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Five Fun Ways to Play with Audio Hijack Pro
Pages: 1, 2

3: Adding Sound Effects to Your Podcast

Audio Hijack Pro's Application Mixer effect does a lot more than just capturing two-party Skype conversations. It makes it possible for you to add some great special effects to podcasts.

For this, QuickTime Player has an advantage over iTunes: it lets you play and control more than one file at a time.

You'll need to set preferences to do this. Choose Quicktime Player -> Preferences and open the General settings. Uncheck "Play sound in frontmost player only" and check "Play sound when application is in background." These settings allow QuickTime Player both to handle multiple sounds and to continue playing when it's not the foreground application.

Organize your QuickTime windows. Load your favorite background tracks, bumpers (start- and end-of-segment music clips), and sound effects (laughs, applause, and so forth). Arrange them in a logical pattern around your screen. Make sure you've got all your sounds queued correctly so they'll start reliably when you need them.

figure 4
Figure 4. Set up your favorite background tracks and bumpers in QuickTime Player so you can easily access them while recording.

In Audio Hijack Pro, hijack your microphone. Plug in your headphones and redirect the output to them with the Input pane. You'll want to carefully monitor the mix between your sound effects and your voice.

figure 5 Figure 5. Raise the input to get the best voice strength for your mix.

In the Effects pane, add the Application Mixer. For this case, select QuickTime Player as your secondary application.

The input gain knob on the Application Mixer plug-in lets you strengthen your voice signal before the mix. Adjust this until you're satisfied with the quality of your sound balance. A good clear voice signal is essential for podcasting.

Once you're satisfied with your mix, you're ready to record. As you start the capture, turn your attention to QuickTime Player. Here, you can use your organized sounds to ornament your podcast.

Tip: Use your sounds to keep your podcast lively, building the pacing and audio experience you need.

4: Time-shift Radio Shows

Addicted to talk radio? Don't like to miss your regular fix of Car Talk or All Things Considered or Rush Limbaugh? Hook up a radio to your Mac and capture your fave radio shows in an iPod-friendly format. Use either a Mac-specific radio tuner solution or just connect a normal AM/FM radio into a Griffin iMic.

Audio Hijack Pro's Schedule feature allows you to automate recordings. Select a specific date and time or choose a repeating appointment, such as every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. At the time you specify, Audio Hijack begins its capture using the application and hardware you specify.

figure 6
Figure 6. Schedule options appear on the Input settings page for each application.

To help with timed recordings, you'll want to activate Schedule Helper. Choose Audio Hijack Pro -> Install Extras and click Install. Schedule Helper allows your timers to operate at all times, regardless of whether or not Audio Hijack Pro is open and your machine is awake. You'll need to authenticate with an Administrator password to do this upgrade.

Tip: Using an external radio? You'll need to keep it on and tuned. That way the signal's ready when Audio Hijack begins its recording.

5: UnDRM Your Music

It seems kind of wacky to record music from iTunes, but I end up doing that a lot. I like to be able to play the music I've already bought, particularly on my PocketPC when I go to the gym. I don't like seeing that "protected files cannot be converted to other formats" message.

figure 7
Figure 7. Grrrrrrr.

Audio Hijack Pro lets you hijack iTunes just like you'd hijack any other application. I just turn on the Silence Monitor, set my capture to medium MP3 (I am not, as you might have guessed, a big audiophile perfectionist) and play back my Purchased playlist.

A few minutes later, my music is ready and waiting for me.

Tip: Turn off your email and any other background programs while hijacking music to produce the cleanest captures. Hijacking can be processor intensive.

Final Thoughts

The tricks you just read about are just a sampling of what you can do with Audio Hijack Pro. I've been using the program for a few years now and find it amazingly helpful for all sorts of unexpected reasons. It's a fun, hacky kind of program that you can always find new uses for because it's a general handy tool rather than a narrow software solution.

Mac OS X only, $32 (trialware available), Rogue Amoeba

Erica Sadun has written, co-written, and contributed to almost two dozen books about technology, particularly in the areas of programming, digital video, and digital photography.

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