I need to record external sounds. I am not convinced that the newest Macbook's external cable can guarantee the best recording quality. Since the newest Macbook and/or Macbook air do not have 3.5mm line-in?

If is it possible to know how much data the connection loses.

  • As you can see for your self, they do not have the line-in plug. – Ruskes May 18 '15 at 23:20
  • They have USB which you can connect to line-in. I am interested here how much you lose sound in doing these conversions. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 May 18 '15 at 23:30
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    Line-in is a analog signal input. USB is not. – Ruskes May 18 '15 at 23:33
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    Maybe not, the new USB3 is very fast so the loss might be minimal AFIK. – Ruskes May 18 '15 at 23:37
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    By definition there will be an analog-to-digital conversion no matter what kind of plug you use. You're recording to a digital computer. – Stephen R May 19 '15 at 1:57

Here is my 2 cents worth on that topic.

Analog input (3.5mm jack) would go directly to the audio processor on your system and depending on the quality of the processor you will get some level of audio, but not the same as the audio line it self.

If you use Audio to USB now you might have additional signal loss due to USB been the converter to serial data before it arrives at audio processor. So with USB it is all depending on the speed of it, how fast can it transfer audio signal without loss.

I would say the new USB3 is very fast and one would almost not notice the loss in audio, certainty not detectable by human ear but with some equipment.

The Audio signal is one continuous amplitude and frequency form.

The digital would take that and to its best ability dived it in to 1 and zeros in the effort to mimic the analog one.

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Yes, so there will be loss of data when doing the USB and Apple conversion. So best one is to use analog.

You seem confused over the process here.

The analog-to-digital conversion is the important step, and it should be done as soon after the source as possible. The audio in/out port on any laptop is designed for speech over video calls, not music, and will have a very basic analog-to-digital converter.

If you want high-quality recordings, go to any pro audio supplier and buy a converter. You will have many options in a wide price range, all the way up to recording studio quality.

Once the audio signal is converted to digital there will be zero loss of quality while it moves over USB into the computer. That's the whole point of digital audio.

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You can record external audio with a breakout cable like this. But for best results, you should use a USB interface. I have this and it works great (and can be battery or USB powered).

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  • Have you measured what is the loss of sound quality through this USB and Apple new interface? – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 May 18 '15 at 23:30
  • I bet that would depend on the level of the audio? In any case, the audio jack is connected to the motherboard, so I assume the performance is identical to even the older MacBook pro's that have a separate audio input jack. – Alesh Houdek May 18 '15 at 23:38

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