Improve Your Mac’s Audio by Combining Speakers

Originally published at: Improve Your Mac’s Audio by Combining Speakers - TidBITS

After his 15-year-old Altec Lansing FX6201 speakers died, Adam Engst figured out how to bond the speakers in his 27-inch iMac and Thunderbolt Display to tide him over until he can decide on the best external replacement speakers.

For testing speaker balance, I find that the title track form Al Stewart’s album Year of the Cat is great. The intro starts out solely in the left speaker and stays that way for 34 seconds. Afterwards,the percussion is mainly in the right speaker with the rest of the sound mixed between the speakers.

For testing mid-range and treble, I’ve always liked the the track I Think It’s Going to Work Out Fine from Ry Cooder’s Bop til You Drop.

Hm, for balance wouldn’t it be simpler and more accurate to find a mono recording, close your eyes, & fiddle with it until it seems to be in front of your nose?

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Linking to this if you want to consider new speakers…

Using a mono track is fine for determining balance, but if you also want to test separation, it’s great to have a track that clearly has different things happening in the left and right channels.

Thank you! This article is another reason that I love subscribing to Tidbits. Never did I think to combine audio outputs from two monitors, but this afternoon, for the first time ever, I jammed out to a sorta-kinda-stereo sound system. Thank you for sharing — plus recommending Rogue Amoeba for volume control.


Huh, Interesting. Stereo separation, you mean? That’s something audio engineers can and do manipulate in producing a mix, and it can vary wildly from one recording to another—a lot of 60s rock recordings have instruments popping up in all sorts of unlikely places. So I would think it would be an unreliable way of determining speaker position?

Anyway–the track you recommend is one of my favorites on one of my favorite CDs. As I recall Bop 'til You Drop was either the first or one of the first digitally recorded rock albums. Have you noticed how low its level is in comparison to other CDs? I suspect that was because they were taking full advantage of the enhanced S/N ratio of digital technology. I’m continually having to adjust the volume 'way up when “I Think It’s Going to Turn Out Fine” comes around on my iTunes playlist.

Okay, I used to be into connected speakers… but a few years ago I got religion…not really, but I did leapfrog into wireless sound on a SONOS system. Outstanding sound quality and volume separation and control.-easy to set up, easy to add rooms and even coordinate all, at the same time! Still in love with a pair of 3 s linked to a beam tv sound bar,. Also serves surround sound audio only, and a portable move speaker temporarily in the kitchen, or the deck. Separate app for iOS and OS Never a regret…good value for the price. Oh yeah , I stream tune in, Pandora, prime music, iTunes and my own library HD attached to the router… so flexible !

@rlennox I did the same 2 years ago! Except I went with the Ikea Sonos bookshelf speakers.

It was a true revelation for me. Through all of my research and subsequent purchases (JBL LS305, audio interfaces, cables, etc.) I realized that I just really want to play an enhanced radio in my office area.

Sound and music are much like wine to me. I only know what tastes good and doesn’t give me a headache. But I can’t discern a wine’s “oakiness” and the subtle hints of caramel, blackberry, and rodent droppings.

Don’t get me wrong–I totally dig all music equipment and I really wanted to be that audio guy. I love music but I’m not a musician nor a sound engineer.

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I kind of did the same, but on a less expensive level.

I really really want a 5.1 system to listen to some box sets I’ve been collecting. I used to play music and think I still have a reasonably good ear. But I have to be honest with myself and say I’ve never been able to afford a top of the line system, and truth be told the best system I have in my life right now is in my 2004 car (and that’s mostly stock, it was just a decent system for its time).

I had a small tuner and speakers about 10 years ago but they started acting up and I came to the realization that I really only listened to my iPod though them, and those three pieces took up a LOT of space for iPod playing. I would also walk around with my phone playing in my pocket.

I started working from home more and thought, how can I setup something in my office to stream music without running more wires in an already cluttered environment? Coincidentally a coworker brought a small BT speaker into the office we shared, I did some research and found Anker!

I love loud music but can’t work with loud music so did I really need to spend a lot money for great sounding loud speakers? Probably not. The first one I bought - yes one - was just a small cube BT speaker that I sat across the room. That finally died and in 2019 I searched again, and ended up with Anker Soundcore Flares. I bought 2 so I can have stereo this time. I looked at Sonos (needed power) and others (even did my famous spreadsheet comparison) but these checked my boxes at a reasonable to me price ($110/pair)

I found out after I got them that the BT wouldn’t reach outside, so I did go back online to buy a Varo wifi speaker. That one I tend to carry around the house and outside because the range is greater.

My biggest sticking point was getting battery operated speakers.

I have since found I can’t run both BT and WiFi speakers at the same time, but I can run either of them plus the computer speakers if I want.

And sadly setup is always attached to your phone, but both products allowed me to delete the apps once that was done.

(ps I love speaker conversations!)