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Chapter 11. The Mac Sound Machine > Sound Hardware and Mac OS X

Sound Hardware and Mac OS X

As part of Apple’s goal of providing the world’s most usable computer, Macintosh computers have come with built-in audio inputs and outputs suitable for home use since the late 1980s. All OS X-capable Macintosh systems have built-in audio hardware that is suitable for most home audio playback and recording purposes. Apple first began including the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chips required for serious audio processing on the motherboards of some of its Centris and Quadra models, but these were only the basis of the audio requirements for the professional musician or sound person. Though the first high-end Macintosh audio cards appeared in the ancient NuBus days, Apple’s adoption of the industry-standard PCI bus (also used in Windows systems and some workstations) opened the market for affordable, high-quality audio cards that you could use with a Mac to provide studio-quality audio recording and playback.

All of today’s Mac G3 and G4 desktop systems have at least one PCI slot that you can use to add a higher-quality audio card than the one built into your Mac. The built-in hardware should suffice unless you’re a serious musician, audiophile, or a compulsive computer user.


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