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Five Fun Ways to Play with Audio Hijack Pro

by Erica Sadun
12/02/2005

I love my copy of Audio Hijack Pro. It's not little or shiny or white, but it's my most indispensable iPod accessory. I use it for so many things: capturing music, mixing audio, adding real-time sound effects, and more.

In this article, I'm going to share a few of my favorite ways to play with Audio Hijack Pro. These are not the only ways I use the program, but they're some of the more fun ones. They range from digitizing legacy music from my old long-playing vinyl albums to time-shifting radio shows to bypassing digital rights management and more.

Without further ado, here they are. My top five Audio Hijack Pro tricks:

1: Digitizing Legacy Music

I don't care how convenient and how easy it is to replace my legacy LPs and cassette tapes with higher-quality music from the iTunes store. I've already paid for my music and I'll keep playing that old stuff as long as I can. And, where possible, that music is going onto my iPod.

Enter Audio Hijack Pro. Its silence detection feature can digitize an entire album at once while automatically splitting it into individual tracks.

The Silence Monitor feature appears on the Recording pane. It allows you to select when to start a new file based on the kind of audio being played (analog or digital).

For legacy recording, choose Start New File (Analog) from the pop-up menu. This option starts a new file whenever a signal drop of -30db occurs for two seconds.

figure 1
Figure 1. The Silence Monitor automatically detects the pause between successive tracks.

I've tested this out with cassette playback, radio, and LPs. It's worked great for everything I've thrown at it, almost always splitting where it should, except for the one or two odd cases where a composer stuck a pause deliberately into a track.

Pseudo Stereo

figure 2 Figure 2. The MDA Stereo module creates pseudo-stereo audio files from mono sources.

Audio Hijack Pro comes bundled with a fair number of digital signal processing modules. One of these, the MDA Stereo filter, proves particularly handy when working with old mono audio.

MDA Stereo uses Haas delay and comb filtering to synthesize mono signals into stereo. It's not just doubled mono, and it sounds a lot better. By applying this filter while digitizing, you create pseudo-stereo audio files better suited for iPod playback.

To use this module, open the Effects pane. Click on any of the boxes and choose VST Effect -> MDA Stereo. Audio Hijack Pro adds the filter. It gets applied when you record.

Tip: Use silence detection when hijacking Internet radio sites, like the excellent (and newly ad-supported) Pandora.com, to split the feed into individual tracks.

2: Recording Your Skype or iChat Conversations

You've just made an internet phone call to relatives overseas. Did you record it so you could share with your immediate family? Why not? Or how about that business chat you had with your immediate boss? Did you capture it so you could review it later and make sure you're on target with all her bullet points? Perhaps you should have.

Recording voice conversations isn't as easy as it might first appear. You need to record both your voice going out as well as your partner's voice arriving into your computer. And you want to hear both these sources blended at normal audio levels. Fortunately, Audio Hijack Pro can handle this complicated situation.

figure 3 Figure 3. The Application Mixer allows you to select a secondary application for audio mixing.

The secret lies in mixing the two audio streams with the Application Mixer effect. You'll need to start by launching Skype or iChat and then set up Audio Hijack Pro before placing your call. Here's how.

In Audio Hijack Pro, hijack your microphone normally as an Audio Device. This allows you to record your outgoing audio.

The real magic happens in the Effects pane. There, click on any of the empty squares and then select 4FX -> Application Mixer. A control panel opens.

Click Select and navigate to Skype (or iChat AV, depending on the program you're using), select it and click Choose. This sets the secondary application audio for the mix.

Click Hijack. The mixing starts instantly. When you Record, you'll capture audio from both sources. You're now ready to place your call.

Tip: The Crossfade slider lets you adjust the mix between the Source (your microphone) and the Application (Skype or iChat AV).

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