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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

The flexibility of Audio Hijack 3

Audio Hijack 3 has become my go-to tool for recording audio for podcasts and pretty much everything else on my Mac. But even if you’re already using Audio Hijack, you may not realize just how flexible its modular, block-building approach allows it to be.

Let me give you two examples. The first one comes from the Session I use for recording and live streaming podcasts on The Incomparable or Relay FM.

This session is doing an immense number of things at once. It’s recording my microphone as a full-quality mono WAV, deposited to my Desktop, named something like jason-20170227-0834, indicating the date and time the recording was started. It’s recording the audio from Skype and saving that to the Desktop, so I can use it as a reference (or backup if one of my panelists fails to record their own microphone). It’s routing the Skype audio into my USB audio interface so I can hear people’s voices in my headphones.

It’s also routing both sets of audio through Rogue Amoeba’s Loopback, a virtual output device that serves as the audio source for Nicecast, another Rogue Amoeba app that connects to our live-stream servers and lets me stream that mix of my voice and my panelists’ voices to live listeners. (There’s a Volume block on the Skype side, so I can reduce the volume of the skype audio a tad so that it’s the same volume as my own voice.)

Finally, that last mixdown of my voice and the Skype audio is also saved to the Desktop, with some very particular settings. Audio Hijack gives you remarkable control over the audio format your recordings can be saved as. In the case of this mixed-down file, I’m saving it as a 64kbps mono MP3, complete with tags and even custom album art.

Members of The Incomparable get access to a special podcast feed containing an archive of all of our live-streamed sessions. Audio Hijack makes the process dead simple—I upload that MP3 file, unchanged, to my server, because it’s in exactly the proper format, right down to the show art.

Here’s another example that’s one I use less often, but still goes a long way to showing just how powerful Audio Hijack can be. For The Incomparable’s beer episode, I had to record four people around a table in my house, as well as a bunch of people who were connected via Skype.

To do this, I connected my Zoom H6 portable recorder to my Mac in USB interface mode—one of the handy features of this device is that it can transform itself into a six-track USB audio interface on demand—and attached four table microphones for my in-person participants. I connected a multi-way headphone splitter to the output from my Mac, and each of us brought our own set of headphones.

Everything got routed by Audio Hijack: each individual track from the H6 was saved to its own file on my Desktop, and then routed to Skype via Loopback to everyone else on the call could hear us mixed together. I recorded the Skype audio to my Desktop and routed that out to the headphone splitter. Shockingly, the entire thing worked flawlessly, despite it being operated by increasingly tipsy people.

Back in the day at Macworld I was frustrated by how hard it was to set up a multi-microphone recording session in our podcast studio. Getting a civilian to understand how to properly configure GarageBand or Logic for a foolproof multi-microphone recording session? Forget it. But with Audio Hijack, I was able to make it simple, by creating a Session that recorded the output of all four microphones in the studio to individual files, a format I replicated for the beer episode.

Combined with tools like Loopback and Nicecast, there is not a single audio problem on my Mac I have not been able to solve with Audio Hijack. Its flexibility and clever interface continue to amaze me.

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