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Microphone Month 4


Pro Tools is playing out of my built-in speakers instead of my interface.

If Pro Tools is playing through your computer’s built-in speakers, check your Playback Engine settings. The Playback Engine is the device that Pro Tools will use for audio and MIDI input/output. When Pro Tools switches to the built-in speakers instead of your interface, it usually means the Playback Engine has changed and you just need to switch it back.

Solution: Pro Tools Playback Engine

Pro Tools Playback Engine Window


  1. Click Setup and choose Playback Engine.
  2. Select your interface from the drop down menu at the top.




The video below will show you how to set your playback engine in Pro Tools 9 and higher.

Common Causes

If this happens regularly, check out these common causes… and how to fix them.

  • #1 Cause: Your hard drive went to sleep. In order to save power, some computers will tell their hard drive(s) to go to sleep when not in use. When this happens, the operating system un-mounts audio and MIDI drivers. It’s sorta like the OS kicks everyone out before it puts the drive(s) to bed.
    • Solution: Set your computer to never sleep using our Mac and PC optimization guides.
  • #2 Cause: Out-of-date driversPowered USB Hub
    • Solution: Download and Install the latest driver updates for your interface.
  • #3 Cause: It got unplugged. Whether you’re connecting a new hard drive or another keyboard, it seems like we’re constantly plugging and unplugging devices in an ever growing pile of cable-spaghetti. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there… and most of us are still there. With that many cables in play, it’s easy to unplug the wrong one.
    • Solution: Make sure your cable is plugged in. Follow the cable all the way from your interface to the computer -you may even want to unplug it and plug it back in.
  • #4 Cause: Passive USB Hubs.  Hubs are a necessity for a lot of us -especially if you’re recording on a laptop- but the reality is, they’re dividing the power and bandwidth of 1 USB port by however many ports are on the hub. With a passive hub, whatever resources were available to the port the hub is are getting distributed (and not always evenly) to each of the ports on the hub. For example: A port on a hub with 5 jacks could have 1/5th (or less) of the power of the port on your computer. Furthermore, some hubs are so power hungry that they’ll starve devices on your computer’s other ports. Yikes!
    • Solution: Ditch the hub or Power Up! If at all possible, ditch the hub. If that’s not an option, get a powered USB hub. In addition to the USB cable that plugs into the computer, these hubs will have a power adapter that plugs into the wall. This provides additional power to the devices in the hub.
    • Pro Tip: Connect big devices like your interface, keyboards, hard drives, etc. directly to the computer, but use the hub for smaller stuff like your computer’s mouse and keyboard.


Helpful Links

Tech Tip: How to set your Pro Tools Playback Engine

Pro Tools won’t recognize my interface!

Pro Tools Troubleshooting Guide

How do I setup the Pro Tools Playback Engine (Versions 9 and up)?

Pro Tools tells me that “The current playback engine does not support a sample rate of…”

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