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.