Sound Card Interface Recommendation for OS X

Discussion in 'OS: Mac OS' started by W5PLT, Nov 7, 2016.

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  1. W5PLT

    W5PLT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm getting the desire to delve into the digital modes, in particular, PSK31 and JT65. I have a Kenwood TS-2000 and are looking for a recommendation for a sound card interface for my radio and my MacBook Pro (El Capitan). I know there are Tigertronic's Signalink USB, West Mountain's Rig Blaster, and TimeWave's Navigator interfaces. I read the reviews on and on the internet in general, but, as usual, most reviews are MS Windows related.

    I am looking for any experiences using these products with a Mac from installation, usability, and product support.

    Thanks in advance,

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  2. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Be aware that there are some issues with OS X's USB sound stack, so any USB audio interface may have some issues. There have been a couple of threads here in the forum about those issues, with some work-arounds as well.

    I used to wholeheartedly recommend the Navigator, but have not done so in quite some time as they seem to have abandoned OS X: no updated drivers since LION and no signed drivers, thus forcing a workaround using the FTDI signed drivers and the old OS X Lion drivers. It works, but it isn't elegant. Despite repeated promises to deliver signed drivers, they never did; so I sold my Navigator and cut my losses.

    I can't recall, but believe there were some issues with the West Mountain drivers as well. I never used any of their devices so I never stayed up-to-date with it.

    The SignaLink USB is a good, basic device. It provides the audio connection and can trigger the PTT on the rig when sound output is detected. This is useful, but doesn't allow for rig control.

    Right now for the Mac, my recommendation for a sound card/rig control interface would be the microHAM USB III. Avoid the more expensive microHAM devices as they require helper programs; some of which are no longer in development (but they do still work). However, the USB III uses simple FTDI-based chips and is supported with drivers from FTDI. It is about twice the price of the SignaLink USB, but is a quality product.

    I now have a Flex 6500, so all of my audio and control is done over Ethernet, so I'm not quite as up-to-speed as I should be on the USB devices. However, I hope this helps you a bit.

  3. W5PLT

    W5PLT XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    Thanks for the information! It has help in my decision.


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