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macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
1,445
87
Norway
Is there a way to record a Mac's output? I've got a USB audio interface connected to my Mac Pro (sounds much better than the standard line output) but I'm not having any success in recording what I hear using Audacity. I believe I've tried all the input/output combinations I can think of.
i'm using OSX 10.11 El Capitan.
 

dataid

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2020
69
38
USA
Look at Rogue Amoeba’s software. They have several programs that do audio routing with the Macs Core Audio system that allow you to do what you want. The most general solution and expensive solution is Loopback. Download the trial and experiment with it so you understand the concept of what you can do with it to accomplish what you want. It has a great graphical interface. Their less expensive programs can do subsets of what Loopback does. One may be an off the shelf solution for you at a reasonable price for casual use.

As you are using an old Mac OS you might find their legacy program named Linein which works with your OS might also meet your needs. It was a free program but does not have an intuitive interface and can be difficult to setup properly.
 
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macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
1,445
87
Norway
Ouch! Those are expensive apps, though very nice looking!
I found their free (and discontinued) LineIn app (scroll down to "Retired applications" near the bottom). It doesn't look that complicated, but I haven't had any success in routing the Mac audio anywhere.
I actually found it here, at MacUpdate first, and in the comments someone says you don't need any additional software as the OSX built-in app "Audio MIDI setup" (in /Applications/Utilities/) can do this. I have no idea how though, and if this is true.
 
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macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
1,445
87
Norway
Dataid: I couldn't find out how to use LineIn to record the Mac's audio. Actually I'm not sure if it does anything other than what holding down the ALT key while clicking the "speaker" icon in the menu bar does (one of Apple's (well known?) "secrets"):
audio -menubar.png


BrianBaughn: I remember actually having used this several years ago (PPC Mac I think) but it was quite cumbersome. I gave it another go now, but it seemed overly complicated. Then I came across this AlternativeTo Soundflower page which mentioned among others BlackHole which is also free. It turned out to be just as complex as Soundflower IMHO but the instructions were clearer and easier to understand.

I suppose this whole re-routing thing is complex to begin with, so no wonder Rogue Amoeba is cashing in if they've managed to simplify the user interface for this.
Can someone explain what the "BlackHole 16 ch" option (and a similar option for Soundflower as far as I remember) is for? And what exactly does the "Audio MIDI setup" app do when you press the + button for "Create aggregate device" and "Create multi-output device"?
 
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dataid

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2020
69
38
USA
Dataid: I couldn't find out how to use LineIn to record the Mac's audio. Actually I'm not sure if it does anything other than what holding down the ALT key while clicking the "speaker" icon in the menu bar does (one of Apple's (well known?) "secrets"):
View attachment 902562

BrianBaughn: I remember actually having used this several years ago (PPC Mac I think) but it was quite cumbersome. I gave it another go now, but it seemed overly complicated. Then I came across this AlternativeTo Soundflower page which mentioned among others BlackHole which is also free. It turned out to be just as complex as Soundflower IMHO but the instructions were clearer and easier to understand.

I suppose this whole re-routing thing is complex to begin with, so no wonder Rogue Amoeba is cashing in if they've managed to simplify the user interface for this.
Can someone explain what the "BlackHole 16 ch" option (and a similar option for Soundflower as far as I remember) is for? And what exactly does the "Audio MIDI setup" app do when you press the + button for "Create aggregate device" and "Create multi-output device"?

You can set up to 16 audio channels using Blackhole, one for each of e.g. singer, guitar, bass, piano, etc.
Mac Core Audio is designed to handle multiple MIDI channels among its many talents.

Unfortunately common audio functions that casual users want to do are not exposed in the Mac user interface, e.g. audio routing for output recording, inter application audio routing, etc. I have used Soundflower, Jack, Linein and their interfaces are not function oriented. They have a high learning curve, they are not intuitive and have no user manuals to speak of.

Rogue Amoeba is charging what I would say are reasonable prices for programs that require much system knowledge, skill in programming and provide user documentation, maintainence and user support.

I spent many hours learning the freeware programs and making getting them to work often finding that they did not get revised and became inoperative when OS X changed. There are 3 papers which were written years about Core Audio by a sound engineer for his masters degree documenting the architecture of Core Audio and explaining how it all works. It takes many hours to just read and understand his papers on the design of Core Audio.

Generally speaking you have a choice of paying for someone else's expertise or spending hours of one's own time becoming an expert to master freeware which may have no to little documentation and often does not have continuity with Apple's OS X changes.
 
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dataid

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2020
69
38
USA
Ouch! Those are expensive apps, though very nice looking!
I found their free (and discontinued) LineIn app (scroll down to "Retired applications" near the bottom). It doesn't look that complicated, but I haven't had any success in routing the Mac audio anywhere.
I actually found it here, at MacUpdate first, and in the comments someone says you don't need any additional software as the OSX built-in app "Audio MIDI setup" (in /Applications/Utilities/) can do this. I have no idea how though, and if this is true.

I suggest you should download the trial version of Loopback even if you never intend to buy as it is expensive for casual use. It is is intuitive to use, you will see that it can do exactly what you want and it will give you an understanding of how audio is routed in the Mac's Core Audio system. It will help you understand what the freeware programs are doing through their interfaces which are quite different, not graphical and less intuitive but accomplish similar functions.
 
