USB solution for taxed IMac

Hi all,
I’m hoping someone may have some advice for me. I am professor, now working from my home machine (a Late 2015 27inch iMac). This means that I have many devices inputting into the machine, including:

  • An Audioengine D1 Dac (for audio purposes)
  • A Blue Yeti Microphone
  • An HDMI Video Capture Card (for using my Sony A7 as a webcam)
  • A lightning cable for connecting IPAd for another device to stream while teaching
  • A stream Deck
  • Two external hard drives (one of which running backup).

As my machine only has 4 USB ports, I’m running some of these (the external hard drives) through a powered USB hub ( But this is still not enough. My problem is that several of these tools (the stream deck, the DAC, and the HDMI capture card, and the Blue Yeti) all seem to require direct USB input to work properly. Does anyone have a good solution to this? Is there a better USB hub I should be hunting down? Any advice greatly appreciated!

That is not a question to be answered easily and I am not 100% sure if my idea is a good one.

But I wonder if a good thunderbolt dock might be a solution. I might be mistaken, but those ports should identify themselves as different native ports. Then again, I might be totally on the wrong path here.

The thing is that the 2015 iMac has only Thunderbolt 2?!

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Interesting. I did fail to mention (!) that I have a free thunderbolt port. But, yes, the question is whether a thunderbolt 2 port will be enough to get things moving. I could certainly use a TB2-TB3 adaptor before picking up a TB3 dock…but would love to know if it is going to solve the problem before investing! Thanks for the suggestion.

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You may also be able to pick up a used Thunderbolt 2 dock inexpensively.

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I would ask whether the Yeti can work running through a USB to BlueTooth adaptor. That would free one of the USB ports.


I would definitely check with OWC to ask them about using that sort of Thunderbolt 2 adapter with a dock.

It also helps that OWC makes good docks, but I’d ask their advice even if you don’t buy from them (they have good USB-C docks, not sure about a USB-A dock).

Are you sure?

I suspect they would work fine with a powered USB hub. Have you tried that?

It is definitely worth a try. Also trying a different (powered) USB hub is an option. But…

There are USB audio devices that need a “real” dedicated USB port on the Mac in order to work properly. They might work when attached to a hub, but sometimes they won’t work, even when the hub is being powered. Some vendors of USB audio devices do even state that they do not support USB hubs. I have experienced that first hand with MIDI over USB. Sometimes, running audio through a USB hub works. Sometimes not. It does not work more often when multiple USB devices are being attached to the same hub. There are limitations to USB:

Audio is one of the reasons why Thunderbolt devices are being sold. They solve a lot of issues. In @Aroddick’s scenario I am not 100% sure though. It might be a good idea to ask somebody else like OWC as @tjluoma has suggested.

Agreed that may be true for the audio devices. I know for sure a StreamDeck can work on a powered USB hub; mine is set up that way. I suspect most hard drives will work that way also. Perhaps that will clear up enough room so the mission-critical audio devices can be connected directly by USB.

For sure! :slight_smile: If feasible, it definitely is worth trying to just use a powered USB hub for the non-audio devices and to use the native ports on the iMac for the audio devices. Thunderbolt Docks are great, but they are expensive. The hard drives should be totally fine with the hub - and regarding the StreamDeck you know definitely more than I do because I do not own one. :slight_smile:

@Aroddick OWC just sent this info about a current sale going on, I thought you might want to check it out

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Thanks all for your comments and suggestions. It could be my hub that is the problem ~ I have no issues with my hard drives, but it is the streamdeck/microphone/DAC that are causing problems. I think I’ll try using the TB 2-3 adaptor and picking up a Thunderbolt 3 doc. (I do have a newer 16" MacBook Pro that would benefit from such a doc even if I have issues with the iMac).

And in case anyone else arrives in this thread, I found this post useful:

FWIW I have found my Stream Deck to be extremely “touchy”. It really wants to be plugged in directly. It did not like even my OWC dock. It did not even like my CalDigit TS-3 Dock unless the dock is plugged into the right side of my MacBook Pro.

Its is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 or whatever the highest end is. It will only work with specific cables, etc.

If possible, plug in the Stream Deck directly.