A bug in Chrome 77

We’ve identified a bug in Chrome 77 that means the browser struggles with some professional audio interfaces on the Mac. If you can’t hear the other person or see the meter moving, then this post has a fix for that specific issue.

You’re more likely to be affected if you’re on Mac, and have a large, professional audio interface. It’ll be an audio interface with more than 8 outputs, which is more than most. Don’t panic; small audio interfaces like the Scarlett 2i2 aren’t affected by this bug.

To see if you might be affected, select “Help” then “About Google Chrome”. Look for one of these versions:

  • 77.0.3865.75
  • 77.0.3865.90

If you’re affected by the bug then you won’t be able to hear any audio, or see the meter moving for audio coming in from the other party.

Right now, our recommended workaround for these specific problems on your Mac is to install Chrome Canary.

We’ve heard people are installing Canary in the hope it will fix some other problem they are having — this isn’t a general fix for all possible issues. Only do this step if you’ve identified you’re having the specific problem above.

We’re suggesting this because Chrome Canary sits along side your normal Chrome browser. That way you can use it only for Cleanfeed, and only as a temporary workaround until Google fix the bug; your regular Chrome will still be best for all the rest of your web browsing.

We aren’t seeing Windows affected by this bug (see the technical details, below), but as always contact us if you think you have different information.

Google have reported that the ‘proper’ fix of Chrome 78 will arrive automatically to all Chrome users from around October 22nd.

Technical details

When Chrome starts using your audio device for playback, it sends stereo audio out. Unfortuantely a mistake in the addition of a new piece of code to version 77 of Chrome means that if your hardware has more than 8 channels, and instead you get silence.

The actual problem is more complicated though, as most of our reports came from Mac users, but not all Mac users, and not Windows, or any another operating system.

We don’t see the effect on Windows because, as standard, it seperates out a large professional audio interface into smaller stereo ones. That means the browser only ‘sees’ a stereo audio interface from it’s point of view, and everything worked as intended. The behaviour on Mac is different because the operating system differs; here, Chrome ‘sees’ the full size of the audio interface. It’s this variation meant our sleuthing to work out what’s going on here had to be extra special.

Google keep an entry in their bug tracker where they explain (in quite some engineer’s terminology) their code fix and when it will arrive on your system.

It’s no fun to have Cleanfeed broken by a browser bug, especially when the workaround is so drastic. As always, we’ve got your back, so we’ll continue our dialogue with Google and post any updates here.