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Mixing Audio Using SoundDesk (macOS)

Use SoundDesk to mix and broadcast audio from macOS apps.

Jamie Ashbrook avatar
Written by Jamie Ashbrook
Updated over a week ago

SoundDesk is a DAW (Digital Audio Workspace) from the audio company, LoudLab. Now in its 4th edition, it's a virtual mixer for mixing and broadcasting audio on Macs.

SoundDesk has many similar features to Audio Hijack, but it is a cheaper alternative.

SoundDesk also allows much more advanced control of your audio and is most suited for those experienced in using broadcasting desks.

Whereas Audio Hijack 4 costs $69 + local taxes, a SoundDesk licence costs $30 + local taxes. You can also try SoundDesk for free for 15 days.

Broadcasting audio from different applications on your Mac

Using SoundDesk, you can pick and choose which audio from your different applications will be broadcast. That might be an interview from Zoom or songs from your music library. So it's ideal for radio shows where you have multiple audio sources, especially if these are from digital sources.

You also have the power to add in hardware like microphones. And just like a physical mixing desk, you can mute audio sources as well as add audio effects & processing.

To use SoundDesk, you'll need the following requirements:

  • macOS 10.13.6 or later

  • 64-bit processor (Intel or Apple Silicon)

  • At least 4GB of memory

  • 100MB of available disk space

How SoundDesk Works

SoundDesk works with online radio thanks to 3 stages.

The 1st stage is setting SoundDesk's inputs i.e. the audio you'll be broadcasting. SoundDesk lets you assign your different apps or hardware to its inputs. These inputs can then be assigned to channels. So you can mix your audio like you would with a physical broadcasting desk.

The 2nd stage is setting SoundDesk's outputs i.e where you'll be sending audio to. For mixed audio, SoundDesk has 3 important outputs.

  • The 1st output is called Stereo out, in order for you to hear your mix, this output can be assigned to headphones or speakers.

  • The 2nd output is the PFL (pre-fade listen). This can be assigned to your headphones or speakers and gives you the chance to check the audio on a channel before it's broadcast.

  • The 3rd output is essentially the master channel, but in SoundDesk it's known as the Master Fader. This Master Fader output can be assigned to a Virtual Audio Cable. This is used in the final stage.

    Tip: Don't use speakers if you're using a microphone, as this will cause feedback.

The 3rd stage is connecting SoundDesk to the broadcasting software BUTT.
Within BUTT's audio settings, the input is changed to the Virtual Audio Cable. This will mean audio is sent from SoundDesk to BUTT and then encoded and pushed out to your radio station.

How To Set Up SoundDesk with

What You Need

Step 1. Change Your Mac Audio Settings

After downloading SoundDesk and SoundDesk's Virtual Driver, you'll need to change your Mac's audio settings.

Click the Apple logo (top left of your Mac screen) and go to System Preferences and select Sound.

Under both input and output, select SoundDesk Audio Driver as the device.

Screenshot showing Mac Sound Settings and where to change the Input and Output devices.

Once done, close this window.

Step 2. Change Your SoundDesk Audio Settings

Go to SoundDesk, Preferences then audio.

Now change the Input Interface and Output Interface to "all-in-one-audio-device".

The Audio Setup Window in SoundDesk which let's you change Input & Output devices as well as open up the Virtual Driver Matrix.

Keep the Audio Setup window open.

Step 3. Route Audio From Your Apps To SoundDesk

Now we can assign our apps to the SoundDesk's inputs. Within the Audio Setup Window you have open and next to Virtual Driver, click Matrix.

All your open apps should appear on the left hand side of the Audio Driver Matrix.

Including the apps that have nothing to do with audio - either ignore these or close them down.

If an audio app is not appearing, check you have it open. If it still isn't appearing, you may need to start playing audio within the app for SoundDesk to recognise it.

Assign your apps to an input by checking a box in one of the columns. To keep things simple, only assign one app per input.

SoundDesk's Virtual Driver Matrix, which let's you assign apps to inputs.

Once finished, close the Matrix. Now, you need to assign your inputs to channels within the SoundDesk mixer. We can do this by choosing the inputs from the Virtual Audio Driver options. The video below shows you where you change a channel's inputs.

For example, if you assigned your Music player to inputs 7-8, on the A input for a channel, go to Virtual Audio Driver and select "input 7". Then, on the B input for a channel select "input 8".

Rename each channel with whatever app has been assigned to it. This means when you look at your mixer, you know what each of your channels and faders are for.

Step 4. Set Up Your Outputs

Set the PFL output Left & Right to be external headphones, as shown below.

The SoundDesk mixer with the Stereo Output highlighted by a yellow box.

Set the Stereo output Left and Right (highlighted in yellow below) to be external headphones.

Change your master fader output (highlighted in yellow) to SoundDesk Virtual Audio Cable (Stereo).

The SoundDesk Mixer highlighting the master output with a yellow box.

Step 5. Configure BUTT

If you haven't set up BUTT with your account, follow this guide on how to do so.

In BUTT settings, go to Audio. Under Main Audio Settings, change your input device to SoundDesk Virtual Audio Cable.

The main BUTT window next to the settings window, set to the Audio tab and with the SoundDesk Virtual Cable selected as the Audio Device.

You should have your SoundDesk audio coming through to BUTT now. When you're ready to go live, press the play button in BUTT to connect to your radio station.

Once live, your radio stations stream will be controlled by SoundDesk.

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