[Solved] Mac: Audio recording drops out every few seconds

apps-in-the-background

I've spent the last two days recording my first podcast episode. And as always, it didn't go as smoothly as I thought it would. After the first shot, I wondered why every 4 to 5 seconds a second was suddenly missing from the shot.

The second wasn't silence or noise, but just like "cut away". Of course, you can't really record a podcast this way, so I started troubleshooting.

The solution for people who don't want to read for a long time: I ended up having to disable some programs that were allowed to run in the background under System Preferences → General → Login Items.

If you're interested in how I found out, read on.

Changing audio apps didn't work

The first thing I tried was how different apps behaved. The first app I wanted to work with was Hindenburg - a really simple and easy to use app for iPad and Mac that allows multitrack recording and has a lot of good presets and features that podcasters are happy to have.

The dropouts in the recording were unfortunately present in Hindenburg, which is why I then included it Garage band and tried Audacity. But there were mistakes here too. With Audacity, in addition to the dropouts, there were even "hangs" where parts of the recording were repeated in rapid succession. It sounded like I was stuttering every few seconds.

So it was clear to me that the problems did not originate with Hindenburg himself, but rather were a problem with my macOS installation.

Podcast recording and editing with Hindenburg software on Mac is really fun because it's so easy and intuitive.
Podcast recording and editing with Hindenburg software on Mac is really fun because it's so easy and intuitive.

Creating a new user

My next step in investigating the cause of the audio dropouts was to create a new user on macOS. With this I then started Garageband and made a test recording.

The result: no dropouts. That meant something was installed in my user account that was causing the problems.

Check background objects

Small “auxiliary programs” are installed with many programs, which run in the background and wait for any events. For example, Microsoft installs an app that checks whether there are any updates for Microsoft software. Chrome also installs a background process and so accumulates a lot over time, which starts up with every system start and then constantly works in the background.

The programs that run in the background can be found under System settings → General → Login items under the “Allow in background” area. Next to the name of the program is a slide switch that can be set to "on" or "off".

I went through this list and disabled everything that I didn't think was necessary. For example, I also had processes like "chmod", "Christoph Sinai", "Helper Tool" and similar, which I could not assign to any app. I deactivated everything and then restarted the Mac so that the processes were really turned off.

In the window for the login items you can also see the apps that are running in the background on the Mac and disable them if necessary.
In the window for the login items you can also see the apps that are running in the background on the Mac and disable them if necessary.

Problem solved: background app interferes with recording

My next test showed that my suspicions were correct. The recording went without dropouts or hangs - no more problems.

One of these programs probably kept the system or the SSD so busy every few seconds that it could no longer take care of writing the audio files away. This caused the jumps in the recording that made every recording unusable.

If you have similar troubles with audio recordings, please leave me a comment here. Maybe we can find a solution to your problems together.

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4 Responses to "[Solved] Mac: Audio recording drops out every few seconds"

  1. Thanks. Although I would always prefer dedicated semi-professional hardware for critical processes... provided you can justify the financial expenditure. For podcasting e.g. Rødecaster Pro II and for video a device from the ATEM mini Pro/Extreme family or a YoloBox. Run much more reliable and stable and are not prone to such problems.

  2. In order to determine which of all these login items was actually responsible for the dropouts, you would have to reactivate them one after the other and then determine which one is causing the error again.

    Among those mentioned were some objects that are probably harmless, such as the extension that belongs to the developer Christoph Sinai: This is the developer of Coconut Battery (mobile).

    1. Yes, I should actually. But I had to solve the problem quickly and couldn't troubleshoot another day. 😊 But good that I now know who Christoph is and why my name is Christoph and why my CoconutBattery will soon no longer display any data from the iPhone. 😂

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