The short version- instead of keeping our 2010 macbook pro, hooked up to a projector with a mac adapter and to the soundboard through the (intermittently evil and annoying) headphone jack, what should we get- the issue is the switch in the headphone jack getting stuck given the sheer number of people in and out of the booth and the number of times the 1/8" cable gets unplugged and plugged back in..
The long version- in 2003 or so Drew Dalzell of Wasted Monkey Sound (now Diablo Sound) in California built the school I worked for a dedicated sound playback PC with two hard-drives, a very lean installation of Windows, and a sweet 8-channel external soundcard locally made in Southern California. It was a work of art and it ran SFX.
Since then, QLab has become the goto, and private schools with nice theatres I've worked for increasingly have students playing music and showing videos and slideshows in assemblies, along with the normal sound cue and projection playback needs of the theatre program. I've done my best to manage last minute media coming to me via flashdrive or email or google universe link played on various phones and laptops via an 1/8" cable through the house system over the years, and I've learned a few things along the way, like streaming media off the internet (embeded vidoes in Google Slides presentations, music from Youtube, etc) is always a dicey proposition and all media should live on the harddrive of the computer from which it is being played because even a wired network connection can fail in front of an audience, and the headphone jacks on macbooks are very finicky (plus there is the issue of the noise you get if the laptop isn't plugged into power, or into the right outlet, or the volume is all te way up). And I will not use itunes for sound cues or music for plays.
I am not a fan of using a phone for live production support EVER, and can see a case for having a DESKTOP in a booth. So, I am open to suggestions, while I ask around for funding- to wit, if Drew (who no longer is the West Coast rep for SFX and has grown his company to where he no longer builds sound playback computers for people) were to suggest something t ome today, that could deal with sound, ppt, movies, projections, run QLab happily, ect, what would DREW DO (I am not in touch with him, or I'd ask HIM)?
Thanks for any insight, feedback, help. I want to retire our booth macbook as soon as I can before I tear my hair out because of the headphone jack!
Does the 2010 still have USB ports? From the reasonably priced Peavey to the pricier Radial and a few others, consider a bus-powered USB audio output interface. There is a thread here about "really long AUX extension" with several suggestions.
Also, BTW, we are light on speakers so multiple outs is not a huge issue- we have two speakers in the house and I ran a couple of monitors in the wings for dancers, but we don't separate out sound or send it to different outs, at least not now- the Echo Layla was frankly overkill, although I wish I had it now!
I think the USB output solution is your best bet if you want to stay with the Macbook. But if you are looking to use the PC with Windows, then Cue Player is a viable alternative to SFX, and I'm here as a contact.
As suggested, a good USB interface will allow you to continue to use the Macbook, and hence qlab, or, if you want to go to a windows machine ,(we've relatively recently gone from windows to a Mac) again, a decent USB interface and some dedicated cueing software such as SCS would be my suggestion, because I'm familiar with SCS.

We used to run our PC into a Behringer unit which gave us 16 outs, then we ran it directly into the mixing desk via USB, we now run the Mac directly into the Soundcraft desk using USB, so the Soundcraft appears as a bunch of input and output channels in qlab.
I ordered a Peavey USB-P late last night to try the suggested USB solution, which I did not know existed until last night! Thanks so much for all your help. Jumping on this board was the right thing to do.
Now for a new projector...
Good luck with the USB-P and I am sure you will enjoy it. As I stated in the other thread I had occasional issues with some computers (mostly older Dell laptops running older Windows OS's) wanting to disconnect from the Peavey USB-P and found it necessary to go back into Windows control panel to remind it what interface to use for output. It wasn't a difficult issue to fix and it happened only occasionally.
I know this thread is from a few days ago but thought I'd weigh in.
If the issue is there's continuing damage occurring to the laptop because of constant setup and teardown, consider rack mounting the audio interface in a small lightweight rack. Then add a panel on the back of the rack with your XLR and USB connectors jumpered through, then you'd plug the laptop's usb port in there. Better yet, you could also rackmount a Mac Mini.

The strain that occurs on that poor headphone jack is super common on all devices but more often on portable devices. The laptop is on the desk, gets pushed aside to fit the script or something gets bashed into it. The same thing will happen to the USB connectors after a few hundred bumps and bruises. Of course there are multiple USB ports so it extends your lifespan.

I have one laptop that gets "loaned" that only has 1 remaining working USB port and magsafe. Would hate to know what terrible shape that macbook would be in if it was a modern mac with those oh-so-useful USB C ports and no doggone magnetic charger.

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