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macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
1,445
87
Norway
So the Rogue Amoeba apps aren't just pretty user interfaces for essentially the same thing as Soundflower, BlackHole etc.?

If they actually work better, are more intuitive and resulting in less time pulling your hair and wasting time with something which should be as easy as clicking on a new input I need to reconsider and see if they're worth their asking price after all.

I'll take you up on your suggestion and give the trial version of Loopback a go. I am a little confused though as several of their apps appear to do the same thing (re-route audio so I can record the Mac's audio, or a specific app's audio): Loopback, SoundSource, Audio Hijack and Piezo.
 
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BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
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Baltimore, Maryland
BrianBaughn: I remember actually having used this several years ago (PPC Mac I think) but it was quite cumbersome. I gave it another go now, but it seemed overly complicated. Then I came across this AlternativeTo Soundflower page which mentioned among others BlackHole which is also free. It turned out to be just as complex as Soundflower IMHO but the instructions were clearer and easier to understand.

I suppose this whole re-routing thing is complex to begin with, so no wonder Rogue Amoeba is cashing in if they've managed to simplify the user interface for this.
Can someone explain what the "BlackHole 16 ch" option (and a similar option for Soundflower as far as I remember) is for? And what exactly does the "Audio MIDI setup" app do when you press the + button for "Create aggregate device" and "Create multi-output device"?

I don't know why you're thinking that Soundflower is complex. All it does is add two inputs and two outputs ("Soundflower (2ch)" and "Soundflower (64ch)") to the Mac. I'm pretty sure the other software mentioned behaves in a similar manner.

In my case, if I want to record whatever is normally coming out of the speakers I switch my system sound output to "Soundflower (2ch)" and use Audacity to record that sound by setting the input of Audacity to "Soundflower (2ch)".

Of course, you won't hear the sound being played since it's not being routed to your speakers! If you want to hear it while you record, in the "Audio MIDI Setup" app create a "Multi-Output Device" and add both Soundflower (2ch) and your normal system audio out. Select the new Multi-Output Device as your audio out and you should hear it and it will be routed to Soundflower (2ch).
 
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dataid

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2020
69
38
USA
So the Rogue Amoeba apps aren't just pretty user interfaces for essentially the same thing as Soundflower, BlackHole etc.?

If they actually work better, are more intuitive and resulting in less time pulling your hair and wasting time with something which should be as easy as clicking on a new input I need to reconsider and see if they're worth their asking price after all.

I'll take you up on your suggestion and give the trial version of Loopback a go. I am a little confused though as several of their apps appear to do the same thing (re-route audio so I can record the Mac's audio, or a specific app's audio): Loopback, SoundSource, Audio Hijack and Piezo.

Hi SoundSource will NOT do what you want, I checked with Rogue Amoeba support. Start with Audio Hijack it is less expensive than Loopback and probably will be able to do all you want with it, including recordings.
 
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macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
1,445
87
Norway
Thanks for checking! That was kind of you :)
Yes, I see the price is lower (US$ 74 vs. US$ 88) but I'm still a little puzzled as to what the differences are between each app. I haven't gotten round to it yet, but I think I'll just download the trial versions and see.
 
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dataid

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2020
69
38
USA
Thanks for checking! That was kind of you :)
Yes, I see the price is lower (US$ 74 vs. US$ 88) but I'm still a little puzzled as to what the differences are between each app. I haven't gotten round to it yet, but I think I'll just download the trial versions and see.

From the USA the Rogue Amoeba website pricing for Audio Hijack is $59 and Loopback is $99. Interesting that you are seeing different pricing in Norway.

Starting with Loopback the difference is that is allows routing audio for multichannel setups between applications with no physical wires and can do so with multiple loopback modules. Loopback cannot store different setups as a session, record, broadcast or stream, schedule, meter, provide built in audio effects or signal processing that is included in Audio Hijack. I should also mention that both programs use the same ACE audio device which is used in Loopback to create one or more virtual audio devices. ACE is a low latency virtual device like Soundflower or Jack.

Audio Hijack and Loopback can be used together if you need to route audio through multiple applications or multiple channels and utilize the features of Audio Hijack. Start your trial with Audio Hijack I think it will do what you want and much more.

I have included three screenshots of different setups I made with Hijack and Loopback, the two images with the dark background were made with Audio Hijack.

The first setup uses Line In as the input device. The source for the Line In is the Line Out of a Sonos Connect. This setup allows me to adjust the volume, meter for proper signal level and optionally record to many different audio formats. one can even record simultaneously in different formats (not shown in this setup). The output can go to either the headphones or the speakers connected to the Line Out of my Mac Pro. Both output devices can be on at the same time if needed.

The second example is similar to the first except that it uses Safari as the audio source to record audio from Youtube or any URL.

The third setup on the light background uses Loopback and routes the audio from my Sonos Line Out to Line In to either my headphone or the B & O speakers attached to my Mac's Line Out. Loopback does not have metering, recording or session capability. Additional channel pairs could be added to accommodate another sound source e.g. microphone for voiceover which would also route to the output devices.
 

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macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
1,445
87
Norway
Thanks again Dataid! I appreciate the explanations and will have to look into this some more when I get the time.

Yes, if I click on the "Purchase" button for Audio Hijack it says US$ 74 ($ 59 + local taxes). I was wrong about Loopback though: the correct price from here is US$ 124 ($ 99 + local taxes). Quite a steep price IMHO but then again if it works well it might be worth it.
 
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