Simultaneously Pushing Audio to External Speakers and Bluetooth from a Mac

Standard

A couple of months ago I had the idea to see if there was a simple way to play iTunes music from the built-in iMac speakers while also playing it through a Bluetooth speaker (in this case a JBL speaker). My goal was to have the music playing from the computer in one room and also playing from a Bluetooth speaker in the dining room. Sure enough, OS X has a way to do this (I’m running 10.9 so I don’t know how widely this feature is supported across older versions of OS X).

Thanks to user Eric Ross in the Apple Support Communities I didn’t have to do much searching to find the answer. As detailed in his response, the solution is to open the Audio Midi Setup application located in the Utilities folder and then simply create a Multi-Output Device that has both speaker types selected. Note that in order for this to work the Bluetooth speaker needs to already be connected to the Mac.

MOD-Setup

At this point we’ve only created the multi-output device. One additional step is required – setting it as the current output device (System Preferences -> Sound -> Output) :

MOD-Select
I originally did this with my iMac but the screenshots in this post were created using my MacBook Air.

And that should work. The Bluetooth audio (at least with the settings I used) will have a slight delay in comparison to the system speakers. Bluetooth has a relatively short range so the practical applications of this method may be limited by obstructions within one’s home and the receiving capability of the Bluetooth device that is used.

 

43 thoughts on “Simultaneously Pushing Audio to External Speakers and Bluetooth from a Mac

  1. Sam Raynes

    Thanks for this! After doing this however, I’m getting a humming that’s coming from the internal Mac speakers. Any idea on how to fix that?

    • Rob

      I noticed that the humming or static does not come out of the Master Device that is chosen. the static will switch as I switch which device is the master. Sample rate did not seem to affect it at all. did you ever get an answer to this?

  2. I have a bluetooth speaker playing iTunes in my shop from my iMac, problem is I’d like to have all other functions on my computer use the internal speaker, such as youtube etc, Is that possible?

  3. trevorlam2014

    Great, just what I wanted. Only problem is it seems like I can’t control the volume with the usual controls. Is there anyway to do this?

    • I’m not certain though I ended up not using this feature for very long. These days I have the iMac set to send all sound output only to a Bluetooth speaker.

      I’ve also used this method in an attempt to send audio to two Bluetooth speakers at the same time. It was able to connect to both but in practice it didn’t work – the audio dropped on both speakers constantly – I don’t know if it was a limitation of the Bluetooth radio, the OS, or both. It seemed like it simply wasn’t capable of reliably sending an audio stream to two Bluetooth devices at the same time. I wasn’t very surprised as it’s probably not a common thing that someone would have a desire to do.

  4. Mike

    I have just installed a pair of bluetooth speakers on my iMac (Yosemite) because the audio out/headphones port died, after a good many years driving my original Apple external stereo speakers (a collectors item, that still work!). I found immediately that the sound quality from the bluetooth speakers was not good; choppy and crackling. After much experimenting I realised I had 3 other devices running in the bluetooth menu – keyboard, mouse and trackpad. Turning ONE off (trackpad in this instance) resulted in mush improved sound! They are good speakers (Sandstrom) 15w x 2 and I also use Boon2 to enhance the sound – now very happy.

  5. conner murpy

    My external speakers are considered “built in output” when plugged in, so I cannot select the external speakers and the built in iMac speakers for the multi-output device. Is there a way to use both of these output devices as a multi-output device?

  6. Benjamin

    Didn’t work for me. I have the aggregate set up but my Mac will still only output to one device. I have aa JBL Pulse 2 bluetooth speaker and speakers plugged into the headphone jack.

  7. Thank you, it was very easy and was almost exactly what I want…
    I put the output to two different bluetooth speakers (Headphone and Harman/Kardon speaker), now I’m seeking for a possibility to send the left chanel to both chanels of one device and right chanel to both chanels of another device?

    • Lex Fradski

      sorry for late reply. i’m thinking now about the same — want to purchase two bluetooth mono speakers and connect them together. Did your solution with two simultaneous work now? Have you tried to use aggregate device instead of multi-output to redefine channels?

  8. Kunto Bayu ombey

    If you have lag or crakling, try to check the drift correction in audio midi…
    Try to change the master sound in your new profile audio agregate (multi output device) too….

  9. Thanks, This works well on OSX 10.11.3 with a Jambox in another room–even with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

    Only annoyance is volume adjustment, which doesn’t work when on Multi-Output Device. I have to switch the output to just one device (Internal Speakers or Jambox), adjust the volume like normal, and then switch it back to Multi-Output Device. Works well enough, but interrupts audio in the other room.

  10. What Did I miss?

    Didn’t work. After making an aggregate device and selecting built-in and bluetooth i get “The selected device has no output controls” when I go to system preferences sound output. I press play on itunes and the sound output automatically changes from aggregate device to only bluetooth.

  11. zagcatt

    great this .. only this is that when I followed the steps above I can not alter volume via imac or my bluetooth speakers?

  12. Bruce Erlichman

    Didn’t work. Using 2 OontZ Angle speakers on a Macbook Air. Bluetooth icon shows both OontZ’s as connected. Icon does not show Multi-Output Device – should it?

    Getting sound only through one speaker and very choppy at that. Preferences/Sound shows both speakers and Multi-Output Device. Speaker types are Bluetooth – Multi-Output Device type is Aggregate device.

    Only other Bluetooth device is mouse which I disconnected to no avail.
    Any thoughts?

    Bruc

  13. rusty2012

    Volume control: I couldn’t control volume through the normal keys, either. I was able to control music volume through iTunes, though. Thanks for the great tip! Feel like I can rock out again 🙂

  14. Hey, thanks for this, was just looking for info on pairing my bluetooth speaker, but came across this and now I have an unexpectedly pleasant 3-speaker surround setup going 🙂
    Wanted to offer a tip for those lamenting the loss of their volume button functionality. Which is indeed mighty lamentable, verging on infuriating. I haven’t tested it much, but the tip is as follows: If you are in whatever app your music or sound is coming from, try holding Shift and hitting the up or down keys. So far I’ve tried it in Amazon Music, as well as watching Netflix in Safari. Worked brilliantly both times. I presume it would behave similarly elsewhere. Obviously not as good a hitting a single button that will globally change volume regardless of the app you’re in, but at least it spares you the need to go mousing around for a tiny volume slider.

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