In this article and an upcoming followup, we’re going to show you a number of ways to share audio to more than one person at a time. The first method is actually a pretty nifty technical trick that lets you share your Mac’s audio output to two pairs of Bluetooth headphones at the same time. This method also works with a combination of wired headphones plugged into the headphone jack on your Mac and a Bluetooth headset. Here’s how to set this up:
1) Before you begin, make sure that the Bluetooth headphones you wish to use are paired with your Mac, or that wired headphones are plugged in. Unsure of how to pair Bluetooth headphones with a Mac? Check out this Apple support document: support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/connect-a-bluetooth-device-with-your-mac-blth1004/mac.
2) Now launch the Audio MIDI Setup app, which is found in the Utilities folder inside the Mac Applications folder. You can quickly navigate to the Utilities folder by selecting Go > Utilities from the menu bar when in the Finder. Audio MIDI Setup is easy to find: it looks like a small piano keyboard (see screenshot at right).
In the following steps, we’ll use Audio MIDI Setup to create a Multi-Output Device (type: Aggregate Device) that gives your Mac the ability to output to more than one headset at a time.
3) Begin by once again making sure that the headphones you’re going to share are listed in the left sidebar. In this example, I’ll use two devices: “Steve’s AirPods” and “Built-In Output” (the headphones) for output. You can ensure that the headphones are indeed now being used for Built-In Output by checking the source — “Headphones” (see screenshot below).
4) Click the plus ( + ) button on the lower left of the list of audio devices and select “Create Multi-Output Device”.
5) Click on the Multi-Output Device you just created to select it, then select “Use This Device for Sound Output” from the gear menu at the bottom of the sidebar. If you’d like to play sound alerts and effects through the audio device as well, select “Play Alerts and Sound Effects Through This Device” from the same menu (see screenshot below).
6) Now we’re ready to select our two pairs of headphones. In the list of example audio devices, I’ll check the boxes next to “Steve’s AirPods” and “Built-in Output” (the cheap wired headphones I’m using for this example — see screenshot below).
7) Next, we have to set up one device as the “Master” output device and another as the “Slave”. Notice in the screenshot above that the Master Device is listed as Built-in Output. As wired headphones do not exhibit any lag in receiving the sound signal from the Mac, I’ll set them as my Master Device. For the AirPods, which can experience just a tiny bit of lag, I’ll check the “Drift Correction” box to keep the two sets of headphones in perfect synchrony.
8) Everything is now set up properly so you can Quit the Audio MIDI Setup app. To begin sending Mac audio to both headphones, launch System Preferences from the Dock or Apple menu, click on the Sound panel, click on the Output tab, then select the Multi-Output device from the list of audio output devices (see screenshot below).
In the next article in this series, we’ll look at some much more common ways to share sound with friends, both from iOS devices and Macs.