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2011 iMac running Mavericks and Skype 7.36 (507)

I want to be able to talk with someone and share my Ableton audio at the same time. I know this is a common request as I see it all over the net, and the answers always seem to be either:

  1. Use a commercial application like Audio Hijack or similar
  2. Use SoundFlower or Jack
  3. Use an Aggregate device
  4. Some combination of 1-3

But I believe I have tried every conceivable combination of things that do not require paying for a commercial utility (which I'm not convinced would magically be the solution on its own anyway), and I am still absolutely nowhere. I even previously asked this question elsewhere and answered it myself, but that answer no longer works for me at all with Ableton (it was Reason-centric at that time).

Even excluding my mic for now, just to pipe the Ableton audio into Skype, what I believe should work but does not, is:

  1. Live's audio device is set to SoundFlower (2 ch.)
  2. Skype's "microphone" preference is set to SoundFlower (2 ch.)
  3. SoundFlowerBed (no longer supported but I'm running Mavericks so it works fine) is set to output to the built-in output (to keep things simple, though my final application will output to my audio interface)

I believe this should send audio out of Ableton and into Skype. But I get absolutely nothing through Skype. I'm testing by calling myself on a second Skype account on another computer. No audio is passed at all from Ableton.

Does anyone know if there is something wrong with what I'm doing above? Is there another definitive will-always-work way to do this?

MAJOR EDIT:

I just got it working-ish and it was far easier than I had been making it. However there is a significant issue remaining, which I will cover momentarily. First, here's what I did, using the SoundSiphon app which while it is a paid app, it allows you to work with the master system output for free, indefinitely... so this is in fact a totally free almost-solution:

  1. Create an Aggregate device consisting of my USB microphone, and the SoundSiphon In device.
  2. In Skype's Microphone selector in Preferences, select the Aggregate Device
  3. Turn on SoundSiphon, set its output to my Audio Interface
  4. In Ableton Live, select SoundSiphon In as the audio device
  5. Make a Skype call and notice the significant remaining issue, to be discussed now.

Audio is now routed from either my mic, or Ableton, but never both at the same time. Which one I get, depends on which was the last item selected in the Aggregate device. If I tick the box for SoundSiphon, and then my mic, then I get my mic. If I tick the box for my mic, and then SoundSiphon, then I get Ableton.

This feels like a bug, but I can't be certain. To reiterate, either my mic, OR Ableton's audio, will route through to Skype just fine using SoundSiphon. However the aggregate device does not work as expected, and combine the signals so that I can have Ableton and my Mic sending over Skype together.

This does however present an acceptable workaround, which is to create a separate audio track in Ableton, set my mic as the input there, and simply have Skype listen to Ableton alone, passing my voice to it that way.

I would still love to know why the aggregate device behaves the way that it does, but if nobody can provide an answer to that effect within a few days, I'll create an answer of my own with the all-Ableton audio workaround.

  • Why wait to post your own answer? It won't prevent others from answering. – Todd Wilcox Jan 8 '17 at 7:42
  • Oh yeah good point... I always tend to think that once an answer is posted, the question is somehow closed. But I know that's not the case. Answer coming right up. – Jonathan van Clute Jan 8 '17 at 16:21
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I have found an acceptable workaround that gets me the end result I needed. Here's what I did, using the SoundSiphon app which while a paid app, it allows you to work with the master system output for free, indefinitely... so this is in fact a totally free solution:

  1. Get and install SoundSiphon, which is a paid app but the demo version will work for this solution indefinitely
  2. Set SoundSiphon as the audio device for Ableton
  3. Set SoundSiphon as the “microphone” input in Skype Preferences.
  4. Create an audio track in Ableton and set the mic as the input for it.

Now I can talk and my voice comes into Ableton, and all Ableton output goes to Skype. I can play the sequencer and talk over it, etc. Works perfectly and this solution is totally free. Sound quality is of course far from perfect (mono, highly compressed...), but for basic sharing of audio that doesn’t have to be pristine, it will definitely do.

I still don't know why the aggregate device approach refused to work, but unless someone else comes up with an explanation there, this is how I'm going to be approaching it going forward.

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