11 May Using Loopback to send audio from one application to another
OS X has a nice built-in feature called IAC (Inter-app Communication) that allows you to connect MIDI applications together and communicate with each other. (There’s nothing built into Windows but there are third party applications like virtualMIDI that do the same kind of thing.)
However, there is no out-of-the-box mechanism to allow audio to be shared like this. So what do you do if you have a great audio application that you’d like to use with Gig Performer but that application doesn’t exist in a plugin format that can be loaded directly into Gig Performer?
Turns out there are several solutions out there. There are two free tools available, SoundFlower (macOS only) and Jack which is available for both Mac and Windows. The former has been around for many years, developed originally by Cycling74 , but it’s not really maintained any more so you’re basically on your own. As for Jack, while it is supposedly very flexible, I have struggled with it every time I’ve tried to use it in the past.
However, last year, much to my delight, Rogue Amoeba, makers of the brilliant Audio Hijack application (which is worth checking out if you need to capture system audio for other purposes, nothing to do with Gig Performer), released an application called Loopback (Mac only) which makes it really easy to create virtual audio “cables” to let you connect the output of one audio application to the input of another. Even better, you can create a virtual audio interface and by using the aggregate mechanism built into OS X you can create a “new” audio interface that consists of your existing physical audio interface and some extra virtual channels that just appear as extra audio ports.
For Gig Performer users, there are at least two very interesting and powerful uses for Loopback.
- You can leverage audio functionality available in Max, Bidule or even such esoteric programs such as SuperCollider and feed audio from them (or to them) to (or from) Gig Performer.
- You can leverage the multi-instance feature of Gig Performer to run a looper (say) continuously in a secondary Gig Performer instance and feed its audio output back to your main Gig Performer instance where you can use different rackspaces to perform different audio processing of the looper output.
I have been using Loopback on tour for about 6 months to feed audio from Max back into Gig Performer. To be honest, I’d almost forgotten it was part of my setup and I just never have to interact with it. From my perspective, the best thing about Loopback is that you can (really easily) set it, forget it and it just works. As far as I’m concerned, that’s worth the price of admission!
Loopback is not free but Rogue Amoeba is offering a $25 discount for Loopback for customers who have purchased the Mac version of Gig Performer. Those of you who have been following our blogs will be aware that we do not receive any portion of such sales so that you can be sure our recommendations are completely unbiased. More on our policy here.
Note: if you are on Windows, there is an application called LoopBeAudio available that appears to have similar functionality. However, none of us at Deskew Technologies have tried it so I am unable to say anything about it (either good or bad) so I’m just bringing it to your attention in case it is of interest to you.