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Sound on Your Mac

The list below is hardly exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of the kind of audio setups that are available on Macintosh systems. If your system is among those listed the information shown may help you get a better idea as to how to record audio with your Mac.

Typical sound input selectors (Edit menu: Preferences/Recording using Studio or Recorder) are:

  • Internal Microphone (sometimes "built-in"). This is the microphone built into the body of your Mac.
  • External Microphone/Line in. This is any microphone that will plug into and work through your Mac's audio in port. A PlainTalk microphone will usually work here. (These were fun to use. Some older PPC's came with a PlainTalk mic as standard equipment.) Microphones like this usually are amplified and the signal they input to the computer is said to be at "line level".
  • Sound In/Line in. This is also for the audio port but usually will only work with so-called "line level" inputs. A portable CD player could be connected here using audio cable running from the headphone jack of the player to the computer.. The player provides the amplification in this case.
  • CD Audio. This usually only appears under OS 9.
  • USB audio. Different devices will show up with different labels. Microphones that connect through USB interfaces are recorded using this selector.

Examples of USB microphone interfaces:

Microphone Types:

  • Condenser microphones require external power, or like a PlainTalk (which is a condenser microphone) a means to draw power from the computer.
  • Dynamic microphones generate their own electricity from the sound signal they capture. This is a low amplitude signal that must be amplified to line level. A dynamic microphone can usually be connected to a USB interface such as the iMic

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Desktop

 

Laptops

 

Power Mac G4

 

  • Two FireWire 400 ports (15W total power)
  • Four USB ports (two on system, two on keyboard)
  • Front headphone jack and speaker
  • Stereo analog audio line in and line out minijacks
  • Apple speaker minijack for connection to optional Apple Pro Speakers

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eMac
  • Two FireWire 400 ports
  • five USB ports (three on system, two on keyboard)
  • headphone jack
  • audio line in jack

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iMac G4

 

  • Built-in speaker
  • Apple Pro Speakers (7 watts each)
  • Apple Speaker minijack
  • Internal 14-watt digital amplifier
  • Headphone jack
  • Audio line in jack
  • Built-in microphone

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Original iMac (G3)
  • built-in microphone
  • external stereo sound input jack
  • sound from internal CD player

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iMac G3 (500/600 MHz)
  • built-in microphone
  • external stereo sound input jack
  • sound from internal CD-RW drive
  • call progress audio from the internal modem
  • sound from USB audio devices

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Power Macintosh G3

 

  • line-level sound input jack
  • modem card connected to the internal modem connector
  • CD-ROM player

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iBook
  • Audio minijack
  • Internal microphone
  • Internal Modem
  • CD Audio

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Powerbook G4
  • the built-in microphone
  • the audio input jack
  • a CD or DVD in the DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo drive
  • a CD or DVD in the DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive
  • a digital audio device connected to a USB or FireWire port
  • sound signals from the communication (modem) slot

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