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Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
#2901677 10/18/19 02:28 PM
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Good morning all,

First post here! Decided it's been long enough lurking and introduce myself. smile

I currently use the Garritan CFX on my MacBook Pro and love the sounds. I'm still researching what speakers to get but wanted to ask about using headphones. The sound from my MacBook is low when using the VST, even with full volume in both the system and the program itself. Do people usually run this through an DAC or amp first when using headphones? Not sure what I should get to help achieve higher sound.

Thank you for any help anyone can provide!

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2901680 10/18/19 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by JamesR73
Good morning all,

First post here! Decided it's been long enough lurking and introduce myself. smile

I currently use the Garritan CFX on my MacBook Pro and love the sounds. I'm still researching what speakers to get but wanted to ask about using headphones. The sound from my MacBook is low when using the VST, even with full volume in both the system and the program itself. Do people usually run this through an DAC or amp first when using headphones? Not sure what I should get to help achieve higher sound.

Thank you for any help anyone can provide!

A headphone amp will do it. A DAC usually has a headphone amp in it, if you want to go that way. Sort of depends on what you want to accomplish and what headphones you have. What brand/model do you use?


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
Tyrone Slothrop #2901689 10/18/19 02:44 PM
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For the DP, I got a Roland FP-90. Love the feel!

For headphones, I have Sennheiser's HD 650.

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2901699 10/18/19 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by JamesR73
For the DP, I got a Roland FP-90. Love the feel!

For headphones, I have Sennheiser's HD 650.

HD650's, like my HD800, have 300Ω impedance. That's pretty high, while the sensitivity is 105.1 dB/V SPL, which is lower than average. That's why it sounds soft to you. You'll want either a DAC or headphone amps.

Audiophiles would probably go for the DAC+headphone amp option (referring to a DAC with an integrated headphone amp, not two separate components), while non-audiophiles might argue you won't hear the difference of an external DAC. So in the end, you should go listen to a few and pick what you want.


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2901710 10/18/19 03:14 PM
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Thanks! I've been looking at some DACs and amps, and leaning towards Schiit's Lyr (would go really well with listening to music as well). Much appreciated sir smile

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2901726 10/18/19 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JamesR73
I currently use the Garritan CFX on my MacBook Pro and love the sounds. I'm still researching what speakers to get but wanted to ask about using headphones. The sound from my MacBook is low when using the VST, even with full volume in both the system and the program itself. Do people usually run this through an DAC or amp first when using headphones? Not sure what I should get to help achieve higher sound.


IMO, Garritan CFX does have low output on Macs. I run CFX with close mics near max volume (note that the CFX developer, who frequents this board, suggests not doing this), and ambient mics to whatever volume you prefer, turn off Limit, and no EQ adjustments. On the Macbook set the output volume to high. This gets CFX to an appropriate volume for me (but system sounds that play through the headphones then become shatteringly loud). You can certainly use an external audio interface or headphone amp to adjust volume as well (I didn't because I just wanted as clean/basic a setup as I could get away with).


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
Tyrone Slothrop #2901748 10/18/19 04:44 PM
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A laptop doesn't have the power to run those headphones properly.

So one alternative is to buy some less power hungry headphones (you can search the PW threads for ideas like the 99$ Sennheiser 559, or pay a lot more for the essentially identical 599).

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/2754627/Searchpage/1/Main/188982/Words/%2Bsennheiser/Search/true/re-sennheiser-headphone-advice.html#Post2754627

If you just want a headphone amp (or a combined DAC/amp), this guy runs some tests and recommends some cheap options. He was a Microsoft engineer so this is a bit different from reviews paid for by the manufacturers.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?reviews/

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2901754 10/18/19 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JamesR73
Thanks! I've been looking at some DACs and amps, and leaning towards Schiit's Lyr (would go really well with listening to music as well). Much appreciated sir smile

Hey man, that's some really good Schiit!. Yeah, the Lyr would be good. I actually just got one of their Bifrost for my replacement Media PC. Just be aware there is a bit of controversy about their gear that was started by ASR.


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
newer player #2901756 10/18/19 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by newer player
this guy runs some tests and recommends some cheap options. He was a Microsoft engineer so this is a bit different from reviews paid for by the manufacturers.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?reviews/

Just be aware that while Amir Majidimehr has an electrical engineering education/background, most of his career was in IT management. He was never an audio engineer until he retired from Microsoft and decided he would be one. There are some who claim he is not using his lab equipment properly.


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2960764 03/26/20 04:38 PM
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I just bought CFX Lite yesterday and really love the sounds. But im also having issues with the low volume output on my Mac Mini 2018. I need to turn the volume in the CFX player to the max and turn up the volume on the computer really high to get a decent output. This, of course, makes all the computer sounds really loud (like receiving an e-mail for example).

