Now Arriving: Loopback
Posted By Paul Kafasis on January 11th, 2016
It’s not often that we get to release a brand-new product here at Rogue Amoeba, so today is a special day. We’re very pleased to introduce our newest application:
Loopback gives you incredible control over how audio is routed between applications and devices on your Mac. With just a few clicks, you can easily pass audio directly from one application to another. Loopback’s virtual audio devices make it trivial to arrange complex audio setups that were difficult or even impossible before. It’s like having a high-end studio mixing board right inside your computer, with no physical wires required!
Loopback: What Is It Good For?
Absolutely all your audio routing needs! Here are just a few examples of what Loopback can help you do.
Play Audio to All Podcast Guests
Take audio from your physical microphone and combine it with audio sources like iTunes or QuickTime Player. Presto! Your guests on Skype will hear your voice, as well your sound effects and musical add-ons.
Combine Multiple Hardware Devices
Audio apps like GarageBand, Logic, and Ableton Live only allow you to record from a single audio device at a time. Thankfully, these apps can record from nearly infinite channels. With Loopback, you can combine multiple physical input devices into a single virtual device with many channels, for easy recording in any application.
Create Top-Notch Screencasts
Screen recording tools like QuickTime Player tend to allow you to include either audio from a microphone or all the audio from your system. Neither of these options tends to be ideal. With Loopback, you can record audio from both the microphone and the application being filmed, so you get just the audio you need.
So how does Loopback do all this, and more? The secret to Loopback’s power lies in its ability to create ”virtual audio devices”. These are system-level audio devices which can be used in real-time by other audio applications on your Mac. These virtual devices appear throughout your system exactly the way a physical device like a microphone would.
However, virtual audio devices are far more powerful than a mere microphone. They can merge the sound from applications (like iTunes or Skype) and inputs (like microphones and physical mixers), bundling it all up into a single source. You can then select your virtual audio device in any audio processing application to get your audio exactly where it’s needed.
A Virtual Audio Device Created in Loopback
Above, we’ve made a simple virtual audio device called “Mic & iTunes”, which merges the sound from a physical USB microphone with music from iTunes. If we set this as our input in a VoIP application like Skype or FaceTime, the person on the other end will hear the audio spoken into the mic, as well as songs played in iTunes. Nice!
Those who’ve previously used the open-source tool “Soundflower” will be familiar with the idea of passing audio directly from one application to another. Without any additional configuration, virtual audio devices made with Loopback will work in a similar mode. We call these “pass-thru devices”. A pass-thru device doesn’t gather any audio on its own, but it will appear as both an audio input and an audio output throughout the system.
Because pass-thru devices appear in all audio selectors throughout Mac OS X, you can use them to pipe audio directly between applications. Sending applications play their audio into a pass-thru device by configuring it as their audio output. On the other end, receiving applications pull audio out of the pass-thru device by selecting it as their audio input. Loopback provides a system for passing audio directly between applications and modernizes the necessary infrastructure to transport it reliably.
Try It Now
Loopback offers incredible power and control over how audio is handled on your Mac, and it’s sure to be useful in hundreds of different ways. The best way to experience it is to try it out yourself. Loopback 1.0 is available for immediate download. You can visit the Loopback page for more details or just download the free trial immediately. Loopback works on Mac OS X 10.9 and higher, and it’s fully functional in its trial mode, so you can explore all that it offers.
Once you’re ready to purchase the full version of Loopback, just visit our online store.
More to Come, Of Course
As you’d expect with a brand-new product, this is just the beginning. We’re extremely grateful to our top-notch beta testers, who helped us improve Loopback immensely. Now, we’ll be listening for even more feedback. Get in touch to let us know how you use Loopback or what you’d like to see in the future!
Tom says:January 11th, 2016 at 1:16 pm
Wonderful! Podcasters/Webcasters have needed this vital audio pass-through for some time. Thanks!
Franco Solerio says:January 11th, 2016 at 1:45 pm
Is any information available about the amount of latency induced by aggregated and pass-thru devices?
Mark Donovan says:January 11th, 2016 at 3:17 pm
Sounds amazing. Well done!
Can Kirca says:January 11th, 2016 at 3:22 pm
How about accessibility with VoiceOver?
Paul Kafasis says:January 11th, 2016 at 3:27 pm
Tom: Thanks for the praise, and please, help spread the word!
Franco Solerio: Loopback devices add around 20 ms of latency – about as low as we can get in software. Download the free trial and test it out!
Mark Donovan: Thanks for the kind words!
Can Kirca: Loopback is fully accessible via Voiceover. Try it out, and let us know if we missed anything.
Sean Terry says:January 11th, 2016 at 4:06 pm
Hi, I really enjoy your products very much. I am another blind indevidual that uses Voice-Over and have loved Audio-Highjack so much. Thanks so much for this new product. I’ll be sure to try the demo and I’ll buy it as well. Thanks again for all your hard work,especially for taking the time to make it as Voice-Over friendly as possible.
