By Kris PhillipsProduct Overview
Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro is an application used to record audio from many different sources on your Macintosh computer. It records audio in a similar manner to recording audio from, say, the radio onto a tape deck recorder. Now, what makes this different from your normal run-of-the-mill recording program? For starters, Audio Hijack Pro lets you record from only one source at a time: such as only Firefox, your entire system audio, so that you get everything playing through your computer’s speakers, or a source plugged into an input on your computer, so that you can record all of those 8 track tapes that you’ve been telling yourself you were going to make into digital files 5 years ago. Also, as a nice addition, Audio Hijack Pro also features an impressive number of effects and enhancements that you can do to your sounds as you record them.
As soon as I opened the program, it felt very clean and was not cluttered with all kinds of settings, buttons, and configuration boxes. All of the options available were fairly self explanatory and easy to use. There was the applications pane on the left to select which program you wanted to record from. Hijack and record buttons on the top to tell the program when you wanted to start and stop recording. A few fields for IDv3 tags so that you can give information on the audio file you are creating that iTunes or another audio playback program can use. Audio quality, to change the size of your files and how good they sound when they come out on the other end. The Effects Pane to give your recording a bit more pizazz. Everything was well laid out and felt like a natural Apple application, minus floating windows, which was a positive for me.
Using the application was equally simple. Click Hijack, with or without the application open, the program would be relaunched with it hijacked, after prompting you, and you were ready to hit record. Once you're finished, just click record again and the application automatically spits out an audio file in the format that you specified prior to recording, or in .aiff by default.
As I moved deeper into the application's possibilities, I found huge possibilities for playing with and changing the sound of the audio as its recorded. The built in audio tools let you compensate for low quality audio, change the overall recorded volume, change the audio to mono or change the balance between the left and right speakers, change bass and treble levels, and so much more.
The audio tool that I found most useful was the 10 band equalizernot only because this was the most familiar to me, but because it let me somewhat minimize the hollow sound of low quality audio that I had recorded. After a few tweaks of the EQ, and some volume changes with the gain control, the Youtube videos that I used to test the recording feature of online content came out fairly well. Although you cannot fully restore audio that has been saved as a lower quality format, it did help minimize the changes introduced by compression and help it sound closer to the original. It also made recording higher quality audio easy to accomplish. Some of which included music from line in input, audio played back locally, analog media recorded to digital, etc.
The Heavenly Side
On the positive, Audio Hijack Pro is very simple to use in just about every way. The interface is so simple that if you know how to navigate an Mac application, there is nothing new you really need to learn. Everything is laid out to look and feel like a Macintosh application should. The enabling and disabling of audio recording, audio file destination selection, and nice graphical interface make this application great for novices. Plus, with the added bonus of the on-the-fly manipulation of audio input, it gives expert users much needed extras for audio recording. That makes it useful for people in every walk of life and computer skill level. A nice touch is the ability to record audio from analog sources and re-record them as digital format.
The Not So Perfect Side
Rogue Amoeba's web site used to advertise Audio Hijack as a simple way to convert your iTunes library to to more universal formats. Recently, however, this has been replaced with simply being able to “convert restrictive audio formats”. One feature that I would have loved to see in Audio Hijack would be the ability to record and convert my entire iTunes library with the push of a button and have the program insert the Idv3 tags automatically for me. Many applications, such as CoverSutra, are able to read the track information and manipulate iTunes. It would make Audio Hijack absolutely invaluable to have the ability to spit out individual tracks based on the information provided by iTunes. This would help those users who have large quantities of money wrapped up in restrictive iTunes music files that only work well with iPod and iTunes player. A glitch that I found with Audio Hijack running on Mac OS X Leopard caused it to fail when attempting to launch applications with the hijack button. Upon clicking “Hijack” without the program you are attempting to hijack already running, the user is simply greeted with an error message saying please contact Rogue Amoeba's technical support. This was a feature that used to work in Tiger and prior, but seems to have been broken in Leopard.
All in all, Audio Hijack Pro is an excellent, must have application for any audio enthusiast. If you ever find you need to record something from your computer and want an easy way to do it, for a measly $32, you can have more recording features than you can shake a stick at.
Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Posted: Thursday, May 1st, 2008