Mac Podcasters Quick Upgrade Guide for Audio Hijack 3

This week Rogue Amoeba released Audio Hijack 3, the first update to its audio capturing, recording and processing app in over 10 years. The update is major, complete with a new, Yosemite-style UI, and more than a few functionality tweaks that all users, podcasters included, are going to love.

Though Audio Hijack was originally developed long before we even spoke the word, "podcasting," it is a perfect app with which to do just that. Its flexibility for capturing and routing audio combined with its ability to interact with CoreAudio and your hardware audio devices in real-time makes it a perfect tool with which to record and process your podcast. Every single episode of Mac Geek Gab over the past ten years has been recorded with some flavor and version of Audio Hijack.

We podcasters, like anyone who works with computers and audio, need to be cautious when it comes to updates. The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule always applies first. Even a minor change in the way an operating system, hardware driver or piece of software works can change (or eliminate!) your ability to record your show, and this is true of a major update like Audio Hijack 3, as well. Still, once you understand the broad strokes, you may find that even the ".0" version of this update works well for your needs.

Importing your sessions

Audio Hijack 3 fundamentally changes the way Sessions are managed and stored. Because of this, Sessions are not shared between Audio Hijack 3 and prior versions. The good news is you can import your existing Sessions the first time you launch Audio Hijack 3. Additionally, you can maintain both Audio Hijack 3 and a prior version on your computer, using either version when the need suits you (which makes testing new software in your current environment a breeze).

Audio Hijack 3 Will Import Your Sessions from Previous Versions

Once you've imported your Sessions you'll want to go through each of them. Not only is this important for ensuring you restore any nuances that were lost during the import (and it's almost a guarantee that this will happen at some level), this is also a great way to familiarize yourself with how your current workflows are implemented in the new UI. Even as a ten-plus-year veteran of the "old way," I immediately found myself preferring the new interface. It's all much cleaner and smoother now.

Gone Is The Effects Tab

Prior versions of Audio Hijack forced users to manage five tabs per session, though most podcasters likely lived in just three of them: Input, Recording and Effects. Still, the need to switch between them meant that it was impossible to have a full view of everything at once.

The "Old" way of managing effects in Audio Hijack Pro

Version 3's interface solves this, putting everything right out there in the window simultaneously. This allows the user to more-easily see the path audio will take through Audio Hijack, clarifying quite a bit of long-standing confusion trying to see where the effects come into play as compared to the recording and outputs.

Audio Hijack 3 shows everything at once

Audio Hijack 3's new interface adds a great degree of flexibility, allowing users to record at any point in the chain, and have effects applied both before and after that. For podcasters who record "live-to-tape" or do any live-streaming audio, this new interface and flexibility is especially welcome.

Latency Adjustments are Gone, For Now

[Update March 2, 2016: Rogue Amoeba has added a hidden low-latency mode to Audio Hijack 3.2.3 and later, solving this issue] One key feature Audio Hijack provided podcasters who record – and monitor – live was the ability to tweak the audio input buffers down as low as one's hardware would allow. The lower the buffer, the lower the latency (delay) between audio coming in and then going out.

Prior versions allowed users the ability to adjust Audio Input Buffers

Even with modest audio hardware this meant being able to monitor what was actually being recorded, effects and all, in real-time. The chief benefit of monitoring this way is not having to wait until you've finished recording to find out if there was a level mismatch, a gain/clipping problem, or too much compression or reverb being added to the signal.

In this first release of Audio Hijack 3, however, the ability to adjust buffers – and the ability to do any live-monitoring of your own audio signal – is gone. If your workflow is such that you don't need this feature (for example, you do a lot of post-production after you finish recording) you likely don't care. If you are someone who focuses more on pre-production and then records live-to-tape for a near-immediate release upon finishing recording, this is a deal-killer.

The Audio Hijack 3 User Interface Currently Lacks Buffer Controls

Audio Hijack 3.0's default (and currently unchangable) buffers provide too much latency between speaking and hearing one's voice come back through headphones. It's not terrible, but depending upon what you're doing it could be between a tenth and half of a second. Short, but long enough to distract one from speaking naturally.

Based on what I understand from Rogue Amoeba, the lack of buffer controls in Audio Hijack 3 was more of a user interface/simplicity decision than it was any technical limitation. Thankfully, the folks at Rogue Amoeba are open to your feedback and will prioritize any new features based, in part, upon what they hear from you. If buffer control is important for you to have in version 3, please let Rogue Amoeba know.

Audio Hijack 3.0 is a Solid ".0" Release

I'm eagerly awaiting a fix to this last issue because I am otherwise quite excited to start using this. I've done some test recordings with AH3 and am very happy about the new direction. My advice for you as an existing user of Audio Hijack Pro is to download AH3 and give it a spin. You may not be ready to change your workflow yet, but you may also be surprised at how much easier the new version is to use. I think you'll like it!