The Gippy Pages


Line In Passthrough in OS X

Sep 15, 2005 | Computers | By Shawn Parker

I was really kind of upset today to find out that I couldn’t easily pass audio through from my line in to the built in speakers on my PowerBook. I was at work and plugging away in the Lab which means I’m working on my Mac since there is no outside access to the lab via the network. Since all my music resides on a server at home and my upstream bandwidth really stinks (that finger is pointed at you Comcast) streaming from the home server wasn’t really an option. I figured it would be easy enough to just plug into the line in and let it pass through the built in speakers.



One of the reasons I didn’t want to use iTunes at all was that it would try to sync with the iPod if I hooked it up normally. That would have invoked a long drawn out process of changing preferences or waiting for connections to time out since all the music it would be trying to sync is far, far away. Plus, simply using the line in should be easy, right?

Since I am going to be in the lab for a few days I wanted to get this working. The servers drone away in there and some tunes would have been nice. I didn’t want to put on headphones because I view that as being rude while at work.

Step 1, find a way around it

So, still in disbelief that I couldn’t do it I started looking for a way to jury rig something, and I found one. I have Quicktime Pro so I was able to open a new audio recording session, not hit record, and turn up the input volume to listen to the line in.

While this worked, it was a bit of a weird thing to do if I wanted to do this regularly.

Step 2, Google it

I looked around, halfway expecting to find a way around this at everyone’s favorite OS X hacking site Mac OS X Hints but found nothing. I was starting to get disappointed that there was no built in way to simply pass the audio through to the speakers. There was in OS 9 and this was on a Mac, supposedly the easiest OS out there. I’d think that this would be a no brainer feature.

old-timey microphoneAfter looking around a bit more I did find a little utility to take care of it. Rogue Amoeba makes a nice little ditty named LineIn that solved the problem. With one click (ok, 3 if you count launching the program) I was listening to my iPod through my laptop.

Still not completely happy with it

I’m still wondering, though, why there was no easy way to do this with OS X. Does anyone out there have any other ideas for how this might be accomplished. ie: without 3rd party software?

Tagged as: audio, hint, itunes, line in, os x, passthrough, powerbook, quicktime, roque amoeba