Years ago, you
might have had a stereo with an integrated cassette tape recorder. If you wanted
to record something off the radio, you'd insert a tape, wait until the song or program
started, and press RECORD. Today, you can install Audio Hijack Pro, point your browser
to a web page, or play an internet radio stream using iTunes, or insert a DVD into
your computer, and click a button to have Audio Hijack Pro record the audio portion
to a sound file.
Audio Hijack Pro, by Rogue Amoeba, is software that records any audio that you can
hear playing from your computer speakers, including system beeps and bells, mp3 or
wave files, sound from DVDs, or audio streams from the web. You can think of Audio
Hijack Pro as the utility that can hijack and record audio playing from your computer.
The audio files are digitized and saved as sound files on your hard drive for later
playback and editing.
A Macintosh computer
with OS X 10.3 or higher
Setup is simple. Download the disk image and mount the image. Drag the application
to your hard drive, double click the application, and you are up and running.
Audio Hijack Pro's sole use is to create files that are digital recordings of
audio played on your computer. It's very easy and intuitive to use. I found myself
experimenting with it immediately, and quickly discovered how easy it was to make
recordings of lectures streamed from the web, all done without having read the user
manual. Quicktime audio files playing on the web can often be downloaded, but streaming
audio typically cannot. With Audio Hijack Pro, however, it can be done. It's similar
to having a tape recorder taping your computer speakers, only the recording is done
internally, so the recording is digital and clean (no room sound or distortion from
analog to digital conversion).
The program is laid out logically, and the different features of the program are
separated into three basic tabs: Input, Recording, and Effects. Common to all three
tabs is the Component portion of Audio Hijack Pro, and the main recording and control
buttons, but I'll get to those later.
Pro's Input tab
(Insert Figure 1)(Insert
Figure 2)(Insert Figure 3)
The Input tab is where you select your audio input to be recorded. It can be an application,
audio device, AM/FM radio (e.g., RadioShark), or system audio. An audio device can
be an internal or external microphone, or any device that can be plugged into your
computer that can provide line input - a walkman, an MP3 player, etc.. System audio
means it will record the audio portion of sounds made by your system, such as your
beeps and bells when you make an error. System audio recording requires the addition
of an additional component called Soundflower by Cycling74. The component is freely
downloadable by clicking a link, but I would have preferred that the component be
included with the default installation. Audio Hijack Pro has a few other extras which
require additional components to be added as well. A list of those extras and their
components can be found in the "Install Extras..." menu option in the Audio
Hijack Pro menu.
Since it is most often the case that the initial recordings will have an audio source
coming from another application, I'll be using the RealOne Player as my audio source
in this test. Having selected an application to hijack on the Input tab, you then
click on the Recording tab.
Pro's Recording tab
On this screen, you are provided a dialog box with a full set of formats and data
fields to customize your recordings. MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and custom recording
formats are available. The online help section at Advanced Topics > Recording
Options explains each of the available formats. It explains them in simple terms
that help you choose which file format is right for you, quickly and easily.
Within each format are high, medium, and low sound quality choices, as well as bookmarkable
formats. As you choose lower and lower sound quality, the size of your audio file
decreases - sometimes significantly so. You'll have to experiment with the different
recording qualities to choose what's acceptable to you. Bookmarkable formats are
what you want to choose if you'd like to make audio files that start up where you
left off the last time.
Still on the recording tab, you can specify the location on your hard drive to save
the file to, the name of the file, and specific actions to take, or even AppleScripts
to run following the end of the recording. I'm not an AppleScript expert, but I did
see that one supplied AppleScript will automatically add the newly recorded audio
file to the iTunes library when the recording is finished. Other AppleScripts can
be written for Audio Hijack Pro as well. See the online help for additional notes
on AppleScripting related to Audio Hijack Pro.
One nice feature to the file naming is the use of variables in the file name. If
you privide a name in the file name field with "%d" in it, it will expand
to today's date when the file is saved to the hard drive. The variable "%n"
will expand to the name of the application being hijacked. To find out more about
variables that can be used in the file name field, go to the online help, click on
the "Interfaces > Recording Tab" link, and you can browse the Apple
developer page listing 23 other possible variables that can be used in the file naming.
Variables in filenames are helpful when you create sessions, such as settings that
you intend to use over and over. If you include a date variable in a file name for
that session, next week's file name created with that session will be different from
this week's file name created with that same session.
Actions and tags on the recording tab give you the option to segment the audio files
into your choice of file sizes to make the files more manageable, to limit the amount
of recording time so you don't end up recording things you don't want or fill up
your hard drive, or to manage silence. You can remove silence, stop recording entirely
on silence, or start a new file on silence. Starting a new file on silence can be
helpful when an audio stream includes a series of songs with breaks between them.
The tags portion of the Recording tab gives you the ability to add helpful, informative
tags (ID3 tags for MP3 files) to the files you create. The informative tags include
Title, Artist, Album, Genre, Year, Comment, and Track #. Some audio players display
this information in a window as the file is playing. You'll have to see the user
manual for your particular player to see if the tags are displayed or not.
Having selected the input and having set the recording options, click once on the
"Hijack" button to hijack the audio from the selected application. Hijacking
an application doesn't start the recording - it only sets up the ability to record.
You still need to click the Record button.
In order for Audio Hijack Pro to intercept an audio stream, the user must either
select the audio stream and then restart the Audio Hijack Pro, or install the "Instant
Hijack" extra such that a permanent hook is installed (with Instant Hijack,
you don't have to restart the app after selecting an audio stream). I don't see why
anyone would not want the Instant Hijack installed, as it is far more convenient.
Therefore, I would prefer that Audio Hijack Pro simply include these extras in the
default installation right from the start.
