Update2: Lion has this functionality built-in. hurray!
Edit: While the sound controls work, I’ve been having major issues with soundflower, from audio disappearing to getting stuck and looping on a sample. Looks like soundflower still needs a bit of development. :(
This has been driving me nuts for years.
I have an external firewire audio interface, a MOTU 896, that has served me well for 7 years. It powers my studio monitors, has multi inputs and delivers superior sound compared to my internal computer speakers.
The only problem with it is that OS X’s volume controls don’t work with it. The volume keys don’t work on the keyboard, the apple remote volume doesn’t work, and you can’t control the volume with AirMouse on the iPhone. In system preferences, you get the message “The selected device has no output controls”, and you get an annoying disabled speaker when you try and use the volume controls.
Thanks to this post and the wonderful folks at Cycling 74, there is a free solution. You can install soundflower, which allows you to route all of your audio to a soundflower device. Once you’ve installed soundflower, you can run Soundflowerbed from your applications menu, which makes a finder menu appear that allows you to choose which device to route audio to. Choose your external device, and you’re done!
Finally, you can leave the volume knob on your external device in one setting, and control the volume from across the room with a remote! Glorious!
Soundflower is also a great app for interapplication multichannel audio routing, similar to rewire or jack.
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