OS X FAQ: General information on RME Mac OS X drivers

»Mac OS Overview

Important information on compatibility with Apple G5 computers (Top)

Before an installation of DIGI96 series and DIGI9636/52 (Hammerfall) cards please read this.

1. Round about Driver Installation (Top)

The driver with the file suffix gz provided by RME is a compressed TAR archive. TAR bundles multiple files and folders into one file, but does not save memory space nor download time. Both TAR and gz are supported natively by OS X, a double click on the file is all you need to do.

Older browsers do not recognize gz as an archive, loading the file as a document. This results in a cryptic looking text within the browser window. Downloading the file can be done via the right mouse key, Save Target as. Despite this procedure, some older browsers like Netscape 4.78 will not save the file correctly - the archive will be corrupted.

The driver consists of a package file (pkg), which contains various folders and files, similar to TAR. A double click will start the OS X installer. To save you the hassle of installing both audio and MIDI drivers separately, the HDSP series driver contains an additional meta package (mpkg), that points to the single packages. Those single packages are not shown in the Finder, as they reside within the invisible folder '.contained_packages'. Only the mpkg is visible. Important: an installation can only be done with the complete folder. If only the mpkg is copied to a different place, it will not find the single driver packages!

The actual audio driver appears as a kernel extension file. The installer copies it to System / Library / Extensions. Depending on the card type, it's name is HammerfallDSP.kext, digi9652.kext or digi96.kext. It is visible in the Finder, allowing you to verify date and driver version. Yet, in fact this again is a folder containing subdirectories and files.

Nonetheless, this 'driver file' can be removed by simply dragging it to the trash bin. This can be helpful in case a driver installation fails. An incomplete installation can currently (10.3.2) only be detected indirectly: The installation routine does not open a message window with a note about a restart of the computer. This indicates that the driver file was not copied and the driver was not installed!

Several users have observed that the installation routine occasionally stops and no longer works correctly. This can be fixed by removing the corresponding extension file prior to installation. In some cases, also (or only) a repair of the disk permissions will help.

We have also received reports saying the driver update could not be installed on the system disk - shown red crossed during the installation. Repairing permission may also help here. If not, we're sorry, but have to recommend to contact Apple. Our driver has no knowledge of folders, disks etc., the installation is handled completely by the OS X installer.

2. MIDI doesn't work (Top)

In some cases MIDI does not work after the installation of the HDSP driver. To be precise, applications do not show an installed MIDI port. The reason for this is usually visible within the Audio MIDI Setup. It displays no RME MIDI device, or the device is greyed out and therefore inactive. Mostly, removing the greyed out device and searching for MIDI devices again will solve the problem. If this does not help, we recommend manual removal of the MIDI driver and reinstallation of the complete driver. Otherwise repairing permissions may help.

The HDSP MIDI driver is a plugin. During installation it will be copied to Library / Audio / MIDI Drivers. It's name is Hammerfall DSP MIDI.plugin. The file can be displayed in the Finder and also be removed by simply dragging it to the trash bin.

3. Which Sample Rates are supported? (Top)

RME's Mac OS X driver supports all sampling frequencies provided by the hardware. This includes 32 kHz and 64 kHz for all cards, and even 128 kHz, 176.4 kHz and 192 kHz for the HDSP 9632.

But not every software will support all the hardware's sample rates. For example Spark does not display 32 kHz and 64 kHz. The hardware's capabilities can easily be verified in the Audio MIDI Setup. Select Audio devices under Properties of: and choose the RME card. A click on Format will list the supported sample frequencies.

If the card is in clock mode Master, selecting a sample rate will immediately set the device to this frequency, which can be verified in the RME card's settings dialog (System Clock). Format thus allows you to activate any sampling frequency quickly and easily.

4. Repairing Disk Permissions (Top)

Repairing permission can solve problems with the installation process - plus many others. To do this, launch Disk Utility located in Utilities. Select your system drive in the drive/volume list to the left. The First Aid tab to the right now allows you to check and repair disk permissions.
 

5. Notes on current Aluminum Powerbooks (Top)

Pre-note: According to our tests, Apple seem to have fixed the Aluminum issue described below in OS 10.3.3. We will provide information and driver fix for some more time, until it is sure all problems are completely resolved.

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The latest Apple 'Aluminum' G4 powerbooks will freeze when using MIDI and audio with RME's CardBus card. After weeks of heavy testing and examination using a PCI Logic analyzer on our CardBus card, we have come to the conclusion that the chipset of the current Apple PowerBooks includes a hardware bug. A PCI memory read command right after a busmaster memory write burst can end up in a deadlock. The computer seems to have crashed. The effect is easy to be reproduced by using software like Logic with both audio (busmaster) and MIDI (memory read). This problem can not be solved by a driver update.

Thanks to RME's flash technology we are able to provide a slightly changed hardware version, which no longer triggers the problematic events. This new special Aluminum PowerBook version (hardware revision 12) uses I/O instead of memory commands to access the cards internal registers. Of course, such a change also requires a changed driver, which uses I/O read/write commands as well. Since driver version 1.4 a revision 12 CardBus card is detected and I/O automatically used. With all other hardware revisions, the usual memory commands are used.

A CardBus card flashed to Aluminum PowerBook can not be used in a Windows or Linux machine anymore! Of course it can be flashed back to CardBus (only!) on the Mac, and is then compatible to Windows/Linux again.
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6. PCI card and PCI slot compatibility (Top)

Information on general hardware compatibility can be found here. Apart from this, not every RME card will work in every PCI slot of an Apple computer. To our knowledge, the current Hammerfall DSP systems can be used in any PCI slot of all G4 and G5 models. DIGI96 series and Hammerfall serie will not be detected (initialized) in specific slots of some models. Detailed information will be published here later.
 

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