Tag: Podcasting

How to Use Audio Hijack for Podcasting

I recently interviewed a guest for A Slab of Glass who mentioned they wanted some help with Audio Hijack and how to record a podcast with it.

I have been using Audio Hijack for a number of years as my main recording set up for both my microphone and recording a Skype call simultaneously but separately. Here’s how I do it.

Hardware

Before I get into the Audio Hijack setup, I want to talk a little bit about what hardware I use. I use an old MobilePre USB Audio Interface that I plug my XLR microphone into, from there I am able to use a USB cable to connect it to my MacBook Pro. I tried to find one that was like mine but couldn’t from any reputable dealers.

After some quick Googling it looks like some of the best current options are the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD, or the Behringer XENYX Q802USB. By no means are these the only options out there for you to use, there’s a plethora of options out there. I recommend looking at how many mic inputs you need and doing your research on finding the right USB Audio Interface for you before buying one of the linked items above.

The reason I use my MobilePre, or any USB Audio Interface for that matter, is because it offers the ability to use an XLR microphone. Which I think is far superior to USB microphones, and it offers zero latency monitoring. Which means that I can hear my microphone when I talk into it without any kind of lag. This becomes important later once I dive deep into the Audio Hijack Sessions I have created.

Once you have a USB Audio Interface and a microphone set up with your Mac it is time to get into Audio Hijack and see what you can make happen with it.

Listening to Guests Before Recording

The way I like to explain to people how Audio Hijack works is it’s a lot like building blocks that connect and work together. It is the Workflow of Audio.

 

For instance, this is the Session I have created for myself that I start immediately when I connect with someone on Skype. Whether it is to discuss topics beforehand or to give a guest an idea of what we will be discussing, I don’t want to be recording the audio until everyone on board is ready to go. It saves space on my hard drive, but also gives those on the call with me time to get acclimated with talking with me on a podcast.

It starts by taking the audio from the Skype application, and only that application. The rest of my audio goes out through my internal Mac Speakers which I have muted. The reason being is that it allows me to only hear the Skype call, so any notifications or anything that may make sound elsewhere isn’t distracting me or taking my attention away from the person I am listening to.

From there I duplicate the right audio track, which is that only track I hear from my guest and/or co-host. Make sure it is Duplicate Right, as opposed to Mono because the left track is where your audio comes in from. So if I were to make it mono I would hear both my mic through Skype and the guest. Seeing as the USB Audio interface I am using already offers zero latency monitoring I don’t need to monitor the audio of myself through Skype.

Once the audio is coming in the way I want, I have it monitored with a VU meter, which I use to make sure my guests aren’t too quiet, and because audio distortion is prevalent with Skype if things are too loud. Metering is something I highly recommend for anyone looking to record audio through the internet. There are too many variables at play with apps like Skype that may make things sound okay in your headphones, but the recording could be blown out or too quiet. Always keep an eye on the volume meters because it could save you a lot of time in post.

Finally, the last piece of this is to send the newly configured audio through my USB Audio Interface so that I can hear it, along with my own microphone, in my headphones that are plugged in to my MobilePre.

The result is both myself and my guest(s) in my headphones without any latency or lag. But what about when I want to record my guest(s) instead of just listening to them?

Recording with Audio Hijack

When I am recording a podcast I have two goals in mind:

  1. Record my audio
  2. Record the Skype Call as backup if my guests don’t (or can’t) record their end.

To do this I have two separate instances in the session.

 

 

As you can see, the top instance is taking my microphone, making the audio mono (so both sides are the same), having that audio metered with the VU meter and the menu bar meter, and finally record it as an uncompressed AIFF file.

I choose uncompressed because I have the storage to hold it, and when I’m editing a podcast I like to have the highest quality available so when I export it as an MP3 it isn’t compressing an already compressed file.

The second instance, on the bottom, is what I use to record the Skype audio. Much like the listening instance I shared above, it starts with the Skype application audio, duplicates the right audio channel to remove myself in the left and makes it only the rest of the people on the call.

