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I own a late 2013 iMac 27". The following setup worked for months until yesterday:

The 3.5mm port is connected to a Y-Adapter, the adapter let me use two headsets at once. I use my headset and my stereo (which as new mic and only is for output) on the ends. In-between headset and y-adapter I use a 5 meter extension cable. That worked very fine the last few months.

Yesterday my friends reported my mic sound is bad and they hear my keyboard while talking. I checked and saw that the mic from my headset was no longer recognized within the audio settings. Sound itself works fine on the headset, as well as on my stereo. I rebooted, nothing changed.

The (bad) solution was plugging in my headset directly to the build in 3.5mm port. External microphone shows up in the settings. Testing the long extension cable and the Y-adapter I came to the conclusion both work fine. It is very unlikely that on both cables the mic channel broke at the same time.

I tried my (never touched before) headsets from my iPhone and my HTC, both only work when directly plugged in, but not over one or both cables.

Directly plugged in headset sound far worse then over the previous setup. According to my friends, which hear me everyday via TeamSpeak.

The only thing I did with audio was to have a Skype session in the night (I usually don't use Skype). I read now that skype + OS X sometimes lead to missing microphones, but only within the Skype App, not affecting the system input. So I assume that this is not related to my issue.

The setup is sadly pretty unique.

Anyone experienced similar issues or have any suggestion on how I can fix?

If it matters, here is the extension cable and the y-adapter on (German) Amazon.

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Based on this statement in your question:

The (bad) solution was plugging in my headset directly to the build in 3.5mm port.

This tells me you didn't have good results going directly from headset to iMac audio plug.

Directly plugged in headset sound far worse then over the previous setup. According to my friends, which here me everyday via TeamSpeak.

Which is confirmed by this statement.

Testing the long extension cable and the Y-adapter I came to the conclusion both work fine. It is very unlikely that on both cables the mic channel broke at the same time.

This is absolutely correct. Cables will last a long time if you don't abuse them. You would know if your cable was giving you trouble and you didn't indicate it here.

Unfortunately, your iMac audio port may be bad.

Your audio cable plugging into the back of your iMac looks something similar to the image below. Each one of the contacts is a "spring loaded" contact that pushes against the plug. In effect, it is a mechanical component and prone to failure at some point. Alternatively, you may have a bad solder joint on the audio jack's connection to the logic board. It's impossible to know unless you have it diagnosed by a technician.

enter image description here

After doing some searches around the Internet, it seems the the audio port for the iMac 27 (2013) is still separate from the logic board, but for whatever reason it's not availabe in the aftermarket yet.

Looking at the the back of the iMac, we see it's to the left of the SD card reader.enter image description here

However, looking at the logic board, it's not physically attached:

enter image description here

(images courtesy of ifixit.com)

This gives me hope that you can have it replaced by Apple or an Authorized Service Center. Hopefully, soon, it will be available for order on the secondary market because this is a very easy DIY project.

The other options is that you could switch over to USB and/or Bluetooth headsets. Going USB would probably be the easiest way to go.

You mentioned that you have it connected to a stereo. I am personally using Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface to hook my iMac up to my Bose Wave Radio.

enter image description here

  • Thank you for that detailed answer. "Unfortunately, your iMac audio port may be bad." I'm wondering why the headset works directly plugged in, the signal should be the same whether it comes from the extension cable or directly from the headset. Unfortunately I'm depended to my mac for work, sending it is not a option. I'll sort out some external USB devices to fit my needs, thank you for your suggestion on the Behringer interface. – noisy May 17 '16 at 20:18
  • The reason I say that the port might be bad is because it is the only component that is consistently giving problems. It has a bad connection with the headset connected directly and no connection with the cable/headset plugged in. – Allan May 17 '16 at 20:26
  • That does make sens :) – noisy May 17 '16 at 20:45
  • I did a lot of reconfiguring the setup with a friend of mine, who has a better understanding of technical audio. Problem evolves around either the Y-Adapter or the cable connected to the stereo. First of all input the headset trough cable extension (and y-adapter) startet working again. If I plug two headsets to the y-adapter I got the input from both an my mac (of course as just one line in), if i unplugged the second headset and plugin the stereo the mic from the headset will stop working. The stereo ist block the mic, I think the y-adapter is broken. At least those are cheap. – noisy May 17 '16 at 21:53
  • Give that a shot first...it's super cheap to test! – Allan May 17 '16 at 22:32

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