MacMost Now 346: Sound Output and Input

Since your Mac can handle more than one audio device, it is important to know how to tell it which device to use for output and input. For instance, you can have external speakers and a USB headset, as well as several microphones. You can set this system-wide, or for individual applications like iChat, GarageBand, Audacity and Skype.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 346: Sound Output and Input.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's look at how to use the sound input and output controls on your Mac.
So you may have multiple audio input and output devices on your Mac. For instance, you could have speakers and a uSB headset. You could also have multiple mics, including the built-in mic on your Mac. So here's how to choose between them.
You want to go to the System Preferences and look for Sound. under Sound you have three tabs. We're just going to focus on the Output and Input tabs right now. So the Output tab, you've got a list of all the devices hooked up that can support sound output. So for instance, you've got the internal speakers, and you've also got line out, the external speakers. You can also have different things, like on my MacPro I've got a digital out. I also have a USB Fast Track, which is an audio device that supports both inputs and outputs, and this here is actually a USB headset. Now, you can select any one of these and then you can also set the balance and the output volume. You can also select to show the volume in the menu bar, which puts that little icon up in the upper right corner of your Mac screen that allows you to control the volume directly from there without having to go to these preferences.
Now the Input section looks similar. I've got a list of devices here, so I've got line in, digital in, a Blue Snowball microphone, also the Fast Track device where I can hook up any external microphone to, and here's my headset. Below the list of inputs I've got one of the most important things, which is the input volume. So different devices are going to give you a different level. So for instance here I've got my Blue Snowball microphone selected, so I can adjust the volume here. I can see like this is too low and here I can put it up to maximum, since the mic's pretty far away from my mouth right now, but I could adjust it to the proper level. You want to kind of have it just a little bit above halfway when you speak at your loudest.
So if you set your output and your input, then you're all set for your audio, right? No, not quite, because some individual applications have their own settings. So, for instance, here I am in iChat. And I go to audio-video tab in iChat, and I can see at the bottom here I've got a list for microphone and sound output, and I can choose one of these. So I can choose something different than what I've chosen in the system preferences for both. Now I like the way Garage Band does it the best. You've got audio output and input in the Audio/MIDI tab in your Garage Band preferences. You can choose system setting, so it will obey your system preferences, or you can choose another device. Same thing for input.
Here's the popular audio editor Audacity, and in the preferences here, we have Audio I/O, and you can choose the playback device and the recording device. And here we are in the Skype preferences, and there's an audio tab in there as well, and you can choose an output device and an input device. You can even choose what output device you use for ringing.
Now, if you're an audio pro, and you want even more control over these devices, run the Audio MIDI Setup utility that's on your mac. You get a lot more control over the different devices.
A lot of times problems people have with applications like iChat and Skype is that the input devices simply are not set correctly. So knowing where these controls are can really help you.
I hope you found this useful. 'Til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 9 Responses to “MacMost Now 346: Sound Output and Input”

    9 years ago

    Gary, I’ve set up all the audio inputs the same way on my Mac, Skype and Snowball and yet, when I record a conversation, my voice is still much lower (even though the audio input volume is set to the highest level) than my guest’s voice when recording via skype. I use audio hijack and record the guest’s voice via standard mode hijacking and record my voice via hijacking the Snowball. Any reasons you can think of why audio from the Snowball is still recorded much lower?

    Killian Griffin
    8 years ago

    I have a bluetooth headset (motorola s9), but can’t get the computer to recognize it as input and output. I can get one or the other but not both, is there any way to fix this?

    — Killian

      8 years ago

      Have you tried contacting the maker? They must have some sort of support. It might just not support both on Macs or PCs. Hard to say without having it.

    jacob were
    8 years ago

    I have a phone with a bluetooth but it is not working.

      8 years ago

      What do you mean by “it is not working.” What are you trying to do? What are the steps you are taking to do it? And what is happening that is unexpected?

    John Chennell
    7 years ago

    I have headphones with mic. I can’t get the mic to work. Both have 3.5mm plugs and have them in the correct ports. I’ve tried the settings in both SOUND and SPEECH with no luck. Can you please help?

    chris Tarsitano
    7 years ago

    I have two microphones plugged in to my computer and both their inputs work fine but i can’t get them to work at the same time…

Comments Closed.