There’s not much more frustrating to anyone recording sound on a Mac than to plug in, play and hear nothing. You check the connections multiple times and all appears fine, to be met only with a wall of silence. Specifically here we’re talking about MIDI-based input into your Mac, so it could be from a myriad of USB/FireWire instruments.
Typically you might be using a keyboard, MIDI drums or even MIDI guitar – with built-in or external interface. Point being, as long as you are getting a valid signal into OS X, there are ways of tinkering with MIDI settings and ensuring you’re set up for apps like GarageBand and Logic. We’ll also check on Sound settings in System Preferences, so beginners and experts alike can get to the bottom of any problems.
1 Launch Audio MIDI Setup
Audio MIDI Setup extends System Preferences’ audio options, adding tools for connected devices. Access it via Spotlight or within the Utilities folder of Applications.
2 Audio Devices window
This default window opens to list your Audio Devices, both those built-in and others currently connected. The panel on the left lists and describes each detected device.
3 Playing with channels
Click a device and available channels for the selected device’s input or output appear. These settings should be optimal by default, but you can manually alter volume and sampling rate.
4 Configure speakers
Right-click a device and choose Configure Speakers. Here you can tweak stereo or multichannel setups, typically external surround systems. Click the speaker to sound a tone.
5 MIDI Studio access
The MIDI options are accessed via Window> Show MIDI Studio. This panel shows connected MIDI devices, network and Bluetooth sources – all as thumbnail icons you can examine.
6 MIDI Studio window
If a device is found, it will be represented as an icon. You can manually add and configure an external device by clicking Add Device, or Rescan MIDI to refresh the list.
7 Show Info
Select a device, highlighting it in blue, and press the Show Info button. A dialog offers naming options, while also showing whether the device is online, along with port settings.
8 Test Setup
Toggle the Test Setup button on and press the buttons on your MIDI controller, such as the keys on a keyboard. The input arrow on the device icon should flash blue, sounding a tone.
9 System sound preferences
Most sound issues stem from not having your correct audio input/output device selected, unmuted or at the correct volume. Find the master controls under System Preferences.