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Line In Passthrough in OS X

September 15, 2005 | Computers

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.

imageAfter 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?

13 Responses

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  • This was the kind of a problem I had when I was trying to record a podcast. When I wanted to record something on Skype, it was only recording either my side or their side. I couldn’t some how merge the two and get it into one stream.

    I used Line-In, and Sunflower to redirect another channel into the MIC channel. (Or something similar.) Later on, I bought AudioHijack Pro to use it along with the two applications to redirect and record things.

    Now, my answer is that I don’t think I know a way without using Line-In software. But I think, even though it was a bit painful, Line-In did the job. I was disappointed at the fact at the fact that Mac OS X wasn’t able to thread multiple audio streams from different inputs and outputs at the same time.

    Maybe Apple just use like OSS or ALSA type of application for their sound control software…

    Tom, September 15, 2005 7:48 pm | permalink

  • As for Googling, why don’t you Blingo-it and win with me? 🙂

    Tom, September 15, 2005 7:53 pm | permalink

  • I’m not buying into that Blingo thing. Something like that went around a few years ago and amounted to absolutely nothing.

    Shawn, September 16, 2005 5:21 am | permalink

  • I had this problem, too, during the summer. Line in, no go. Joey Sad. But now that I don’t need it, good to know ;P .

    And furthermore, YOU amount to absolutely nothing! In your face! Ohnoes!


    Joey B., September 16, 2005 12:59 pm | permalink

  • See, you’re wrong again. I’m worth $150/lb. on the black market.

    Shawn, September 16, 2005 1:27 pm | permalink

  • Oooooh, you’re so expeeeensive. You must be sauve. "Don’t you look smart?" …

    Joey B., September 16, 2005 1:33 pm | permalink

  • $150/lb? You’re cheap.

    As for the Line In thing, I’ve never thought about doing anything like that. I would have just used the headphones.

    CrabbyCakes, September 16, 2005 6:19 pm | permalink

  • I personally think wearing headphones at work or school is a bit rude. It sort of seems like he/she is trying to avoid talking to somebody; sort of like having a ear plug while somebody is trying to talk.

    [blingo]Yea, well, I didn’t expect you to sign up.[/blingo]

    Tom, September 16, 2005 6:35 pm | permalink

  • Yeah, I was specifically trying to get around wearing headphones.

    Shawn, September 16, 2005 6:40 pm | permalink

  • They may be rude… But you’re a conformist! You transparency go-wither! ;o

    Joey B., September 16, 2005 9:21 pm | permalink

  • Actually, around there, not wearing headphones is the non-conformist way. Even the VP of Technical Services wears headphones from time to time.

    Like Tom I think it is rude.

    I won’t budge on the transparency though – conform or be banned ;p

    Shawn, September 16, 2005 10:51 pm | permalink

  • I feel as though some people are saying "I don’t need to hear your worthless comments" when they are wearing headphones. So, I try not to wear them unless I want to sleep or read a book. Then, I really am saying I need to read this book so I need concentration.

    Tom, September 17, 2005 10:52 am | permalink

  • Ha! I find it amazing that I can be sitting here 10 YEARS into the future of this initial post and find I have the same problem written above! I also found “LineIn” after some googling yet i find that after 5 minutes I start to get static coming from the mic for no apparent reason, only fixable by a restart of the app. Very frustrating…

    Alan, December 30, 2014 2:22 am | permalink

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