Branden Plumley says:January 12th, 2016 at 12:16 am
Awesome, any plans on bringing this software on the Mac App Store
I can use this for streaming, podcasting and lot more. :)
Anonymous says:January 12th, 2016 at 3:42 am
I have several of your products (Piezo, Audio Hijack, Airfoil, Fission, Intermission), and this “little” tool is so far the most expensive of them. Which is too bad, because I would love to use Loopback from time to time, but the price stops me :-(
Erion says:January 12th, 2016 at 7:30 am
While I appreciate this new product, I think the price tag is not quite reasonable.
I do not see any advantage over the combination of Audio Hijack and Soundflower as of yet, unless we have something great coming in a future version.
Steve Borsch says:January 12th, 2016 at 5:31 pm
Impressive software you guys. Works perfectly. Based on owning other products of yours I was all set today to buy so downloaded the demo to make certain it would do what I needed.
My only beef? Your demo started spewing white noise right in the middle of my Go To Meeting session with a client and I couldn’t hear a damn thing but white noise! I’d downloaded the demo half an hour before the meeting so I could start to goof with it, but then logged in to GTM. Just as my client CEO asked me a question the white noise started and I literally could not figure out a way to turn it off. Had to quit everything, uninstall with CleanMyMac, reboot, and log back in to the meeting.
Got a “WTF?” from the CEO. Not cool and quite embarrassing. Please rethink that demo approach.
Paul Kafasis says:January 12th, 2016 at 5:36 pm
Sean Terry: Glad we can help. And as always, we work hard on our VoiceOver support, but please let us know of any issues!
Branden Plumley: Unfortunately, as with most of our software, Apple’s restrictions make it impossible to ship this software in the Mac App Store. But, like all of our software, it will always be sold direct through our store.
Anonymous: Compared to our other software, which is aimed at a mainstream audience, Loopback is a fairly targeted product. It’s aimed at a smaller group of largely professional users, for whom it should definitely be worth the slightly higher price. Given the power it provides, and the amount of time and hassle it can save, we’re confident it will be.
What is your use case for occasional use? We’d certainly love to hear more about it.
Erion: If Soundflower and Audio Hijack work for you, you should certainly stick with them. But as to advantages Loopback offers? There are several.
Both Loopback and Soundflower can create what we call pass-thru devices. You’ll be able to select the pass-thru device as an output in one app and the input in another to pass audio between them. However, unlike Soundflower, Loopback allows you to create as many of these pass-thru devices as you need, with the exact number of channels you need.
Beyond that, Loopback does much more than Soundflower. With Loopback, you can also create custom configured devices, which capture audio from specific devices and/or applications. Create a virtual microphone that grabs from your physical mic and from iTunes, or capture audio from multiple software apps. You can also monitor your devices’ audio via another audio device, adjust channel counts, manually map channels, and more.
Also worth noting, as a paid product, Loopback is fully supported. It’s built on years of rock-solid and receives frequent updates, making it a reliable tool for use in all setups.
If Soundflower meets your needs, no problem! But we believe there’s an opening in the market for a professional tool that’s well-maintained, and we’re intending to fill it.
a7r says:January 12th, 2016 at 6:51 pm
Wish it worked on 10.8 (I only update my studio machine OS when I absolutely have to).
Anonymous says:January 13th, 2016 at 11:25 am
Paul, thank you for the answer. You write “It’s aimed at a smaller group of largely professional users, for whom it should definitely be worth the slightly higher price.” But at the same time, text on your Soundflower page says “If you’ve previously used Soundflower, or are simply looking for a tool to route audio between applications on your Mac, you may be interested in Loopback.” which suggests more casual use — exactly my case. I simply need to occasionally send audio clips via Skype or other teleconferencing systems. I can continue using Soundflower, but Loopback surely looks nice :) (Maybe Audio Hijack can get this feature too, without using Soundflower? :))
Paul Kafasis says:January 13th, 2016 at 5:48 pm
a7r: We support 10.9, which is presently two versions of the OS out-of-date. That’s pretty darned good, I’d say. We won’t be going back farther than that, I’m afraid.
anonymous: I can’t say I see that mentioning Loopback on the Soundflower page “suggests more casual use”. Soundflower is used by many folks in a professional capacity, folks who are often stymied by its confusing nature or lack of reliability (see http://lifehacker.com/loopback-for-mac-manages-multiple-microphones-and-other-1752724668 for instance). If they’re looking for a more reliable solution, we want them to find it, that’s all.
As far as Audio Hijack goes, Loopback is not something we plan to incorporate into it. Audio Hijack is aimed at capturing audio to record (saving to a file) or adjust (with audio effects), while Loopback is a tool for passing audio between apps. They can work in conjunction, but neither is likely to absorb the features of the other. We made this a distinct app specifically because it’s not functionality most Audio Hijack users need.
