Is it possible to somehow tap in to sound output and send it via network to another machine. Formats probably are incompatible, but I would appreciate even on some information on how to tap in to audio on Mac OS X!

10 Answers 10


I was working on a good solution to this earlier this year, but haven't gotten the best way.

The first piece you will likely need is Soundflower. This will let you take the digital-out of your Mac, and loop it to a new digital-in source.

The piece I'm missing is the best way to broadcast a digital input to another machine.

It is probably possible to do this via ESounD, Pulse, or Jack, but I am not familiar with implementations of those, and this hasn't been my highest priority.

Another route I was considering was using VLC, to somehow source the Soundflower as though it were line-in or mic input, and publish an audio stream, then connect to this stream from Ubuntu, i.e. at

However you arrive at it, I hope that this answer has helped you fit one piece of this puzzle.

  • Thanks for the link to Soundflower ... See, now I'm thinking of some legitimate uses (for myself) for this; at least, for Soundflower. Too bad I'm not a Mac. Must consult the great Oracle for something similar for Winders or Linux.
    – Adrien
    Aug 19, 2009 at 19:40
  • PulseAudio supports linux and native win32 and you can probably configure it work like this. I can't find mac port of PulseAudio, but just older version called esound, which might work with PulseAudio. Thank you mpbloch!
    – JtR
    Aug 20, 2009 at 6:03
  • If you go the VLC route, the input URL you want is qtsound://SoundFlower:0. If that doesn't work use qtsound:// to grab the default (likely the mic) and see the message log for a list of alternative qtsound:// inputs.
    – RobM
    May 5, 2012 at 15:57

If you're looking for a nicely packaged solution then I you want Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil software for doing this sort of thing. I use it from Mac to Mac (it uses Soundflower under the covers, for part of the trickery, but also their own "Instant Hijack" to grab audio from already-running applications) and it works very well.

There are Airfoil Speakers-only applications available for free for Mac, Windows, Linux and iPhone, plus it can send audio to an Airport Express.


Update for searchers:

Look at shairport-sync, you can run this on Linux/Ubuntu to setup an Airplay server that is happily recognized by OSX, and you can configure a number of backends to deal with the audio it receives, such as sending it to the speakers on the Linux/Ubuntu end.


You want Wormhole: http://code.google.com/p/wormhole2/

Binaries for OSX and Windows are available... Have not tried in a Linux environment but I imagine it would work in vsthost.


Nicecast by Rogue Amoeba will do that for you. It costs, but not much. US$40. They have a trial version. I'm unsure of the trial's limitations.

Icecast is a free option, but it lacks the out-of-the-box niceness of Nicecast.


With XBMC installed on a Linux machine and without any other software on my Mac, I can stream anything I want (I run it under Debian so it should work also under Ubuntu).

To do this:

  1. Configure XBMC as an Airplay receiver : go to System > Services > Airplay and enable Airplay (I do not use password)
  2. On your Mac, Open Audio Midi Setup
  3. Right click on the Airplay item on the left side and choose “Use this device for sound output” from the Action pop-up menu.

Now, anything you play on your Mac should output to your Airplay device.

To reverse back to normal output (e.g. on a MacBook), right-click on another output (e.g. the standard speaker or integrated output) and choose “Use this device for sound output” from the Action pop-up menu.

See also : Audio Midi Setup: Set up your audio devices


If you're not tied to any particular audio application at the Mac end, I suggest using VLC Media Player. It could function as the Macintosh's music player and playlist repository, the Mac's digital audio streamer, and the streaming audio receiver/player for the Ubuntu system powering the good speakers.

There are advantages to using VLC besides avoiding the need to combine the functions of several programs. Because VLC offers pre-compiled binaries for operating systems from BeOS to Zaurus, as well as source code for (nearly) everything else, you could easily adapt to future changes in OS or hardware setups without having to worry about compatibility. Moreover, VLC can play every format you're likely to have on hand -- or likely to have ever heard of, for that matter.


solution using sunflower + esound:



If you're looking to stream your audio files, there's a billion methods. Sounds like, however, you have a specific source of audio you want piped out. Could you elaborate on that?

  • I want to relay everything that the mac system would play on it's speakers by itself. It would be like new set of speakers.
    – JtR
    Aug 20, 2009 at 5:55

It sounds like you're asking if it's possible to transmit the rendered audio across a network.

Not without another A/D conversion, and some way to pass that down to the Ethernet level, and matching software on the other side.

Can you revise your question to explain what you're actually trying to do? We can be more helpful then.

If you're trying to de-protect your DRM-ed AAC files from iTunes, it can be done, but no one here will tell you how.

  • You can catch the audio before it hits speakers by using Soundflower. See link in my answer. This will keep it in digital format for you to do whatever with, but what "whatever" is, I do not know.
    – maxwellb
    Aug 19, 2009 at 18:16
  • I want to use mac computer as an audio source for my main computer's better speakers. I wouldn't see the trouble getting rid of DRM this way but rather just download from piratebay, stupid remark.
    – JtR
    Aug 20, 2009 at 5:57
  • What, precisely, is stupid about pointing out that this is not a "warez" site?
    – Adrien
    Aug 20, 2009 at 15:21
  • That I wasn't asking anything related to "warez", precisely.
    – JtR
    Aug 20, 2009 at 15:42
  • Well, I apologize for offending you; however, "d00d, how do I crack xyz product" is a very common question, and I'm decidedly too cynical.
    – Adrien
    Aug 20, 2009 at 16:21

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