Can I send audio & video to different places, using my Macbook?
May 17, 2014 5:59 PM   Subscribe

I have a pre-2010 Macbook Pro which I use to watch DVDs on my TV, using an HDMI cable with mini display port adaptor. However the audio doesn't go through the cable and has to play through the laptop speakers, which is less than ideal. I'm thinking of buying one of these bluetooth adaptors so that I can play the audio through my stereo system. Has anyone tried to do this at the same time, and will it work?
posted by superfish to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Have you tried an ordinary M/M audio cable from the Mac's headphone jack to the jack on the TV? That's what I use with my older MBP.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:17 PM on May 17, 2014

Any idea why the audio's not going through HDMI? It's certainly capable.

When you plug in an HDMI cable whether adapted through DisplayPort or direct HDMI-output from the Mac, the Mac should consider your TV to be an external audio device. You may just have to do some switching in the Audio Preferences to tell it to use that for the output.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:18 PM on May 17, 2014

The older MBP's mini-DVI doesn't support audio.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:50 PM on May 17, 2014

Any idea why the audio's not going through HDMI? It's certainly capable.

HDMI has audio. Mini displayport doesn't (or at least doesn't for a certain vintage of mac).

OP: You could probably use a mini-toslink->toslink cable. Check the specs on your mac but I think you'll find the headphone port is also concealing a digital output. I have a similar setup on a mac mini, and used to be able to do the same when I had that-era MBP. This presumes your stereo has a spare optical input, of course.

That all said: for your sound routing thing, you might want to check out Soundflower.
posted by pompomtom at 6:52 PM on May 17, 2014

Room641A, thanks. The TV doesn't have an audio cable jack, just RCA ports. I tried a M-RCA cable but it doesn't work, either with or without an HDMI input. Computer is set for audio to go through the headphone jack so that's not it. Fiddled around with TV audio settings to no avail. Any other ideas?
posted by superfish at 6:52 PM on May 17, 2014

pompomtom, what am I missing with Soundflower? Is it more than a recording app? My TV is a year-old plasma screen but not a smart TV. Does that make a difference?

I'm going to try buying a MM audio cable and plugging it into the stereo.
posted by superfish at 7:07 PM on May 17, 2014

(Now I've got the TV to play audio from the computer but it won't take audio and video at the same time)
posted by superfish at 7:21 PM on May 17, 2014

You could maybe use an Apple TV, running AirPlay from your laptop to the Apple TV. You can certainly split out audio and video from that. AirPlay support will depend on your laptop, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:48 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Monoprice makes a $39 converter box that does what you're looking for. Basically it combines digital audio with digital video (DVI/HDMI) creating the unified Audio+Video HDMI stream your TV is looking for (and your older macbook isn't capable of outputting on its own). You just need the same mini-toslink to toslink cable and a standard hdmi to dvi cable.

My only beef with that (or MiniDP->HDMI with audio on newer Macboooks) is that because digital audio goes at fixed level you can't adjust the volume on the macbook side, only on the TV. So I prefer to output analog audio instead. Monoprice has a another converter box ($60) that has more inputs (including analog audio) but still creates the same unified HDMI stream. If you can swing $60 it'll work great.

Bonus: Option clicking the volume icon in the menu bar allows you to choose audio outputs without having to go to System Preferences..
posted by notpeter at 9:53 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even if you have an older MacBook Pro that does not natively support AirPlay natively (and yours does not, unfortunately), you can run AirParrot on your laptop to add AirPlay support and stream stereo audio and video to an Apple TV.

If wireless streaming to an Apple TV and stereo sound are not options that appeal to you — if you need AC3 surround sound, for instance, or you don't want to buy an Apple TV and license of AirParrot — run a TOSLINK cable between your laptop and TV or receiver, as mentioned in previous comments, and do the following:

Connect your MacBook Pro video feed as you do now. With the TOSLINK cable connected, click and hold the Option key on your keyboard while clicking on the Volume menu extra (in your menu bar) and select "Digital Out".

You'll need to control volume through your TV or receiver, but you'll get digital stereo or AC3 surround sound from any audio/video source that is encoded that way and played back through iTunes and DVD Player apps (you might be able to do the same through VLC, but it will depend on the build of VLC and the file you are playing, and how it is encoded).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:28 PM on May 17, 2014

what am I missing with Soundflower?

It allows you to route audio between applications, so if you need something extra to send your audio out on bluetooth, it could be helpful to get the audio in to whatever you're using.
posted by pompomtom at 4:39 PM on May 18, 2014

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