Recording online audio in El Capitan

I am running OS X 10.11.4 and have installed Audacity 2.1.2 and Soundflower-2Ob2. I am trying to record the output from a radio website and created a multi-output device in El Capitan, set my recording device to Soundflower, set the OS sound output to the new device and checked the output levels on the OS sound setting, the Audacity preferences as well as the new midi device. But when I try to record I get the moving red line with a flat waveform, although I can hear the source. When I stop recording, I actually seem to have some audio to export, with timings and file sizes. But the test files I have created are not audible when I play them in iTunes.

I saw a similar problem reported in a FAQ, which dealt with Windows and an earlier version of Audacity. The solution offered there was to “install correctly”, but I have been tinkering along those lines now for quite a while and would appreciate any clues.

Follow the instructions at Don’t create any multi-output devices. Audacity does not record from MIDI devices.


Thanks. I saw this tutorial, but then on another site (Soundflower? Mac?) I saw a discussion that said you can get “pretty far” without the Soundflowerbed application by creating a special midi. Probably that did not pertain to Audacity, and that is where I went off the rails.

One followup question: I now have things working, and I have been able to make a test wav file and play it back in iTunes. Apart from some issues of discontinuities – or interruptions – in the sound and some extraneous noises (which I might be able to address per information in your FAQs) my recorded volume is too low. While recording, my vertical wave display was very compressed, and if I burned my file to CD I would expect I’d have to max out my preamp volume to get anything like comfortable listening levels on playback. I have input and output volume levels turned up all the way in system preferences and the same in the input, record, and output levels in Audacity. Is there something else I might be missing?

Try turning up the volume of whatever you are recording in the web browser player, or if it is a song on YouTube or other popular site, try to download the video instead. You can search online to find out how.

When you have the video you can install FFmpeg then you can import the video file into Audacity and Audacity will extract the audio from the video.


I found it valuable to have speakers with volume controls, or a sound system with volume controls. That takes care of two different processes (you and soundflower) trying to use one sound channel with different volumes.

The other complaint, a sister to yours is the speakers are much too loud when I record with soundflower.

some extraneous noises

Like the dog barking? That’s another common complaint. That means you’re recording from your built-in microphone instead of SoundFlower. Scratch your laptop while you’re recording and you should not be able to hear it in the recording.

Somebody here wrote a really good tutorial on SoundFlower. You should not try to make sense of the soundflower setups. It will make your brain bleed.

Is this old news?


That could be a different problem.


I assume the discontinuities and extraneous noises could be solved by reducing “Audio to Buffer” in Audacity’s Recording Preferences.


It’s been a few days but I thought I would post an update about my recording attempts.

First, the extraneous noises I reported were not external (such as a dog barking) but definitely artifacts from my machine. The sound was something like the flapping of a flag (appropriate for Memorial Day!) and the flaps occurred at a frequency of about 5/second. I turned off Hardware Playthrough and the next sample recording seemed to be free of noise – at least for the 10 minutes I listened. I also reduced all other discretionary processing, running only Audacity and Safari, the latter for the music source (which I believe would be characterized as a podcast – i.e. a canned audio file as opposed to live streaming) and I minimized even those windows to the extent possible. This is a tip I picked up from one of your FAQs to eliminate interruptions in a recording, and it also seemed to work.

The reason I listened for only 10 minutes – from a 30 minute sample – is because the volume, while improved, was still not up to the level I would consider useable. I assume I can purchase outboard speakers, probably of decent quality and perhaps even with volume control, but what I want to do is port the file, via a CDR, over to my music room and find out what the thing actually sounds like. And I don’t want to run too much gain into my 300 watt/channel amplifier. (I also don’t care to port my iMac to my music room, at least at this time.)

Just a couple remaining questions: My processor is 2.8 GHz. Could this speed be limiting the real-time creation of an audio file? And just out of curiosity, how does Audacity find the Soundflowerbed app if I can place it anywhere I like? I placed it in Applications, but that doesn’t seem to be in my path. Does Audacity create its own?

Thanks for all your help.

No, it is nothing to do with low volume.

You are supposed to install Soundlower by running the DMG then choose Soundflower as recording device in Audacity.

You can put Soundflowerbed where you like because Audacity doesn’t need it to record. Soundflowerbed’s only purpose is to let you listen while you have Soundflower set as the system playback device.


"You are supposed to install Soundlower by running the DMG then choose Soundflower as recording device in Audacity. "

I did install Soundflower that way, but Soundflower-2Ob2 supposedly does not (yet) have a Soundflowerbed app. Per the tutorial you cited in your initial reply, I had to download the earlier version of Soundflower, unzip the app and place it somewhere. I have seen no information on what the app actually does and just assumed it was being invoked by Audacity. I am doing cookbook here, and have no idea how the different components play together, or even what they do.

The tutorial says what Soundflowerbed does, close to the top of the page.


Following a tip I found at this site:

I used the Audacity Normalize function in the Effect menu, and now I have quite useable volume. I just took the default settings under Normalize and clicked OK. There’s a lot more to the Normalize function as described in the Audacity manual page and I suspect that volume issues won’t always be resolved so simply, but in this case it gave me a very satisfying recording. There is also an Amplify function under Effect, which I have not used. I’ve obviously got a lot to learn and that’s why I hedged and called this solution a “partial” one.

(Re: Soundflower, I was referring specifically to the SoundflowerBED application. Apparently it’s what allows for monitoring, in addition to the rerouting of the input.)

it’s what allows for monitoring

It facilitates monitoring. I’ve never used SoundFlowerBed in my life. I manually change the Mac System Settings and the Audacity Device settings each time I use it (not that often). SoundFlower appears as a device just like a Microphone or “Built-In Input” and you can select it or not.

And as before, I have external speaker volume control so the Mac systems volumes are always all the way up. This effectively removes them from being able to affect the recording volume which can happen when you’re folding the sound pathways back on themselves.

That may be the magic place where you need SoundFlowerBed, if you have no independent way to control speaker volume.


It was just a guess. Here’s the “magic place” in the tutorial that led me make it:

“Important: The 2.0b2 version is the only version that will work on El Capitan. … but it lacks the “Soundflowerbed” app that lets you hear audio on your computer while Soundflower is set as the system output device.” (I’m not going to mess with HTML to bold the phrase occurring after the ellipsis.)

My independent place to control speaker volume – outside of Audacity settings, System Preferences, and source volume on the website – is the preamp gain running to my power amp. As I’ve explained, I prefer not jacking that up to extremes while running a 300 watt/channel power amp.

So I’ve got a good recording using Normalize. I thought I was reporting progress.


See, I don’t think that’s particularly correct. You can set Audacity Preferences > Recording > [X] Playthrough, and The device Toolbar for Playback to Speakers and hear the work just fine. It’s just late. If you’re trying for split second, real-time editing or other production, that’s not going to work, but if all you’re after is confidence sound, that works just ducky.


That may be different in El Capitan, but that’s worked in all the versions up until now.