Nothing will get Audacity to work on my Macbook Pro

I have followed all of the suggestions to do everything from check my privacy settings to adding a prompt in the Terminal. I cannot get the cassette playing back from a good Sony cassette/CD player to work with Audacity. I tried it on both my new Macbook Pro running Big Sur 11.4 and my older one running Catalina 10.15. The sound is just not coming through the cable so I cannot record. I have an audio cable attached to the mic jack on the Sony player attached to a splitter since neither machine has a line in to ensure that the input picks up the mic. I only have one option on Audacity for input, which is MacBook Pro Microphone. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?

Oh - and I am using the latest version of Audacity 3.03

Right Now…
I’m Facing The Same…
Someone Please Help.

Which model?

A “mic jack” is for getting sound into cassette player (from a microphone). No sound comes out of a mic jack.

Correction~! Using the headphone jack to get the sound out of the Sony player to my MacBook Pro using an audio cable attached to a spliter - This is the EXACT set up my son used when he was here using his Lenovo laptop with Linux and it worked perfectly.

Correction~! Using the headphone jack to get the sound out of the Sony player to my MacBook Pro using an audio cable attached to a spliter - This is the EXACT set up my son used when he was here using his Lenovo laptop with Linux and it worked perfectly.

since neither machine has a line in

I’m a Windows guy and I don’t know why you’re getting nothing, but a line-level or headphone-level signal is about 100 times stronger than a microphone signal and the mic input is mono so you can’t get stereo or the best quality.

Unfortunately, not all audio input sockets are the same on laptop computers.

The splitter illustrated on Amazon has “tip, two rings, and a sleeve” connections. There’s no guarantee that will work on other laptops.
(My laptop uses a “tip, ring sleeve” mini-jack, not two rings).

Perhaps someone with a Macbook Pro can advise on the correct connections.

What is the model of the Macbook? Look in Apple (menu) > About this Mac. Most (if not all) recent Macbooks do not have a microphone input jack, let alone a line level input jack.
– Bill

I only have one option on Audacity for input, which is MacBook Pro Microphone.

Before we go whipping past that, the built-in microphone does work, right? You can speak or scratch the microphone and sound arrives?

So the whole thing comes down to jamming the stereo RCA cables (or headphone cable) into your Mac.

The bad news is, not so far.

Older Macs had actual, real Line-In connections which looked like this. That’s Stereo Line-In and Stereo Headphone Out.

Both work a treat. That’s how I shot the Los Angeles portion of this radio broadcast.

See the cables on the left of my Mac?

Time Marches On.

Macs stopped offering Line-In (or out) and they also stopped offering USB-A connections. That last step peeled off the Behringer UCA-202 analog stereo adapter.

Macs do still offer USB-C/Thunderbolt-3 connections, but so far, no luck finding the appropriate adapters.

Screen Shot 2021-08-03 at 8.00.53 AM.png
Still looking.


I’m going to drop a note to Sweetwater. They’ve been very good about information and I am a customer.


That will get you from a Behringer UCA-202 or any of the other adapters such as ART series into the newer computers. I don’t think you can do it with a simple cable. Or beware of someone who claims they can.

Please note that Apple went through Growing Pains when they had Thunderbolt 1 and 2 ports. I have a Mac Mini with those, so you do have to pay attention.

Screen Shot 2021-08-03 at 8.56.52 AM.png

With reference to that pink and green sound cable adapter. Make sure it’s plugged all the way in. Manufacturers use the position of the plug to switch the software connection on and off. I have a laptop that “hangs” a tiny fraction before it goes all the way in. Once it’s in, rotate it a couple of times to unsure a good connection.

As DVDdoug above, it’s pretty unusual for the computer to ignore the connection completely. But also as Billw58, having any plain audio recording connection of any kind is pretty unusual on newer machines.

However, a headset connection may still be available. That’s headphones and head-mounted microphone all in the same cable.

Screen Shot 2021-08-04 at 2.38.20 AM.png
There’s two different standards for how to wire the plug and yes, the plug has a tip and two rings.

Screen Shot 2021-08-04 at 2.34.19 AM.png
However, before you get too excited, the connection is mono, one sound channel, not stereo, and the volume is not going to match the tape machine leading to overload distortion.


Thanks Koz. Exactly right. I have both a new MacBook Pro running Big Sur Version 11.4 with an Apple M1 chip and an older MacBook Pro (about 7 years old) running Catalina version 10.15.7. Since the older Mac has more hard drive space, that’s why I thought I’d record using that machine.

I’m trying to digitize about 15 audio cassettes of my father being interviewed by various academics and art historians. Hence, I don’t care if it’s mono or sterero - as long as the voice is clear and I can save all of these priceless recordings for posterity.

To your point Macs only have one input for a headset. However that port is for both a headset or using a splitter as I am for a mic. That’s what I’m plugging into from my Sony cassette/CD player. Ugh - what a pain all this is… I’m about to give up the ship and just pay some company to do all the digitizing…

One more clue! When I go to System Preferences > Sound > Input, the “External Microphone” shows up with signal! However, Audacity will only give me 1 choice - Internal MacBook Pro Mic. How can I make Audacity show the External Mic?

Audacity_internal mic-only.jpg

How can I make Audacity show the External Mic?

Try stereo input rather than mono. Audacity used to have a quirk where it would refuse to connect to anything if that setting was wrong in either direction. Another quirk is the order of application. If you start Audacity and then connect an audio device, Audacity won’t see it. Either connect the device and then start Audacity, or Transport > Rescan…

as long as the voice is clear

Don’t bet the ranch on that one. There can be a serious mismatch between heavy, loud Line/Headphone volume coming out of the tape player and the tiny, delicate voice signal External Microphone is expecting.

If you do get the signal pathway to work, listen carefully on good headphones to the recorded voice quality. Loud portions of the performance can be fuzzy, buzzy, or crunchy and may not match the clear quality of plugging the headphones into the player.

Another possible quality problem is automatic voice processing. Macs tend to not have this to near the extent that Windows machines do, but it can pop up if you like Skype, Zoom or other on-line communications or chat application. That can cause odd talking into a wine glass sound or background noise pumping.

Hello ffffffFFFFFFF, How are you? ffffffFFFFF.

If this was easy, anybody could do it.


You might be able to help the fuzzy voice quality problem by watching the Audacity blue waves and reduce the tape player headphone volume control until the waves fit between the two 100% (1.0) marks and don’t seem crushed.

This can’t be fixed by adjusting the Audacity recording volume. The distortion happens upstream from that and it’s already too late.

Nobody wrote that the original voice recording was perfect. A friend of mine really wanted to record his mum talking about moving out of the American Dust Bowl region when she was young. That was an uphill battle with microphones and recorders.