Under The Microscope


Archive for June, 2018

Quieting Vuvuzelas at the 2018 World Cup

Way back in 2010, we told World Cup fans about how to reduce the annoying sound of vuvuzelas while streaming games online. The most-watched tournament in the world is back, and so are the vuvuzelas. Fortunately, there’s still a great and easy solution for enjoying World Cup 2018 in relative peace: VuvuX.

Hear the Difference

Fortunately, in the twenty first century, better living through audio processing is possible. The free VuvuX plugin was released by the now-defunct Prosoniq way back in 2010, to help with this very problem. You can easily hear the difference with this clip:

In this recording, the Vuvux plugin was toggled twice (right after “evening” as well as near the end), and the difference is incredible. Using Vuvux, you can cut down on background noise and actually hear the commentary.

Downloading and Installing

The original site for the VuvuX plugin is no longer online, and the plugin seems to have been abandoned. We’re re-hosting a copy of VuvuX, so that others can benefit from this orphaned work.

Click here to download VuvuX

Once you’ve download VuvuX, it’s a snap to install on your Mac. Just follow these steps:

1) Go to the Finder and click the Go menu in the menu bar. Select the “Go to Folder…” command.

2) Enter the following location into the field:

/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components

3) Move the VuvuX.component file to this folder.

That’s all you need to do to make the plugin available to all apps on your Mac that load Audio Units.1

Using VuvuX

The VuvuX plugin will work with any modern Audio Unit host on your Mac, but for removing audio from streamed games, we recommend our own Audio Hijack. Once you’ve installed it on your Mac (as explained above), restart Audio Hijack. You’ll then find VuvuX in the “Audio Unit Effects” section of Audio Hijack’s Library. Add the plugin in the middle of any audio chain, and it will adjust your audio.2

Above, you can see VuvuX being used to adjust audio streaming through Safari, quieting the vuvuzelas then playing the audio out to the Mac’s internal speakers. That’s really all it takes. Happy listening!


Footnotes:

  1. If you’d like to install the plugin solely for your user, it can alternately be placed in ~/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/Components. ↩︎

  2. When first initialized, the plugin will send your web browser to the now-defunct vuvux.com. Unfortunately, this action is caused by the plugin itself, and can’t be prevented. ↩︎

On The Sad State of Macintosh Hardware

With Apple recently releasing their first developer beta of MacOS 10.14 (Mojave), we’ve been installing it on various test machines to test our apps. The inevitable march of technology means Mojave won’t install on all of our older hardware. There’s no shock there, but the situation is rather distressing when it comes to spending money to purchase new equipment. Here is the situation, as reported by the wonderful MacRumor’s Buyers Guide:

Buyer's Guide showing 'Don't Buy' on nearly all Macs

At the time of the writing, with the exception of the $5,000 iMac Pro, no Macintosh has been updated at all in the past year. Here are the last updates to the entire line of Macs:

  • iMac Pro: 182 days ago

  • iMac: 374 days ago

  • MacBook: 374 days ago

  • MacBook Air: 374 days ago

  • MacBook Pro: 374 days ago

  • Mac Pro: 436 days ago

  • Mac Mini: 1337 days ago

Worse, most of these counts are misleading, with many machines not seeing a true update in quite a bit longer. While the Mac Mini hasn’t seen an update of any kind in almost 4 years (nor, for that matter, a price drop), even that 2014 update was lackluster. The once-solid Mac Pro was replaced by the dead-end cylindrical version all the way back in 2013, which was then left to stagnate. I don’t even want to get started on the MacBook Pro’s questionable keyboard, or the MacBook’s sole port (USB-C, which must also be used to provide power).

It’s very difficult to recommend much from the current crop of Macs to customers, and that’s deeply worrisome to us, as a Mac-based software company. For our own internal needs, we’ve wound up purchasing used hardware for testing, rather than opting to compromise heavily on a new machine. That isn’t good for Apple, nor is it what we want.

Rather than attempting to wow the world with “innovative” new designs like the failed Mac Pro, Apple could and should simply provide updates and speed bumps to the entire lineup on a much more frequent basis. The much smaller Apple of the mid-2000s managed this with ease. Their current failure to keep the Mac lineup fresh, even as they approach a trillion dollar market cap, is both baffling and frightening to anyone who depends on the platform for their livelihood.

Given the incredibly sad state of the Mac lineup, it’s difficult to understand how WWDC could have come and gone with no hardware releases. Apple’s transparency in 2017 regarding their miscalculation with the Mac Pro seemed encouraging, but over a year later, the company has utterly failed to produce anything tangible. Instead, customers are still forced to choose between purchasing new computers that are actually years old or holding out in the faint hope that hardware updates are still to come. Every day, the situation becomes more dire.

Apple needs to publicly show their commitment to the full Macintosh hardware line, and they need to do it now. As a long (long) time Mac OS developer, one hesitates to bite the hand that feeds. At a certain point, however, it seems there won’t even be anything left worth biting.

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