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The Slacker's Guide - Mix Tape Trading Party: Audio Hijack Pro

by Chris Barylick
March 17th, 2006

It was a few weeks ago that my brain nearly melted. Browsing through the Mac news sites, I happened across a release in which the Recording Industry Association of America, in all its wisdom, claimed that ripping CDs to one's iPod, violated their terms of fair use.

Brain, meet front of skull. You'll be interacting with it at a high velocity upon reading this and similar stories.

Somewhere out there, one of the country's most experienced, expensive legal teams had devised an airtight defense that seemed to consist of losing an argument when you were four years old, then screaming "Nuh UH!" and claiming the rules had magically been changed to suit your needs.

To wit: even if you had paid a record company for your own copy of a copyrighted work and had the technology available to encode it to a portable, convenient format, it might be argued that you weren't allowed to do this.

Things used to be simpler.

Enter Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack Pro, perhaps the best catch-all solution for simple recording, conversion and basic editing of literally any sound your Mac is capable of playing. From here, the captured sound can be saved in a variety of file formats and exported for use in other programs.

Recording and basic editing tools in Audio Hijack Pro.
(Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.)

And that's about the size of it. If your Mac can make the sound, Audio Hijack Pro can record it. Once recorded through Audio Hijack Pro, all the advantages of a generic/universal format are accessible. Even formats that have all but been abandoned on the Mac (namely Windows Media Player files, with the exception of anything ported through the must-have Flip4Mac QuickTime extension) can be played back through the program, their sound captured and available for later use.

Like iMovie and iPhoto, Audio Hijack Pro makes sorting through sound clips and file types easy thanks to an elegant interface. Imported clips can be dragged and dropped into a logical visual order before being worked on while applications to add sound from can be added sans fuss.

Once imported, clips can be edited with standard VST and AudioUnit effects. Audio Logic Pro may not have all the features of a timeline-based editor, which displays every facet of the sound structure, but general audio effects and editors capable of displaying the gain and equalizer bands are appreciated for a quick fix to any audio sample.

Add scripting, and users are sure to muck about with it and eventually make it better. Rogue Amoeba seems to have understood this and included support for AppleScript as well as a fairly robust set of scripts for common functions. Users can save themselves a few steps by making quick changes to an audio sample, then clicking the "Process" button to perform a common task such as converting the file to a common format or importing it directly to an iTunes library. Not for the faint of heart and somewhat technical, the program still invites people to play with it and bend the application to the way they want to work.

Editing tools in Audio Hijack Pro.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

Audio Hijack Pro currently retails for a $32.00 shareware registration fee, the program operating in a limited capacity that limits audio clips to 10 minutes prior to registration of the product. The program requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to run and is a 6.2 megabyte download that expands to occupy 12.6 megabytes of hard drive space when decompressed. Not the catchall solution for every audio concern, though pretty close, Rogue Amoeba has put a lot of time and care into this, listened to its user base and updated the program frequently to appease both general-interest and audiophile audiences.

That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,


Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.

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