Have you ever had issues getting your Digidesign audio interface to play back your computer’s audio (like iTunes or internet audio)? It can be a bit of a challenge. Check out this week’s Ask Joe question. 

Photo by charles_chan

Photo by charles_chan

Hey Joe!

I have been trying to figure a way to run my computer’s audio through my speakers that are connected to my 003. I don’t want to have to open Pro Tools to play a CD or MP3 that someone has given me as a reference. I just want to open iTunes or Windows Media Player and play the track. Is there a way to do this?

Thanks a lot!

– Josh

Josh, you’ve hit on something that has plagued many Pro Tools users. While I love Pro Tools, Digidesign’s interfaces don’t historically play very nicely with playing back regular computer audio.

Now, I’m a Mac guy, and I don’t know a whole lot about setting up a Digidesign interface with a PC. However, I would imagine it’s just a matter of going to your system preferences and selecting the 003 as your audio device as opposed to the default internal sound card.

I’m sorry I don’t have some more specific suggestions, but let me share you my experience on the Mac side, and hopefully that will help.

Any other audio interface you work with, like PreSonus or Focusrite, will work as a standard CoreAudio device on any Mac. All you really have to do is plug it in and select the device in the Preferences menu as your audio input and output device. 

However, since Digidesign uses their own proprietary Digi CoreAudio driver, it just doesn’t seem to always get recognized by the Mac. It’s like the Digi CoreAudio Manager is a middle-man between the interface and the Mac.

When working properly, the Digi CoreAudio Manager driver will automatically open whenever you try to play audio. For example, when you open iTunes, the Digi CoreAudio Manager opens in the background, and routes the audio to the 003 outputs.

The problem is that for some reason this doesn’t always work. You’ll plug in the 003, open up iTunes, hit play, and audio will only play out of the computer speakers (not the 003). This leads to going back and forth to System Preferences, selecting the 003, opening iTunes, it doesn’t work, lather, rinse, and repeat.

Typically, all you need to do is restart the Mac, and everything should work. This is fine if the 003 is always connected to the Mac. Once it works, it’ll always work.

However, if you’re like me, using a Macbook, taking it in and out of the studio, you’ll be plugging and unplugging the 003 regularly. And it seems that the only way to make it work is to restart the machine every time. That’s lame.

So what do I do? I actually just give in. I run a Y cable from the 1/8″ output on my Macbook to the 1/4″ left and right Aux inputs on the 003. That way, whenever I want to listen to something in iTunes or from YouTube, I simply press the “Aux In” button on the 003. 

This is obviously not an ideal solution, since the digital-to-analog converters on that Macbook’s headphone output are pretty awful. However, I’m usually not doing any critical listening from iTunes or the internet. I simply want to hear the mp3 a friend of mine just emailed me…or something like that.

If I ever want to do some critical listening, I’ll either restart the computer or import the audio into Pro Tools (or listen via the Workspace browser inside Pro Tools). That way I’ll be able to listen through the much nicer digital-to-analog converters on the 003.

I know this isn’t the ideal solution, but this is what I’ve found to work for me. I hope this helps, Josh!

Any other suggestions? Leave a comment.

  • I have a 003 and Imac set up also. I’m running protools 8.3 and have had some problems running using the core audio driver also and been using the AUX send trick that you mentioned. I recently had to reinstall my protools software and low and behold the IMAC started to recognise that the 003 could be used using the core audio driver. This had never worked for me up until the reinstallation – then you just use the 3/4 HP2 monitor button and the 003 is now doing the DA conversion. I have no idea why it started to work, But I had assumed that it was a digidesign software glitch for protools 8, Snow leopard and the 003 all somehow being incompatible. Anyhow it does sound a fair bit better using the 003 as the master sound card. Just a rant really…

  • protools le on pc xp or vista – make audio internal must off – but windows media player and win amp working with 003 – itunes work but audio noise – when you open window player look on led panel if mentio n – working so you can play cd or mp3 file – protools 7.4 up tp 8.01 already ready for windows audio – problem rising when you want play video or audio via internet – only winamp working – you must browsing used win amp

  • Shawn Manigly

    yea, it took a minute to get my monitor volume level, the digi output volume, and the computer volume to be relatively level. but once you do, you’re good to go.

  • Shawn Manigly

    If you’re monitors have 1/8″ input, like mine, the Samson 5a Series, you could just run a stereo 1/8″ out to your monitor aux in.

    This is how I use Melodyne, iTunes, and all other computer audio with my monitors.

    • Good point, Shawn. My only issue with that is perhaps not having volume control over the computer signal. But I guess the computer should have its own volume control, so I guess that wouldn’t be much of an issue. Nice.

  • Thanks Joe! I tried the AUX In and the sound is really brittle. I’m gunna have to try setting my preferences to the 003 after work today.

    Thanks again Joe, and as always…

  • Dan

    if you are on vista, you can open the start menu and search for “sound”.

    Under “playback” you should see various options including your 002/003 (sometimes just called HD audio device). You can select it as your default. I used to do this in XP as well, but I can’t remember the process. Should be similar.