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Ever since the release of the New™ iPad Pro models I've been receiving bug reports from readers experiencing odd headphone audio latency in music apps. This latency starts off small, and grows rapidly over time into a debilitating delay! This coincides with an odd digital noise from the headphone output on the new iPad Pros.

Apple Doesn't Care About Music Apps

Some adventurous members of the community updated to the iOS 11 beta and reported that this had solved their problems. So I didn't bother reporting on it; partly because I hoped iOS 11 would solve the problem for everyone, but mostly because me reporting on anything Apple is doing is like pissing into an oncoming wave and expecting that to stop the tsunami. In September, with the release of iOS 11, we discovered that this it did not fix the problem. So here I stand on firm ground with my fly open.

In addition to the latest iPad Pro models, we are now getting reports that iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models are also affected by the noise issue... which is surprising since they don't even have a built-in headphone jack!

You can read through the horror stories on the Audiobus forum, and also on Apple's User Discussion forum. Lots of people have tried a lot of different "fixes" but these tend not to be a full solution for all users. Several users reported that they have less noise on hardware interfaces if they change the samplerate from 48k to 44.1k in their apps. And some users report this also fixes the noise issue on the headphone jack.

It Just Works

This has been an ongoing issue, with reports from users dating back to July, but Apple has yet to make any official statement on the matter. This despite some big names weighing in on the official Apple forum, like YouTuber Cuckoo. I would say that their silence was disappointing, but that would imply that I held some other expectation. After living in Apple's world for the last 6+ years, I have no such expectation. "It just works..." except when it doesn't. Then you're just fucked.

Let's Keep Kicking the Can Down the Road

iOS 11.1 beta 2 reportedly fixes these issues, at least on new iPad Pros. From the patch notes:


Resolved Issues

  • Fixed an occasionally occurring issue with audio latency or distortion on iPad Pro (12.9- inch) (2nd generation) and iPad Pro (10.5-inch). (33844393)

So perhaps we'll finally see a solution whenever iOS 11.1 arrives... Let's just hope it also fixes any iPhone 8/X issues while it's at it.

Reader Comments 14

For some reason when I use this TRRS iRig 2 to bridge to my headphones, I don’t get the latency. Don’t know why, but I’d really rather just plug my headphones straight in. And yeah, why did they not test this with their very own GarageBand and headphones, wtf!!
October 12, 2017  | person_outline Dan
New update today 11.0.3 seems to have fixed periodic distortion but I think latency is still around after some testing this afternoon I only really use samplr for any length of time and the latency when it occurs in samplr is quite suttle so not sure though.
October 12, 2017  | person_outline Guy
Hahaha. I love this story news title and even tho I doubt apple will do anything to remedy the situation this article made me feel better so thanks Tim!
October 12, 2017  | person_outline Harison Zamperla
LOL! I'm glad you like it. Your email was the one that broke the camel's back and made me finally do this post.

Bradley C was the first to bring it to my attention, along with some good reference links and additional information, so shout out to him too if he reads this!
Good work Tim. Hope it helps solve the problem!
October 13, 2017  | person_outline Bram Bos
Guess I'm glad I bought the first generation iPad Pro. Stuff is supposed to get BETTER in following revisions, but Apple seems to be making things worse... mostly it's the OS bloat, but still...
October 13, 2017  | person dysamoria
Is it specific to the A10 chip? There's been a bunch of glitchy stuff with games not running at the correct speed and other nonsense, but only with iOS 11 on models with A10 chips.
October 13, 2017  | person DavidF
I purchased a 12.9 iPad Pro which had iOS 10.3.3 installed and haven’t experienced any latency or digital noise in the couple of days since I purchased it. Installed iOS 11.0.3 yesterday and didn’t experience any latency or digital noise. I will be extensively testing the next few days and report back my findings.

I will say I found the Apple Store employees to be more discouraging than helpful as they had not heard of these issues with this year’s iPad Pro models. There were no employees who had any experience with iOS music creation so they had me talk to someone who made music using MacOS who proceeded to try and sell me on that approach. He reminded me of a shady used car salesman who tried to minimize my concerns without even bothering to find out about my information on this issue. He attributed the problems to user error where people were using outdated apps that weren’t compatible with iOS and the new iPad pros. The only reassuring aspect of the experience was Apple’s 14 day return policy.
October 13, 2017  | person PLU Collective
There must be people at Apple who know about this stuff, but you won't find them at the stores. I had somebody tell me I wasn't "allowed" to use the USB adapter for music - only pictures. Went to a seminar once held by someone who was much higher-up than the store people and who was going to talk about music apps. It turned out to be NoteStar - that Yamaha app you can use to download expensive sheet music from Yamaha. Tried to show him what I thought would be some well-known synth apps afterwards, like iMS-20 and Animoog, and he looked at me like I had tapeworms.
October 13, 2017  | person DavidF
I did find my less than a week old 12.9 iPad Pro updated from iOS 10.3.3 to iOS 11.0.3 was easily able to recreate audio glitching related to GUI animation changes. The same setup on my iPad Air 2 did not have these glitches. Using the accessibility settings to reduce the frame rate to 60 fs did not eliminate the audio glitches either.

October 15, 2017  | person PLU Collective
„So here I stand ... with my fly open.“
Next to it it says something with fuck in big letters
lol, naughty boy
October 15, 2017  | person lala
What is worrying is that the problem has got this far. In the past Apple seemed to take music creation on iOS more seriously, even running adverts showing this. I hope we don't have a change of mentality at Apple similar to Android where the audio team were well aware of the shortcomings but did not have the power to make it first class because the graphics and touch latency overruled it.
With iOS 11 and the AU improvements we now have full desktop capability in iOS. We really could now be on the verge of iOS moving from the enthusiast market to mainstream for audio production. But problems like this are going to put a lot of people off.
October 16, 2017  | person_outline Mark
October 16, 2017  | person Nonny Moose
Now that I think about it:

The iPhone 7 was really deliberate crippleware foisted off on Apple consumers-at-large and musicians specifically - removing the analog audio jack without having a way to simultaneously charge, monitor, and plug in a MIDI controller [via their proprietary and not modestly-priced camera kit adapter, sold separately] - translates in literal terms to a subtraction from advertised I/O specs.

Now that the latest/costliest beasties support wireless charging it’s less of a liability for them; surely there’s an adapter they’re happy to sell you which allows charging + camera kit MIDI controller support. Oh, and maybe a pair of laggy lo-fi Beats Bluetooth headphones for monitoring just so they can say it wasn’t impossible so hey no blame for Cook & co.

But honestly iPhone 7 owners like myself should have serious reason to review why they chose the “it just works” brand at this point besides Android’s [still] ridiculous latency. There’s a major disconnect between mothership Cupertino and the peasant bards whose cred they seek without actually hearing or acknowledging the same.

Maybe it’s better to get an old GSM phone for calls and then something else for mobile music making that doesn’t pull this bullshit… or, I don’t know, doesn’t track me all day long to help advertisers try and game me to add insult to injury.
October 19, 2017  | person Nonny Moose

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