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As in the subject, I've searched for the answer to this online already, but found nothing. I am advanced user myself, but have not found any way to do this.

The gist - I have my preferred audio input device, which is a USB microphone. I also do have my preferred audio output device, which is wireless headphones. These headphones also have built-in mic. The issue is that whenever I connect my headphones (turn them on -> automatic connection via bluetooth), the audio devices on my mac automatically change. I am fine with automatic switching of audio output device, but audio input is annoying one is 100% of time after turning on my wireless headphones I need to open sound preferences and change input device to USB microphone. From what I observed, this happens for any new input device that connects to macos.

The question: Is there any way to disable automatic switching of audio input device whenever new one connects?

PS: I have seen these Qs, but there is no acceptable answer:

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  • I figured out an Applescript to set audio output; maybe it could be re-written for input… apple.stackexchange.com/a/218223/85275 – Tetsujin Nov 1 '20 at 15:36
  • Hmm… I see one of those linked questions already has a pre-made app that will do what my script would. idk how to make it fully automatic, & I don't use anything with bluetooth audio I could test. – Tetsujin Nov 1 '20 at 15:41
  • The problem with trying to automate Bluetooth connected devices is that they disappear. It remembers the Bluetooth profile but the audio device itself is removed upon disconnect. So any reference to it can possibly go stale. Also, for audio recording (comments in answer below), you shouldn't be using Bluetooth, but rather a hard wired device. Pro grade wireless audio devices for recording are very, very expensive because it's not easy to get quality sound over consumer BT signals. – Allan Nov 1 '20 at 16:04
  • Some links I remembered from another answer - amateur wireless mic connection prices vs actual Pro prices You'd be advised to sit down first. – Tetsujin Nov 1 '20 at 16:26
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I haven't tested it, but you could try creating an Aggregate device in Audio MIDI Setup.app that contains both your USB Mic and your Bluetooth headphones.

That way, the 'device' doesn't change when you connect your headphones: it's just a part of the existing selected device.

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No. This is the prescribed behavior as you've already noticed.

I am fine with automatic switching of audio output device, but audio input...

How is the OS supposed to differentiate the difference between the one (device) you're OK with and the one you're not? The way macOS sees this is that you've plugged in two distinct audio devices - input and output. It then switches to them because your Mac the assumes you want to use that device now as you've connected it; so it switches to it.

A quick workaround would be to disconnect and reconnect your USB microphone after connecting your headset. You would probably have much better results if you connected the headset via cable to a USB DAC rather than Bluetooth. This way, audio always sees the USB as connected whether or not a headset is connected - the auto switch won't engage.

I do this with my Bluetooth Sennheiser headset (headphones and mic) effectively turning it into a headset only device.


Audio Recording

I'm adding this in here because the OP mentioned in comments that this was for an "audio recording" setup. This section will attempt to address issues in this context.

Your Bluetooth headset is the wrong tool for the job.

macOS is designed to be (out of the box), something that you plug in an it goes to work. I'm not saying it can't be used for audio recording. What I'm saying is that it's architecture for the user to open the lid connect their things and start working. This includes audio devices and the behavior you're seeing is that philosophy in action. Why they chose not to do allow you to tweak it is entirely an Apple question.

So, whether Apple intended this behavior or not, you're using the wrong gear to record audio.

Bluetooth headsets are probably the worst thing you can do for audio recording/production. You have inherent latency (radio signals are slower than electrical signals which travel the speed of light), the DAC inside the Bluetooth headset is nowhere as robust as the DACs of proper equipment and you don't get the necessary, granular, control necessary for proper audio recording. It's also prone to external interference, noise, and general signal quality issues.

Just taking a very simple example - watch the evening news where they interview someone remotely and you can easily see the difference between someone with Airpods (as good as they are) and someone who spent a little bit extra on a proper microphone, a proper headset - and this is before we get into acoustic foam and mixers and gear!

If your goal is to record audio, you need a quality microphone and a quality interface (aka a mixer). If you're just getting started, you don't need to spend buckets of cash to make this happen. You can get a proper microphone input for under $50USD. This will allow you to have a quality DAC, an input that you can control and a monitor port that will allow you to hear your input (your voice) before and after it goes through your Mac.

As you grow and add instruments or more voices to your recordings, your equipment should grow along with you.

Bottom Line

A Bluetooth headset is designed for listening or making phone calls. Can you do recordings with it? Sure. However, it's not designed for it and it will show. You need the right gear for the job: a quality microphone and a proper interface to capture and/or output that sound. Short of that, and the quality of your final product will suffer.

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  • I do understand the logic behind this. Though fascinated that there is no switch (even hidden one) to disable this behavior. – Alexey Kamenskiy Nov 1 '20 at 15:28
  • While USB DAC is great for audio recording (and that’s what I am trying to do here). That’s a bit of an investment for now. If I would get some traction on my work and people will be interested then sure I could spend a couple of hundreds on an interface. But that’s not what the question is about right now. Specially I don’t know any audio interfaces that support Bluetooth headphones:P – Alexey Kamenskiy Nov 1 '20 at 15:32
  • There's no way to tweak that setting, I'm trying to write a canonical answer because this comes up all the time and each user saying "my question is different because of <device> or <connection>." Unfortunately, it's the same problem as I described. The DAC, however is $30 USD, not "hundreds.". I have two of these personally...one on my Mac and another in my FreeBSD box in the garage. – Allan Nov 1 '20 at 15:37
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    I think some of these design decisions have been driven in the past decade or so by the transition in the Mac from being a tool used by graphics, video & sound design professionals, towards becoming more of a "lifestyle" choice following the success of iPod/iPhone etc. Bluetooth is definitely one of the 'lifestyle' technologies, & has no place at all in any pro environment. – Tetsujin Nov 1 '20 at 17:23

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