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What is the best way to output the sound of my macbook to my hifi system without using the headphone jack? Is there a way to use bluetooth or airplay or whatever to output all sound (and I mean not only iTunes Music) ?

What hardware do I need for this?

Since Airfoil has a very high latency, is there another solution that has a latency under 1 second?

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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you have a newer Mac with Mountain Lion you can also use it's built in AirPlay functionality.

Supported models as announced by Apple.

AirPlay Mirroring requires a second-generation Apple TV or later, and is supported on the following Mac models: iMac (Mid 2011 or newer), Mac mini (Mid 2011 or newer), MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or newer), and MacBook Pro (Early 2011 or newer).

Go to System Preferences->Sound and select Apple TV from the Output tab. This will play all system sound from your Mac.

You can probably do this on per App basis also, but I haven't done this my self. You can find an article about this from here: http://joris.kluivers.nl/blog/2012/07/25/per-application-airplay-in-mountain-lion/

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I now found a good solution. The Belkin Bluetooth Receiver. It only costs 30$. Way cheaper than the AirPort+Airfoil Solution. AND it only has 100-400ms latency. Cheaper, faster and better sound.

But one final note:

You have to change the bluetooth settings a bit to make it sound perfect. Disable bluetooth, add the following lines and reboot.

defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Apple Bitpool Max (editable)" 80 
defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Apple Bitpool Min (editable)" 48 
defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Apple Initial Bitpool (editable)" 40 
defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Negotiated Bitpool" 58 
defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Negotiated Bitpool Max" 58 
defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Negotiated Bitpool Min" 48 
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Had no idea Bluetooth would be the better option. Great find! –  canderson Sep 24 '11 at 18:54
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This is what the Apple Airport Express hardware WiFi network device was designed to do.

AirPlay takes the music from the iTunes library on your computer and sends it wirelessly to any stereo or speakers in your home. All you have to do is plug an AirPort Express into an electrical outlet near those speakers, then connect them with an audio cable (sold separately).

Apple Airport Express will work with any stereo hifi audio system with audio line inputs. That's what makes it versatile and useful. It does not require the latest audio systems that incorporate AirPlay.

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I wrote: not only iTunes, I want to hear every sound my Mac makes, including system notification sounds. –  bitboxer Sep 23 '11 at 21:25
    
Yes, this hardware will enable you to do that, if I'm not mistaken. Configuring audio routing for other sounds besides iTunes can be done using additional software, such as Airfoil, mentioned by Chris, with the Airport Express hardware. –  Wheat Williams Sep 23 '11 at 21:29
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Airfoil is probably your best bet as far as software goes. It's an app that captures any sound from your machine and beams it to a variety of devices: iOS devices, other Macs, and Airplay devices such as an Apple TV or Airport Express.

As for the hardware, some hi-fi systems are starting to build in Airplay (which is the new wireless audio protocol Apple has introduce). If you don't want to buy a whole new stereo, I'd buy an Apple TV. $99 bucks for wireless audio and video is a pretty good bargain in my book. And, more and more apps and devices will take advantage of Airplay (including video Airplay) as iOS 5 rolls around.

You could also use an Airport Express, but that would limit you to audio only.

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How much latency has this? More than 300ms? –  bitboxer Sep 23 '11 at 21:27
    
yes, airfoil has about 2700ms worth of latency usually. If you are trying to watch a movie, you can sync with most video software (like VNC). If you are talking about live performance with MIDI instruments etc, I would go still go with cables. –  lemonginger Sep 24 '11 at 0:46
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Isn't there a solution that has a lower latency than this? 2700 ms is really waaaay to much for me. –  bitboxer Sep 24 '11 at 5:07
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