Audio Issues on Apple Devices: What's Happening, and How I'm Fixing It

Many of you have encountered new audio-related issues in Strum Machine on Apple devices these past couple of months. In this video (transcript below), I share details on what’s going on and why, followed by my action plan for resolving the issues once and for all…


If you’ve been using Strum Machine on an iPhone, an iPad, or a Mac using the Safari browser, you may have run into problems with the sound cutting out, or seen error messages about audio issues.

I’ve been corresponding with a bunch of Strum Machine users about this recently, and first I want to say: I hear your frustration. I’m frustrated too. I’m really, really frustrated.

It would be one thing if this was happening in my code in Strum Machine, because then I could go find the bugs, and fix them, like I normally do with bugs. But in this case, it’s out of my hands, it’s in Apple’s hands, because when they released iOS 15 and Safari 15, they included a new version of the audio system that Strum Machine uses, and that new version has some really nasty bugs. Three in particular. One of them I was able to work around myself, but the other two are deep in the audio system where I don’t have any control.

I actually submitted a bug report to Apple about this, and to their credit, they quickly identified the issue and they were able to fix it in their code, so they say. BUT, then I learned that it could take months for that fix to make its way to our devices. And, there are no guarantees of course that all the issues will actually be fixed completely, so… that’s not great.

So when I learned this, I put a couple new plans into action, which I’m going to tell you about. The objective here is to resolve these issues for good, and hopefully within the next month or so, which will be likely a lot sooner than we’re going to get fixes from Apple.

So here’s what I’m going to do. For Macs… first of all, there’s already a pretty easy workaround if you’re having issues with Strum Machine in Safari: don’t use Safari, use a different web browser. Chrome and Firefox are a couple excellent browsers that don’t have any bugs that affect Strum Machine, and will solve all these issues if you’re OK with installing and using one of those [browsers], which is very easy and you can still use Safari for everything else (if you want).

For folks who don’t want to install a different web browser, I’m hoping to be able to offer a true standalone, downloadable Strum Machine app that you would use just like any other app, and which would not susceptible to any of these Apple bugs.

I just started working on this, so I’m not entirely sure how long it’s gonna take me to be able to deliver this. So, in the meantime, again, use Chrome or Firefox if you have any issues with Strum Machine on the Mac.

For iPhones and iPads, it’s a little bit trickier, because all of the web browsers that you can get from the App Store use Safari under the hood in iOS. So they all have the same bugs. And actually, the Strum Machine app that you can get from the App Store uses the same Safari browser engine under the hood, and so it’s got that same “web audio” system that’s got these bugs.

In order to be impervious these bugs, Strum Machine needs to use a different audio system, interfacing more directly with the operating system, which is what other apps like Spotify or Garageband and these big-name apps do. Now, that’s a daunting proposition for me because I’ve never done any [native] iOS development, and it’s a whole different ball game from the web development I’m used to, so it would probably take me months to get that together, which is longer than I want to take…

So instead, I’m hiring another developer, which I’m very excited about! He’s in Vienna, and he’s not only an experienced iOS developer, and really easy to get along with, but he’s also a musician! So that’s a plus… (and he’s also learning the banjo, so, “extra plus”…) More importantly, he’s built several music-related apps already, so he knows exactly what to do for Strum Machine. I feel really confident about this, that we’re gonna put together something that really works well.

We just signed the contract, and actually he’s going to be busy with another client until the end of the month, so I’m thinking maybe mid-December we’ll have a new version in the App Store? That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway. So it’s going to be a few weeks at least, but I will keep you posted – I’ll write updates on the forum, probably on the thread where this video is posted, and I’ll keep you apprised of the status of that project.

I’ll post updates on the forum thread that this video is on to let you know what the status is as the year marches on.

In the meantime, I hope that you’re still finding Strum Machine useful, and that you’re able to use it despite these issues.

I also wanted to mention that if you’re using a Bluetooth speaker, certain Bluetooth speakers seem to “bring this issue about” a lot more more than others, so if you have the option of switching to a different/secondary speaker for Strum Machine, that could make the issue not happen as often, so it’s worth a shot.

Also, if your practice time is really being affected by this, feel free to reach out to me, send me an email, and we can pause your subscription, or I give you a credit, or somehow make this right… because, you know, it’s not right for you to be paying for something you’re not able to use effectively. So we’ll figure that out.

Anyway, that’s the update. Thank you for watching, thank you as always for your support, and hopefully we’ll get this stuff resolved soon. To all my fellow Americans, have a happy Thanksgiving, and to everyone, have a nice safe holiday season… as we wrap up this year that I can’t believe is almost over already!

All right, take care guys. Bye.


Sorry to hear you’re having Apple troubles, Luke.
I use an iPad for practice and found last night that the icon and app did not work. I had recently downloaded the Apple “upgrade”.
As usual, they’ve unnecessarily changed the format and icons.
Why can’t they just leave things alone?
My “work-around” on the iPad, is to go to your site via Google.
It works. I’m using it now as I type.
My sympathy for the unnecessary inconvenience and work this has caused you.
Keep up the good work.

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I’m having warning about my bluetooth device not being supported when I use Strummachine. Restarting the app seems to resolve it.

FYI, as of last evening (Sunday) here in Australia, the Icon my iPad is back working, and fully functional again.

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Thanks for taking the time and trouble to explain this so fully and clearly, as well as for taking such a robust approach to fixing it. I have been delaying “upgrading” to iOS 15 but was just about to bite that bullet. I’ll now certainly be waiting for the Vienna Version before I do!

So having been generally burned by Apple Updates, I am not changing Big Sur to Monterey as everything currently works fine and why mess with success. I also rarely use Safari, and mostly by accident so appreciate the warning. For your consideration how about a version of Bluegrass in the Backwoods for the site.

I’ve posted the chords for the A,B and C parts of “Bluegrass in the Backwoods” on my Bluegrass/OT and Other Tune list. :wink:

I’ve been able to use it in FF on my iphone. Only problem is I have to set my phone not to go to sleep. not a big deal. I can also use the app with my headphones which I kind of like better than the speaker anyway because it sounds more like playing with a group. thanks for keeping us up to date.

Everyone: please update your Strum Machine app in the App Store (here’s a direct link). I just released the new version with a rewritten audio engine. :tada:

Let me know how it works for you! Thanks!

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