I then lower the volume from 100 to 25 with the volume action Audio Hijack offers. I do this because Skype has a knack for having the audio way too loud, and when I lower the volume it makes my ears happy when editing and doesn’t make things uncomfortably loud in the recording. I then record that audio as an uncompressed AIFF as well, but that isn’t where this session ends.

From there I need to hear the Skype audio in my headphones like I did with the listening session. So I lower the volume even more to compensate for my mic audio, otherwise the Skype audio would be much louder than my microphone in the MobilePre. Once done, I send it to my MobilePre for monitoring.

The end result is my microphone being recording separately, and the rest of the people on the Skype call with me being recorded all while hearing both myself and they Skype audio in my headphones at the same time at equal levels.

Audio Hijack has been a reliable and essential tool in my podcasting setup for some time and I think Rogue Amoeba really has something special here. Before this app, I had to use a small containers worth of cables and an external audio recorder to achieve this. Now, it is as simple as opening a session and pressing a button.

If you are podcasting remotely with someone else, or have guests on your show, this app is great at solving the frustrations of recording over Skype.

If you aren’t sure you are getting things the way you want or need help with something feel free to email me or mention me on Twitter and I would be happy to help.

You can buy Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba today for $59. It’s worth every penny if you ask me.

How a small iTunes update 13 years ago changed the media landscape forever →

Bradley Chambers writing for 9To5Mac:

June 28th, 2005 might go down as one of the biggest days in the history of media. It was the day Apple announced they were taking podcasting mainstream by including support for Podcasts in iTunes 4.9 and with syncing to the iPod. As rumors continue to swirl of iTunes being dismantled on macOS (in favor of dedicated apps), I thought it might be fun to take a look back at this important decision.

Apple® today announced it is taking Podcasting mainstream by building everything users need to discover, subscribe, manage and listen to Podcasts right into iTunes® 4.9, the latest version of its award winning digital music software and online music store. iTunes users can now easily subscribe to over 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod®.

“Apple is taking Podcasting mainstream by building it right into iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Podcasting is the next generation of radio, and users can now subscribe to over 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod.”

The new Podcast Directory in iTunes 4.9 features over 3,000 free audio programs, making it one of the largest Podcast directories in the world, with favorites such as ABC News, Adam Curry, BBC, Clear Channel, The Dawn and Drew Show, Disney, Engadget, ESPN, Newsweek and NPR member stations such as KCRW in Los Angeles and WGBH in Boston.

For podcast fans that have only ever used iPhone apps to download podcasts, you have no idea the lengths we used to go to get our shows. This was also at a time when only a small percentage of homes in the US had broadband (so downloading shows could be time-consuming).

Podcasting wasn’t in my life until 2007, but I don’t think it would have ever been a part of my life if not for Apple doing this. It has become a staple to every aspect of my interests. News, technology, politics, comedy, and everything in between comes from podcasts first and elsewhere a distant second. It is the first thing I listen to after waking up, the only thing I listen to when in the car, and what I listen to when I am in the mood of taking a break from work I am doing (even sometimes during work).

I care deeply about this medium and have for over a decade. I want it to thrive, I want it to continue to be a means for people to express themselves online without having gatekeepers. Apple has made that a possibility because they didn’t make it a place to host podcasts but rather a means to distribute. I still think this was the best call for Apple. Allowing people to own their content in what ever way they want and to then hook it into this directory allows for people to not have to worry about playing in someone else’s backyard.

Apple gave podcasting a platform 13 years ago and kick-started its growth, and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.

How To Podcast on iOS

When I started to use my iPad more and more I knew at some point I would want to go iPad only. With a lot of tinkering and tweaking my writing workflows and exploring apps to handle some of the things I did on a Mac, I was close. The only thing stopping me from ditching the Mac entirely was editing audio for my podcasts. Then Ferrite came into the picture.

Ferrite is an app that allows you to edit audio, especially podcasts, on iOS. This was the last piece of the puzzle, and I was elated to dive deep into this once I found out about it a year ago. Over the past 12 months I have been playing around with my setup on the app and watching the updates come regularly to make this an even better experience. Canis, the lead developer at Wooji Juice, developed this app, and I wish I could give him a giant hug for all he’s done.

After a year of using this app off and on, I think it is finally time to show you how to edit your podcasts 100% on iOS.

