Want to have a different sound volume for each app you use? Perhaps some more oomph when you’re in Safari and a reverb while listening to iTunes? In that case, SoundSource 4 is your friend. It’s Rogue Amoeba’s fourth version of this unobtrusive tool and it’s the most advanced Mac audio access and control panel to date.
SoundSource 4 is a control panel that allows you to set audio for each separate app you’re using. It’s a fourth generation app with one feature less than in its predecessor: “Play-thru” has been removed – there’s an explanation on Rogue Amoeba’s site why they had to do that.
I’ve never quite understood why you would need play-through, except perhaps for things like a Skype recording in which case I’d prefer using Audio Hijack, a complete recording solution from Rogue Amoeba. I frequently use that instead of Logic Pro X when I’m recording something that doesn’t need the heavy lifting of Apple’s DAW. I sometimes even prefer it above ScreenFlow’s built-in audio recording functionality.
So, what has improved then in SoundSource 4? Well, a lot. For starters, the background audio capturing engine, ACE, has been updated and now behaves as if it’s not there – not interfering with any other app whatsoever. That sometimes used to be a problem. The control panel can be pinned, i.e. made to float freely or appear in the menu only and you can launch the panel using a customisable shortcut.
The biggest improvements come from the interface and the fact that you can now stick all sorts of audio effects – Audio Unit effects, even – on the output of your app. Let’s say you want to listen to church organ in Youtube via Safari. You can set the included 10-band Lagutin equaliser to a preset – or custom setting – that boosts the organ’s low tones.
Better yet, you can have that organ sound as if it’s located in deep space if you happen to have one of the Exponential Audio (now iZotope) reverb plug-ins.
A Magic Boost gives more silent passages a hefty boost while leaving the louder parts alone. It’s not my cup-o-tea, to be honest, but many people seem to like that.
Of course, Safari isn’t the only app you can set up for different playback volume and “feel”. iTunes is an obvious choice as is any other audio player that doesn’t take over your system the way audiophile player Audirvana Plus does.
You can even set your alert sounds to be louder than the audio output of the rest of your system and, of course, you can have different apps play audio through different audio interfaces.
One thing, though: SoundSource does take up some of your memory. On my system, it consumes almost 100MB which means it’s in my top 10 of memory consumers, after Apogee Control with FX Rack (beta), Little Snitch Monitor, Ulysses (the text editor I’m using) and Brave, the browser that I happen to have running right now.
Despite that it’s not terribly economic to run in terms of memory, SoundSource 4 is a very nice app to have active, because it puts you in total control of your audio output.