Monitoring microphone input on a Mac

When your USB sound interface or microphone doesn’t have a headphone output that lets you monitor your voice, and your recording software doesn’t have a direct monitor function either, there are a few tools that can help.

Built-in options

These come with your Mac, but there might be a significant delay or CPU load, which can make these options unusable. But why not try them first?

Quicktime Player

Audio recording in Quicktime

  1. Launch Quicktime
  2. Select File > New Audio Recording
  3. Select your microphone using the small v next to the recording button
  4. Slide the volume control all the way to the right

You should now hear yourself in your headphones. No need to actually record in Quicktime.

Garageband

  1. Start with an empty project or if using a template, delete pre-configured tracks (mark track, then Track > Delete Track)
  2. Add a new track: Track > New Track...
    • select Real Instrument
    • open Instrument Setup and select your devices.
    • check I want to hear my instrument as I play and record.
    • click Create
  3. You should now hear yourself.

GarageBand track settings
If necessary, you can adjust the settings at the bottom right (in the Browse tab). There’s also an orange-colored on/off switch for the monitoring on the track itself.

3rd-party

If the onboard tools don’t do the trick for you, there are a couple alternatives. These are all a bit old, but so far still seem to work well.

LineIn

This is one of Rogue Amoeba’s legacy applications. They offer it for free and the rest is pretty much self-explanatory.
Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 13.09.51

Audio Monitor

Download (alternative download) and open it and you’ll see a bunch of files, but all you need is the AudioMonitor. Drop it into your applications folder. The first time you run it, you will have to right-click it and select open.


Select your audio devices and click Play Through.