansion cards in the iMac line was probably predicated on the notion that

expansion cards = trouble and higher tech support costs.
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post #21 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Expat View Post

Did anyone use the audio in port?

Yes, I did. I liked being able to jack my guitar right into the MacBook for quick recordings. While I'm not thrilled with the new audio plug situation, I'm happy that FireWire is back. It sounds like if I had the right adapter I could still plug my guitar in... though I guess the jury is still out.
post #22 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by wobegon View Post

Pfft, most "audio pros" use Firewire these days. I remember getting quite excited about the audio line-in when I bought the 15" PowerBook G4 I'm using right now only to find I needed a preamp. \

It's not necessarily about if they could fit it in but should they. If the line-in's removal contributed to the across-the-board price drops, fine by me. It's good to know the headphone jack now sports another connector for audio input sans preamp, in addition to the built-in mic, USB2.0, and FW800.

I don't know, it isn't like mixing boards really change all the time. I mean, I had a FW400 Mixer and had issues using it, then somebody dropped my Macbook with firewire requiring me to buy a new laptop. I had all of this software that was relatively new, but I had to get a different mixer that supported USB 2.0. Now this comes out with firewire 800 which could have solved the problem with a little adapter, not to mention, it's cheaper.

Make up your mind Apple. Don't give us your BS "logic", get us all to buy into it, and then change your mind.

As for the audio ports, they were great for ripping audio files that couldn't be converted easily. I know there are other ways, but I used to run a 1/8" male to male into the audio out and in and just record commercials or random "not easily" converted audio files that way.

Before I started purchasing mixing boards and firewire or USB audio devices, the audio in was a great way to do some basic audio recording, especially if you were on the go. You could easy plug in a guitar or mic.

I don't buy the "it cuts down on cost". You're already drilling the unibody full of holes, what would two more cost?
post #23 of 81
Actually, the new Makbook Pro 13" has an integrated audio in/out port. Read the tech specs on the website.
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post #24 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by donlphi View Post

I don't know, it isn't like mixing boards really change all the time. I mean, I had a FW400 Mixer and had issues using it, then somebody dropped my Macbook with firewire requiring me to buy a new laptop. I had all of this software that was relatively new, but I had to get a different mixer that supported USB 2.0. Now this comes out with firewire 800 which could have solved the problem with a little adapter, not to mention, it's cheaper.

1) Apple coming out with a new MacBook does not require you to ditch your old MacBook.

2) There were MBPs and polycarb MBs for you to buy if your old MB had become unusable.


Quote:
I don't buy the "it cuts down on cost". You're already drilling the unibody full of holes, what would two more cost?

If drilling holes were the only way to add a port, then sure, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. There is also an issue with space again which may be why the 13” MBP didn’t get the separate audio-in, but I don’t see why you’d use it if you have professional equipment. Apple could put it anywhere, but this is Apple and they follow a certain aesthetic which you should expect with each revision.
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post #25 of 81
I use the audio input on my old iMac and my 13" aluminum Macbook a lot. If and when I get a new 13" Macbook pro, then I guess it would matter. The input comes in handy for getting audio from the tape out on a mixer, or anything with line or tape out. The USB microphones that are being sold for podcasting are not very good, but you can get a "Blue Iclcle", USB-XLR adapter that will allow you to use a good microphone in the USB port.

Like I said, it only matters if you buy a new 13" Macbook pro. If you can afford that, then you can afford an adapter or USB/firewire mixer.
post #26 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyPhil View Post

I use the audio input on my old iMac and my 13" aluminum Macbook a lot. If and when I get a new 13" Macbook pro, then I guess it would matter. The input comes in handy for getting audio from the tape out on a mixer, or anything with line or tape out.

That hasnt changed. You still have a 3.5mm analog audio line-in. What you dont have is a separate line-in and line-out jack. Unless you are listening to headphones while importing your tapes there isnt much of an issue. I doubt that many will be affected by this. In fact, the most likely to be affected seem to be those who will want to use old-style headphones with mic that have the input and output as separate plugs on the same cable.
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post #27 of 81
The 13" still have Audio IN, it is just on the same jack.

post #28 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by techpr View Post

The 13" still have Audio IN, it is just on the same jack.


Yes, that's my question. Is that jack a audio input hybrid because it has an extra conductor like the iPhone? Because that isn't exactly a solution for audio input since it's basically a special plug.

I'm hoping the hybrid jack is capable of auto-sensing and is reconfigurable to act as a standard 3 conductor audio input or output jack. There's been reconfigurable audio jacks in PC motherboards for a while so it can't be that hard to do.
post #29 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by amac4me View Post

One issue that I have is the lack of similar speakers on the 13-inch versus the 15-inch and 17-inch.

For what earthly listening purpose -- other than the 'ping' at startup, or a lo-res lo-quality Youtube video/audio -- did you use the 15-inch and 17-inch speaker for!?

They're all crappy. I am not sure I can tell the difference between the various levels of crappiness across the different models.
post #30 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Expat View Post

Did anyone use the audio in port?

