No Sound Output

I am running Audacity 2.1.1 on Mountain Lion (10.8.5).

I have loaded several mp3 & mp4 files and all show waveforms and, while playing, show the levels bouncing properly. However, there is no sound output. I have tried all the playback settings.

I can record from the mic and, on playback, everything looks fine except no sound output.

All these files play properly through VLC. All other audio applications work normally. The files can be edited and exported. While they won’t play in Audacity, they play fine in VLC (with all edits audible.)

I had previously a 1.x version of Audacity successfully on this machine. When I started it yesterday, it was not working so I tried the following:

  • Try all outputs.
  • Reboot the machine.
  • Delete the audacity.cfg file
  • Download Audacity 2.1.1 and install over earlier release.
  • Delete the audacity.cfg file again. This caused the normal first-time prompt to appear.

None of these things has helped.

Any other ideas?

Attached a screen grab from my Mac. See the right-hand setting “Built-In Output?” What does yours say?
Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 9.54.16.png
And which machine do you have?


Has mechanical noise I’m tryint to analyze.

You mean that pool filtration pump sound?

Close - it’s actually a newly installed chiller system for a local school. Goes on all night; seems way too loud. Was trying to get spectral plot, esp harmonics which would be tell-tale sign for HVAC problems.

But back to my audacity problem… I have 6 output choices: Built-In Output, Built-In Line Out, Built-In Line Out (Yes, a second copy), and two Soundflower options. I’ve tried all of them to no avail. (My Sound preferences panel has the second Built-In Line Out selected and that works fine for system sounds, iTunes and VLC.) BTW - Does “Built-In Output” route audio to the default system sound device?

My playback looks “normal” except for the lack of sound. Attachment shows the Built-In Line Output and level indicators. (Again, “Built-In Output” works no better.)

The machine giving me trouble is, ahem, a hackintosh. But Audacity has run fine on it forever. And the version that did run six months ago stopped working and the current version doesn’t work either. I keep thinking there’s a configuration issue with Audacity. The current version of Audacity works fine on my 2014 MBpro.
Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 4.04.01 PM.png

Audacity can display sound as multi-colour spectrograms , rather than the usual oscilloscope-type waveforms …
Yard Sample 4 - Normalized , spectrogram, linear vertical scale.png

You can’t do volume analysis with a microphone, computer and Audacity. But if you hurry, you can do it with one of these.


No. It routes output to the active output for that single device. If a Mac had built-in speakers and one physical audio output, then the “Built-In Output” would be to headphones or speakers if such were connected to the output, else to the built-in speakers.

How many physical analogue or optical audio outputs does the computer have, and what symbol is alongside each on the computer?

Do you hear a click when trying to start Audacity playback?

It is a long shot, but you could try quitting Audacity, open /Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup, then select the second Built-In Line Out as output device then restart the computer and restart Audacity.

If that does not help, post the data from Help > Audio Device Info… .

Have you tried running /Applications/Soundflower/Soundflowerbed then setting either Soundflower as Audacity playback device? Did you have Soundflower before the problem started?

Do you have Skype installed?

Are you dual booting another OS with OS X, if so using what bootloader?


We have not had good experiences with hackintoshes. Their low cost is more than compensated by lack of convenience and stability.

If the company is at all on top of this, they will have the “A Loudness Contour” measurements all ready to go — and be neighborhood environment legal. Your only hope is to have your own measurements and have them louder and more objectionable than theirs.

And that means a real sound meter, not a hackintosh running a free audio program of no recognized certification or calibration.

Alternately, if you can prove, with a real Sound Pressure Meter and A Weight that their noises are not neighborhood night-time legal, then you got this licked.

This is notoriously difficult to prosecute. The two people I know who tried, moved.


I find the traditional spectrum plot pretty clearly shows the main frequency components I’m looking for. The regular peaks sure look like the signature 1/3 octave harmonics that can be produced by HVAC equipment.

I was also able to use the equalize filter to create notch and bandpass filters. For example, removing the 6K to 7K frequencies gets rid of the cicadas, leaving predominantly mechanical sounds.
Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.34.11 AM.png

Totally agree. It’s actually a school and the system was just installed a few months ago. I just wanted to get a quick handle to confirm that the noise that reaches my house matches what I hear on the school property.

Would like to have a talk with the school building people as a friendly neighbor… Not sure they’re completely done with the installation (though since the school year has started, I guess they are) and it’s possible they haven’t heard any complaints yet. Just trying to walk in with something other than a general complaint. No question next step is to get a level measurement, but I need someone who will filter it to exclude the non HVAC noise. I’ve also found some ASME articles suggesting that the permissible noise levels for “tonal noise” ought to be lower than broad spectrum noise, say by 5dB. Don’t see that in my county’s noise ordinance, though.

Being a popular local school, I expect folks won’t want to make too much of a fuss, but there are probably 50 houses as close to the source as I am. Also, a large number of homeowners are part-time residents (I’m in FL) and many have not even returned from their summer elsewhere. So there could be a good number of people affected. And this school seems to be pretty well funded. I’m also wondering what the faculty and staff think of all this noise - after all, the chiller building is way closer to them than to me. There may also be a simpler solution like stopping the units from midnight to 5 or 6 in the morning or running them at some reduced level for longer intervals. (The school has multiple units cooling water in storage for use during the day.)

I hear the period “bells” (electronic chimes") and PA announcements broadcast to the school yards and don’t have any problem with that. Just that very annoying, “cannot ignore”, whine until 3 or 4 in the morning.

Thanks for all the suggestions… I’ll give them a try today or tomorrow and let you know.

In the UK there are local government officials, “environmental health officer”, one can complain to about noise.
They measure the noise , ( sometimes leaving equipment in ones home to monitor the noise overnight ).
I don’t know if there is an equivalent of “environmental health officer” in U.S of A.