USB Audio Interfaces: Mac vs PC Applications

If you’ve been reading here for a bit you’ll know that I like my Plantronics .Audio 615m headset. I heartily recommend the Plantronics .Audio lineup for people who need a headset for use with a soft phone.

Since back when this review was published I’ve heard a couple of times that people have had issues with the Plantronics .Audio line not working correctly on Mac systems. Most recently this comment was posted to the review:

Based on this review I bought a Audio 630M USB for use with Skype on my Mac. It didn’t work. I contacted Plantronics Help. They said the 630M is specifically designed (special Firmware) for MS Office and it won ‘t work on the Mac. The review doesn’t make this clear. They recommended the Audio 625 USB which I have now ordered.

Now I’ll admit that I don’t use any Mac systems around here so I can’t really speak to the Mac in detail, but I thought that the Plantronics .Audio products were generic USB audio devices to the host platform so they should work on both platforms. At least, that’s what I thought.

You may recall that Amy Huson, Director of Marketing at Plantronics, was our guest on a VUC call not long ago. I sent her an email inquiring about this matter. Here’s her response:

We support two different USB standards.  The behavior you described, the device behaves the same for all audio applications, is standard mic-speaker 201-301 enumeration.  We offer .audio 625 for that.  OCS certification requires a different USB enumeration as a telephony device which is a type 402 that gives priority to voice so it affects default settings.  That is what you get with the 630.

We are working on a whitepaper and trying to proactively explain the subtle difference.  But it is a pretty arcane topic that unfortunately becomes obvious only at the end user level.

So there are differences specifically because of the Microsoft OCS certification process. I guess that kinda figures. They (M$) have a way of messing things up, often unintentionally.

What I can tell you is that I’ve used my .Audio 615m under Windows XP and Windows 7 without any issues at all. I’ve used it with numerous soft phone and recording programs. Since my employer is not an OCS user that’s one application that I’ve not used.

Many thanks to Amy for taking the time to provide an answer. Rest assured that if that white paper ever emerges we’ll read it.