Callum says:January 14th, 2016 at 7:45 am
I’m just getting started with DJing on my Mac and am using the Mixtrack Pro II for now to get me started. The way this mixer works is there are 4 channels, the main speaker output been channels 1 and 2, and the headphones are channels 3 and 4. What I’m wanting to do is set VoiceOver to speak through channels 3 and 4, where my headphones would be, that way I don’t have to keep taking my headphones off and listen to VoiceOver to hear what track I’m selecting.
Soundflower allowed me to do this no problem, until I made the mistake of upgrading to El Capitan. Is there a way to do this with Loopback?
Really hope this makes sense, and cheers for any help.
Str8UpJack says:January 14th, 2016 at 9:29 am
Hey guys.. this is great! I was waiting for this to come along. I think it’s worth the price ( especially at the discounted rate ). Sound flower has been great but the lack of support always bothered me. It wasn’t super intuitive and if you wanted to get more complicated setups running you had to be very comfortable with digging into making aggregate devices. I always found I spent so much time trying to get a set up working only to have something not work.. pulled my hair out and ended up giving up and ended up purchasing a small 4Ch USB mixing board. Loopback makes the process so easy for the casual user that still has complex setups in mind – think gamers that want to stream multiple audios or like music, Teamspeak, microphone and maybe some sound effects.
One thing that can’t be denied is RA sure does make a great product that just works! This is my 4th licensed product from you guys and it seems like it’s just another great piece of software that will always be part of my audio toolbox.
Thomas Byskov Dalgaard says:January 14th, 2016 at 5:59 pm
Yes, the product and the ideas for it are awesome. Hands down, awesome.
My only caution is the price. I think I know at least 10 people who want something like this for small setups and I would have told them straight away to get Loopback if it wasn’t for the price at 75 and later on 99 USD. For that price I would suggest that the user could get two products like Audio Hijack and Loopback or Nicecast and Loopback. If the cost was around 50 USD, I would tell anyone I know about this, because the product is so great, and as mentioned, I know a lot of users who would replace Soundflower with this, because the way Loopback works is so easy to work with. But please consider a more bright user base for this than audio professionals. So let the price be around 50 or 60 dollars, and I would recommend the Loopback app to any mac user I know who might be interested moving some audio around without a mixer outside their computer.
Best regards Thomas
Tom Pollock says:January 14th, 2016 at 8:43 pm
Congrats on the new product! Could you clarify what Loopback can do that Audio Hijack and/or Audio MIDI Setup aggregate devices can’t? I’ve been using both these tools for tricky routing scenarios and have been successful, but knowing you guys, you’ve thought of something I haven’t.
Dr Tone says:January 15th, 2016 at 4:43 pm
Will a loopback audio device be able to be accessed in exclusive mode? Specifically I would like set up Roon to output to Loopback which will then be used with Au Lab to host canopener studio and redirect out to my DAC at maximum sample rate?
Paul Kafasis says:January 15th, 2016 at 11:25 pm
Callum: It’s almost certain that Loopback can help you, yes. Download the free trial to test it out, then get in touch via our support form if you have further questions.
Str8UpJack: Thank you! We definitely aim to provide a quality product that’s useful and reliable. I’m glad you liked it!
Thomas Byskov Dalgaard: Compared to our other software, which is aimed at a mainstream audience, Loopback is a fairly targeted product. Given the power it provides, and the amount of time and hassle it can save, we’re confident it will be worth the price to a large enough audience.
Tom Pollock: Audio Hijack and Loopback are somewhat similar, in that they both capture audio from applications and devices, but they serve different purposes. With Audio Hijack, you can make a recording with the audio captured from input devices and apps, saving it to a file. With Loopback, you can grab audio from those same sources, input devices and apps, but then pass it to another application.
Loopback passes audio between apps by creating virtual audio devices. These devices acts ust like a physical device you plug in to your Mac. With them, you can pass the audio from devices and apps you select, back to other applications. So if you’ve got audio from your mic and iTunes, and you want to get both of them into Skype, you just create a device in Loopback that consists of your mic + iTunes. If you’ve got audio in FaceTime that you want to pass right to GarageBand, you can, and so on.
As far as Aggregate Devices in Mac OS X go, they let you combine sources. Loopback does this as well, but it also does a lot more. To begin, you can combine not just audio hardware, but software application sources as well. As well, the custom channel mapping provides much more flexibility for your virtual devices. You can even monitor the device’s output through another device. None of that is possible with the OS’s aggregate devices.
The other major win is Loopback’s pass-thru devices. If you create a device in Loopback and do no further configuration, you can use it to pass audio directly from one app to another. Just select that pass-thru device as the output for apps you want to send audio from, and the input in the app you want to receive the audio.
Want to learn more? Grab the free Loopback trial, right from our site:
Dr Tone: Do you mean “hog mode”? I can’t say we’ve tested with that (as it’s not a frequently used feature). Everything happens on the CoreAudio side, so I would assume Loopback will work with it just fine. Grab the trial and test it out!