You can easily capture, record and export live streaming audio, without destroying the quality, using Soundflower and Audacity, which are free tools. This following method can also be used to capture whatever sound that is played on your Mac machine.

  1. Download and install the latest Open-Source Audio Routing tool Soundflower.
  2. Download and install the excellent Open-Source Audio Editing tool Audacity.
  3. If required and you wish to export the captured/recorded audio stream to MP3 file format,
    • Download and install LAME MP3 Encoder as well. Or get it directly from here. Once installed, go to Audacity -> Preferences -> Libraries and verify whether it’s properly located. If not click on the «Locate» button to locate it.
    • Or go to Audacity -> Preferences -> Libraries and click on «Download» button and follow it from thereon.

Audacity Preferences Window

Start Soundflower (Soundflowerbed) and if required, complete the initial configuration. Soundflower icon will now be sitting on the Task Bar.

Soundflower Menu on Task Bar

Soundflower has two modes: 1) Soundflower (2ch) – two channel and 2) Soundflower (16ch) – 16 channel along with other configured Audio Input/Output peripherals. While Mac’s Internal Speaker has 0 Inputs/2 Outputs and Internal Mic has 2 Inputs/0 Outputs, Soundflower (2ch) has 2 Inputs/2 Outputs and Soundflower (16ch) has 16 Inputs/16 Outputs.

Now to capture/record live streaming audios:

  1. Go to System Preferences,  -> System Preferences -> Sound -> Output and select Soundflower (2ch) as Output.System Preferences Sound
  2. Under Sound Effects, disable all sound effects so that they will not interfere and spoil a clean recording process.
  3. Now launch Audacity.
    • Either go to Audacity -> Preferences -> Audio I/O, and under Recording, change the Device to Soundflower (2ch). Leave the Output Device as Built-in Output, so that you can monitor the recording process.

    • Or change the settings directly in Audacity itself.

Now, you can easily record any audio streamed through internet with great quality.

First start the Audacity Recording by clicking on Record button. Then start any internet or other live stream audio (which you have already readied for playback) so that recording goes correctly. Later, you can edit the recorded sound, add effects or make any other audio manipulation that can be done using Audacity.

Once recording is done and stopped, go to File -> Export, select your favorite format like mp3, wav, aiff, etc. and click on Save. It will open another window for Tag Editting. Fill it if required or just proceed with exporting. Voilà, now you have recorded and exported a live streaming audio with same quality as streamed using Soundflower and Audacity.

Don’t forget to change the audio settings back to normal after recording your favorite audio streaming. And please respect Copyright rules.

Edited later:

A) Soundflower works great with QuickTime 7.x as well (Mine is “Pro”. I’m not sure about “Non Pro”). But no luck with QuickTime 10.x.

B) To listen to playback while recording, do the following:

  1. Launch Soundflower. From menu, under Soundflower (2ch), select “Built-in Output” (pervious one would be “None (OFF)“).
  2. Open System Preferences. Under Sound, set Soundflower (2ch) as both Output and Input.
  3. Now open Audacity. Set Soundflower (2ch) as “Recording Device” and 2 (Stereo) as “Recording Channels”. Leave Built-in Output as “Playback device”.

C) Suggestion:

Want to try something simple, I recommend Wondershare AllMyMusic. Lightweight. User friendly. Intuitive.

Key features:

  • Easy to Use – Just One-Click Smart Recording.
  • Play and Record Automatically – Records only when Audio is played. Stops and Splits when Silence.
  • Record Audio with 100% Original Quality (1:1 Quality Ratio Lossless Audio).
  • Identify Songs and get Music Info.
  • Personalize Your Recordings – Tag Editing, Metadata Retrieval, etc.
  • Seamless Integration with OS and iTunes.
  • Drag and Drop CD Burning Tool.
  • Record Unlimited Free Music – Over 500 Radio Stations, YouTube, Pandora, Yahoo Music, etc.
  • Available for both Mac and Windows.

Technical specifications for Mac – Supported O/P format and settings:

  • Format           :  MP3 (*.mp3), M4A (*.m4a)
  • Sample Rate   :  44100Hz
  • Encoder         :  .mp3:(MP3),  .m4a:(AAC)
  • Bit Rate          :  256kbps, 320kbps

Update 1 (For El Capitan):

SoundFlower is broken in Mac OS X El Capitan. Relax, there is a solution, in fact a better one.

  • Download the newest version from here: Soundflower 2 (Signed. Beta version)
  • Double click to mount the downloaded .dmg file.
  • Run “Uninstall Soundflower.scpt
  • REBOOT. It is a must. You need to Reboot.
  • Run the installer “Soundflower.pkg“. That’s it!

Previous SoundFlower is 2ch & 16ch. This one is 2ch & 64ch. You cannot find this new version installed in “Application” folder and hence you cannot directly launch it. It is installed as “Kernel Extension“. But, you can find SoundFlower options in “System Preferences -> Sound” and “Audacity Preferences“. Enjoy!

Update 2 (For QuickTime Player):

SoundFlower works (including the newest version) great with QuickTime Player 10.x (recent one is 10.4 (854)) as well.

  • Go to “System Preferences -> Sound
  • Set both “Input” and “Output” as SoundFlower 2ch
  • Open QuickTime Player -> File -> New Audio Recording

And start recording the streaming audio (or whatever the system sound) flawlessly. Enjoy!

Thanks for the read and please leave comments 🙂