I used it to muck around in garageband. Basically I'd play a song through iTunes then use a male to male audio cord I had lying around to feed it back into the input on the same laptop and sample the song in garageband. Then I'd chop it up for shits and giggles.
post #31 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Unless you are listening to headphones while importing your tapes there isnt much of an issue.

I'm assuming that what they've done is make it take an iPhone-style headphone jack + mono mic input. If that's true, then the laptop no longer has analog stereo input.

If, on the other hand, what they've done is to make it either an input or an output, but not both at the same time, people would not be able to use headsets with Skype, or record a musical instrument while listening through headphones.

I have not heard the final word on this, but either way, it seems a little weak.
post #32 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by graxspoo View Post

I'm assuming that what they've done is make it take an iPhone-style headphone jack + mono mic input. If that's true, then the laptop no longer has analog stereo input.

If, on the other hand, what they've done is to make it either an input or an output, but not both at the same time, people would not be able to use headsets with Skype, or record a musical instrument while listening through headphones.

I have not heard the final word on this, but either way, it seems a little weak.

Per Apple tech specs page: Combined optical digital output/headphone out (user-selectable analog audio line in)

Like the iDevices there is a separate connector. You can use Skype and such, but youll need compatible headphones.
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post #33 of 81
I ran out and bought the last of the Black MacBooks the day they announced the 13" Unibody MacBook for FEAR I would never be able to get another 13" mobile Mac with a Firewire port. I told everyone that model was crazy and not to buy it. I wonder if sales were unusually slow on it. Glad to see Apple marketing came to its senses. I'm sure engineering protested a lot about the idea of not keeping Firewire on the first model. Made no sense.

I like the new model a lot. But it's not enough faster than my BlackBook @ 2.4GHz to make me want to get one until it runs @ over 3GHz with 4 cores. I'm standing pat now until 3GHz Quad Core MacBook Pros come out - prolly in 2011. I know they will start @ 2.5GHz later this year or early next year. But my mobile needs are modest so I'm happy with my 13" 2.4 GHz C2D BlackBook & 17" 2.6 GHz C2D Book Pro for another 2 years or so. Snow Leopard should be a great boost to both of their performance characteristics.

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post #34 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Per Apple tech specs page: Combined optical digital output/headphone out (user-selectable analog audio line in)

Like the iDevices there is a separate connector. You can use Skype and such, but youll need compatible headphones.

You are assuming you know what "user-selectable analog audio line in" means. Do you have inside information, or have any other technical details to point to? What you're saying makes sense, but until I have more information I won't jump to that conclusion. The word "selectable" strikes me as odd, since it would seem to imply the user would have to make some sort of system setting to change the output to an input, and if that's the case then it could not be used for both in and out at the same time.
post #35 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

That hasnt changed. You still have a 3.5mm analog audio line-in.

Fool. It's not stereo anymore.
post #36 of 81
Hey, I just had an interesting thought.

Does anyone have any in-depth knowledge of Firewire 3200? All of the cables, connectors, and ports are visibly identical right? Have suppliers pushed out working silicon yet? Has anyone seen a tear-down of the new Macbook Pros?

I know it's highly unlikely, but is there any way the new MB pros could be FW3200 compatible? Even with a firmware upgrade? Wouldn't that be an awesome surprise? Like 802.11N!
post #37 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by donlphi View Post

As for the audio ports, they were great for ripping audio files that couldn't be converted easily. I know there are other ways, but I used to run a 1/8" male to male into the audio out and in and just record commercials or random "not easily" converted audio files that way.


Hmm... so you used an audio cable to go from your Mac, back to your Mac, to record audio playing out of your speakers? It may be simpler to just use audio stripping software. One neat little program is called WireTap from Ambrosia software (http://www.ambrosiasw.com/). It's a bit of a cost, I admit, but it lets you take audio from pretty much anything.

This isn't an endorsement, just a suggestion. I don't get paid, though it would be nice if someone wanted to pay me!
post #38 of 81
The hardware of the new MacBook Pro 13'' is pretty nice but this story about Jack troubles me.
I sometimes use the audio input in combination of the audio out to plug my guitar and listen to what I'm playing with headphones or some good quaity speakers.
Since I'm not a "pro" I don't wanna buy costly peripherals which can perform better than this combination. I have an amplifier but simetimes I wanna play with my cmputer: so now I won't be able to do that anymore ? And come-on, I don't care about the SD card stuff since I'm using a Sony camera with Memory Sticks.
I'm also concerned about those "headphone + mic" handset which can be very useful: will we still be able to use them ?
Apple is always bragging about "making multimedia easier" with their computer, but they did it wrong this time.
About the comming-back-from-the-grave of the firewire, I'm a bit surprised: I thought they wanted to trash the Firewire ?
Since Setve is gone, Apple's politic is becoming hard to understand. I'm trusting them less and less, which is the worse.
post #39 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by yopmaster View Post

About the comming-back-from-the-grave of the firewire, I'm a bit surprised: I thought they wanted to trash the Firewire ?

They never said nor implied any such thing. A bunch of hyper over-reactive people assumed a grand conspiracy against firewire instead of the real reason - lack of physical real-estate.
post #40 of 81
Finally we get the confimation that it is at least SDHC...

I Cant wait till more SDXC card and reader to come through though.

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