Soundflower, Audio Drivers, and M1 Macs
If you are looking to capture the system audio on your Mac, you may be looking for the popular free and open source audio driver Soundflower to get the job done. However, M1 Macs have a completely different type of processor than Intel Macs and all audio drivers have to be converted to be compatible with the new processors.
Unfortunately, the Soundflower project has not been development further after the release of MacOS Catalina. Some have had success using it on Big Sur with Intel Macs, but it will not work at all on an M1 Mac. Do not worry, though. There are currently alternatives out there that can also help capture the system audio on M1 Macs.
BlackHole Audio Driver
BlackHole is a great free, open source alternative to use instead of Soundflower. It has been updated to work with Big Sur and is compatible with M1 Macs. It is kept up to date by Devin Roth at Existential Audio and contributors on Github.
Loopback is a very stable and capable program for helping capture the system audio on an M1 mac, however it comes at a cost. If you find that BlackHole is not working properly for you, it is recommended you check out Loopback. While the full app will cost you ~$99, there is a free unlimited trial that will allow you to use the program for 10 minutes at a time. After 10 minutes, Loopback will add static noise to your audio, but if you reset the program it will reset the 10 minute timer.
Made by the same company as Loopback, Rogue Amoeba has another piece of software called Audio Hijack that can be used to capture the desktop audio on your M1 Mac. The price is a bit lower, at $59, and offers the same unlimited free trial as Loopback. So if your project has a short time requirement, you could potentially get by with the free trial.
It is sad to see that Soundflower has not continued development past MacOS Catalina, as the program was loved by many and became the staple for audio recording on MacOS. Fortunately, we now have plenty of options to choose from that work with the new M1 Macs.
Now that you have a newly functioning audio driver, you should check out AVTouchBar, one of the coolest uses for it yet (I’m biased I know). AVTouchBar is an audio visualizer for the touch bar that has some great animations and works with the system audio when using one of the options above. Check it out here!
Have another audio driver not mentioned here? Drop a comment down below and I will test and add it to the article!
Jake is a professional baseball player that was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. He played in the minor leagues for the Blue Jays for 5 years until he was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the rule 5 draft in 2020. In his spare time, he enjoys creating technology videos on YouTube and pursuing creative technologies including an audio visualizer for the touch bar on MacBook Pros.