To be brutally honest about this review, most Mac users have no need for an audio switcher app. Why not? My non-scientific survey says most users don’t plugin microphones or other audio sources into their Macs.
Those that do understand the problem. The Mac’s audio source utility– the Audio MIDI Setup app– is inconvenient at best, and somewhat arcane to use. That explains why there are other utilities which enable Mac users to switch easily between different audio sources. Here are three, and two have almost the same name.
Click, And Ye Shall Switch
The Mac’s built-in audio switcher utility is the Audio Devices section within Audio MIDI Setup app, which is inconveniently located in the Applications > Utilities folder. It displays each of the audio input and/or output devices and gives you controls over format, channel, volume, and various values.
Those controls are all well and good but inconvenient to retrieve, not always self-explanatory with options (sources can be combined), and typical Apple. It’s just there.
Is there a better solution?
Yes, and the name is AudioSwitcher. Note the name. Audio and Switcher but all one word. That’s important as you’ll see in a moment. For users with multiple audio devices connected to their Macs, the 99-cent price tag for AudioSwitcher (all one word) is dirt cheap. The app lives in the Menubar and gives users plenty of control over audio inputs and outputs, including volume and a simple one-click way to mute a specific device.
AudioSwitcher makes it drop dead simple to switch between multiple audio sources with a single click to the Menubar. There’s no need to open System Preferences or dig around in the Utilities folder to find Audio MIDI Setup. It’s there. It’s simple. It works. It gets great reviews. It’s cheap.
There are some things I want AudioSwitcher to do but simply cannot be done, thanks to Apple’s inherent hardware limitations. For example, I’d like control over HDMI volume. No. Can. Do. And, I’d like to listen with headphones and switch to outside speakers. No. Can. Do. Finally, I would like to be able to send sound to wireless and non-wireless speakers and keep them in sync. No. Can. Do. Also, no multiple AirPlay devices, either. Those options would be nice in AudioSwitcher but the limitations belong to Apple and physics, not the utility.
The Mac App Store has another utility named Audio Switcher (two words, not one) which does something similar to the aforementioned AudioSwitcher, but different, and it’s priced differently, too.
Simply put, Audio Switcher also lets you switch back and forth between connected audio devices on your Mac; USB, FireWire, AirPlay, Thunderbolt, the Mac’s built-in audio and microphone, and all with a single click.
AudioSwitcher has a one-click easily accessible interface, while Audio Switcher gets the interface to the screen in a click, but depending upon your audio requirements, it may need additional clicks to find the setting you want. AudioSwitcher– the one I use– has a demo try-before-you-buy version and is priced at 99-cents.