Finally, click the "Record" button and the audio capture begins. I noticed
that the application is intelligent enough to know when it's audio stream is dead
silence or not. If it encounters dead silence when recording audio that's streaming
from a web browser, it patiently waits for the actual sounds to start before it begins
building the sound file. When the audio stops, the recording stops as well, too.
This is a very nice feature. There's even a "Mute" button for when you're
recording, but you're busy doing other work and don't want to have to listen to what's
being hijacked. Other control buttons include a"Pause" button, and a "Split"
button for seamlessly ending the current audio file and creating a new one, usually
by appending a -1, -2, -3, and so on to the file's name.
Pro's Effects tab
I didn't mention the
effects tab above because I don't usually use it for audio streaming from the web.
In fact, even without the effects features, Audio Hijack Pro is worth the price of
admission. The icing on the cake is that it does have dozens of audio tools that
can be used to enhance or modify the incoming audio. By clicking and holding your
mouse button down, a hierarchical pull-down menu appears providing you with 50 different
sound tools and filters. You'll love playing with them and experimenting with the
different possible effects! Effects are added in the order you select them. You can
remove effects by clicking on them and hitting the delete key. If you never add any
effects to the Effects tab, then you get a plain, standard recording.
Performing an experiment for a friend, I used the effects tools to reduce the background
noise in an interview with her late father, recorded on a hand-held mini-tape voice
recorder back in 1991. I connected the player to my G4 using a stereo male to male
connector (the tape player was my line input). I then selected the player as my audio
device on the Input tab, and provided the details on the Recording tab. On the Effects
tab, I selected three effects filters to filter out noise and certain frequencies.
Using this setup, I was able to eliminate some of the background noise so her father's
voice could be heard more clearly. Not once did I have to look at the online help
or any user manual. I like it when software is that easy to use, yet is so powerful!
The Component Window
The Component portion of Audio Hijack Pro provides access to the Recording Bin (a
collection of recordings made by Audio Hijack Pro), a Quick Record option, and Sessions.
A session is a particular combination of Input, Recording, and Effects choices. After
having made your choices on the three tabs, you can create a session and reuse it
with the same settings. This is great when you're going to be recording audio from
a particular source at a later time repeatedly. Quick Record gives you a one-page
dialog box to record quickly without adding any special effects or other features.
The Recording Bin gives you options to preview recordings, send them to iTunes, burn
them to CD, run an AppleScript against it, or delete it.
Pro's Quick Record panel
You can program Audio Hijack Pro to record audio for you when you're not around.
Go to the Input tab, select a session, click the plus (+) below the Schedule, and
a timer is created that you can personalize to record based on the day of the week
and time of day. It is very easy to configure. The timer's options are explained
simply and clearly in the online help. I did note that timers will wake your Mac
from sleep to perform a recording session, but it cannot start a Mac that's been
Audio Hijack Pro has an interface that focuses on functionality and practicality
rather than style, so there's no bright colors or unnecessary or distracting graphics.
Yes, it's plain, but I don't care about that when I'm using a powerful utility to
capture audio to a file. I don't think any skins are available, but even if there
were, I doubt I'd use them - they don't change the usefulness of the application.
I think the simple, no-nonsense layout is one reason I was able to learn its operation
The overall interface is decidedly Macintosh, with the usual Aqua interface highlights
pointing to which fields have the focus, so any Mac user who's used to using recent,
well written utilities or applications will feel right at home. Menus items thoroughly
cover the utilities features and are intuitively named, and submenus appear to be
complete and organized in a way that keeps related items together - a sign of a well
written application that cares about its users.
When I first used the program, I missed a huge portion of the application's features
because I didn't browse the online help. My biggest hint to you would be to click
on each of the help items to see what else is hidden inside the program. In the online
help, you'll learn things such as recording the audio portion of a band's "Live
and in Concert" DVD. I didn't think about making my own podcasts, but Audio
Hijack Pro does support this. I had no idea I could record separate audio streams
at the same time - not overlapping audio, but two separate sources to two different
audio sound files. I can also customize Audio Hijack Pro to record my voice chats
on Skype or other audio chat applications.
According to the online help, the recordings Audio Hijack Pro makes are bulletproof
- meaning that all audio is captured in real time and none of it is lost should there
be a kernel panic. That's pretty sophisticated.
Hijack Pro's website
provides helpful resources as well.
Audio Hijack Pro
fills a big need for those who need or want to capture the audio portion from many
different types of input streams on your Mac. It supports input from AM/FM radios,
web radio, DVDs, web pages, sound clips sent in email clients, microphones, tape
players, and so on. Basically, if you can hear it, you can have Audio Hijack Pro
record it. You can also use it to create your own podcasts, and you can even schedule
to wake your Mac up and do the recording for you while you're away. Audio Hijack
Pro includes a lot of options and features, such as choosing the sound quality for
saved files, resume recording features, audio segmenting, and 50 included effects
tools and filters to customize the recordings. Whether you're a sound person or have
a background in sound engineering, a hobbyist with a need for occasional records
from the web or other media inputs, or if you're just curious and like to experiment
and dabble with sounds, this application is worth a look and a listen. If you are
looking for a way to digitally record any audio that plays from your speakers, Audio
Hijack Pro is a must-have utility. Rogue Amoeba claims that it is the cornerstone
of your digital experience, and I can confirm that this is very true. For
such an inexpensive license, Audio Hijack Pro is a great, clean utility providing
an incredible amount of power and function.
- Easily capture audio
from audio streams
- Multiple file formats
- Clean, logical layout
- Powerful effects
- Online help is clear
- Customizable options
for saved files
- Timers provide additional
functionality and usefulness
- Addition of extra
components preferred to be part of the default installation
- Requires learning
curve to fully take advantage of its more sophisticated effects features
5 out of 5 Mice