I have tried the demo of Pianoteq and have no issues with the volume so this really seems to be an issue with garritan.

Anyone, that knows a solution to this?

Last edited by Boboulus; 03/26/20 04:39 PM.
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2960765 03/26/20 04:49 PM
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Indeed, it’s quiet on my Mac Mini too. Depending on the headphones it can be way too quiet. I wouldn’t recommend increasing the gain slider inside the Garritan app though, since it can lead to clipping. I use a USB headphone amp (Apogee Groove) that’s set at just a bit under max volume to have a satisfying volume with the 300-ohm HD650s.

Last edited by CyberGene; 03/26/20 04:54 PM.

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Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2960768 03/26/20 05:01 PM
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Ok, thanks for the advice about the gain slider. I haven't heard any clipping yet so I have to see. If I'm not setting it to 0db it's way to quite. I'm also playing through the speakers on my DP so a headphone amp won't do me any good I'm afraid? But im getting the exact same volume with my headphone (audio technica ath-m50x) and via the speakers.

I have my Mac Mini plugged with USB to my P-515 so that I don't need a lot of cables (this was the goal).

Anyone, that knows why Garritan has such a low volume?

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2961841 03/30/20 10:32 AM
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I got some advice that I could loud CFX lite into a DAW. I can use garageband or ableton 10 lite that I have a licens for. Not sure with one is best, anyone have any opinions here?

But there I should be able to make the volume higher. I will have to try and see.

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2961906 03/30/20 12:30 PM
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I just crank up the master volume on my MBP and the gain in Garritan CFX (and disable Limit) and I don't get any distortion or clipping at all; I know this isn't the recommended path by the Garritan developer, but it works fine for me and I don't need any additional hardware....shrug...

Macs are among the more consistent of hardware so it may work for you, but if not there are other options such as external mics.

One thing -- if you crank up the master volume, make sure you drop the volume on system sounds and notifications smile


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
Gombessa #2962002 03/30/20 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Gombessa
I just crank up the master volume on my MBP and the gain in Garritan CFX (and disable Limit) and I don't get any distortion or clipping at all; I know this isn't the recommended path by the Garritan developer, but it works fine for me and I don't need any additional hardware....shrug...

Macs are among the more consistent of hardware so it may work for you, but if not there are other options such as external mics.

One thing -- if you crank up the master volume, make sure you drop the volume on system sounds and notifications smile


Yes this is what I'm doing now and it works ok but it's not the best solution and should just be able to have a higher volume natively from the CFX player. As it is right now I have to set youtube at the lowest volume and only one small pixel movement of the youtube volume slider makes it to loud and the piano teaching app I'm using also has issues with some parts that can't be lowered making it to loud.

It's manageable but an annoyance. I will try to see if I can make it work via a DAW.

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
Boboulus #2962006 03/30/20 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Boboulus

Yes this is what I'm doing now and it works ok but it's not the best solution and should just be able to have a higher volume natively from the CFX player. As it is right now I have to set youtube at the lowest volume and only one small pixel movement of the youtube volume slider makes it to loud and the piano teaching app I'm using also has issues with some parts that can't be lowered making it to loud.

It's manageable but an annoyance.


Yeah, that's a valid point. My MBP is (was) a dedicated CFX station, so I could have odd master volume settings without impacting much. But if you're doing anything else with it, it makes sense that you want a more general solution that doesn't screw up the settings for everything else on the machine.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
JamesR73 #2962012 03/30/20 06:04 PM
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I have a dedicated MBP for my two VSTs. CFX lite and Ivory II ACD. The CFX player is about 4db below max volume. It also doesn’t help that I have dynamics turned up quite high, not at max but close and that quietens CFX further.

My MBP system volume is about one stop below max.

I have set the gain on Ivory II ACD to match Garritan so I can switch standalone player easily.

I use Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack app to do recording instead of using a DAW. It captures the sound output from the standalone players and has it own amplifier control. This makes recording from either of the standalone players trivial.

So yes CFX lite and I am also guessing full are problematic with their output volume but it is manageable.

Re: Low Volume with MacBook Pro/Garritan CFX Full
Gombessa #2962013 03/30/20 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Gombessa
I just crank up the master volume on my MBP and the gain in Garritan CFX (and disable Limit) and I don't get any distortion or clipping at all; I know this isn't the recommended path by the Garritan developer, but it works fine for me and I don't need any additional hardware....shrug...
There is something wrong with that limit button so definitely disable it.

Garritan's Jeff H noted here that we should not be moving those gain sliders up much inside the player; I think that increases chances of ugly digital clipping. If you want both higher volume and best audio quality, I think the better option is an external interface-headphone amplifier.


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