My iOS Podcasting Setup

My iOS Podcasting Setup

Recording

Recording requires both the iPhone and the iPad (more on why later). The iPhone is for connecting with anyone you have on the show so that you can communicate with them either with Skype, FaceTime, or even just a good ol’ fashioned phone call. After that you’re set with the iPhone. If this is a long call I suggest connecting the phone to a power source to avoid any issues.

The iPad is where the magic happens. For me, I use Google Docs to handle all of the pre-show notes and to keep the topics on hand for the episode I am recording. From there I have Google Docs and Ferrite side-by-side within my iPad.

The reason that you can’t both record your voice and have a call on an iPad simultaneously is basically because iOS limits this. The sandboxing of iOS has always been a sticking point for many who want to use the iPad. This might not be ideal, but I understand where Apple is coming from on this. It can be a privacy issue if they did allow this to be a thing and Apple, the company that touts its users’ privacy, would never allow this to happen. While it can be a privacy issue, I think there can be something done to meet users in the middle allowing them to record both a microphone and use Skype at the same time whilst still caring for their personal privacy.

If you want more of a detailed reason for this Canis explains it in a podcast episode of Vector with Rene Richie (this is a link to get you right to the explanation, but this entire episode is great).

From there, It is up to the guest/co-host to record their end as with this setup it isn’t possible to both record audio and use an app like Skype or FaceTime at the same time.

With hardware I use the Audio Technica ATR 2100 with an Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adaptor and a lighting power supply to power the microphone and charge the iPad. The power supply goes into the dongle and provides both a charge and phantom power to a microphone connected, if need be. There are other great mics that you can use to achieve this, but they need to be USB or be connected to an audio interface that allows USB output. For me, the ATR2100 has been in my arsenal for years and I personally like how it makes me sound and the ease of its plug and play setup.

After the setup, and perhaps some testing if it is your first go, you’re ready to record your podcast and after that comes the fun: editing!

Editing

Once you record and get your files through some fashion (I use Dropbox for convenience sake) it is time to begin editing. But before I make a single cut in the podcast, I always clean up the audio.

One service I adore for my workflow is Auphonic. It is basically magic where it uses their own software to automatically level the audio to broadcast standards and removes any persistent noise. I rarely have to clean up the audio after it goes through Auphonic.

If I do find some other things need to be done to the audio I will use Wooji Juice’s Hokusai Audio Editor. This is a wonderful app that pretty much allows you to do anything you want to clean up audio. There’s compressors, limiters, EQ, and noise reduction plugins that any podcaster can play with to clean their audio up without much incident.

Hokusai does take some time to get used to and having background knowledge on audio is also a big plus. But, if you don’t know much about audio terminology and have time, I would play with it using an old episode and see what you can do with it.

Once the recordings are clean and ready to go, I import the clean audio files and put them in a project on Ferrite and begin cutting.

One thing I love about Ferrite is the ability to map the keyboard shortcuts to what you want.

I can either use a list of common shortcuts from other DAWs, like Logic Pro or Garage Band, or go ahead and use whatever I want to use. It is a genius addition and something I wish to see in other pro apps down the line.

Cutting a podcast is fairly straightforward if you have ever done it on a Mac using something like Garage Band or Logic Pro. You can slice, remove, move, and automate things like volume, pan, etc. without much friction.

One benefit Ferrite has over any Mac app is that you can take the project into your hands, literally. This is one of the many reasons I love working in iOS, you can use your fingers and work with you hands to create something instead of relying on a trackpad or a mouse. It is like dancing on an ice rink when you move and cut the tracks with your fingers. It is something that is almost intimate with your work when using the glass as your canvas.

If you want to learn more about how to use Ferrite there are some great tools from Wooji Juice (the company that develops the app) with their video tutorials.

There is also a really nice course by podcaster Joel Sharpton called iPad Podcasting. He also has a supplementary course on iOS audio plugins. I haven’t personally taken these courses but I know Joel personally and he’s not only a great person, but his work is always terrific. If you have any questions for him feel free to connect with him on Twitter @therogueslife.

Once it is edited as you like, you’re almost ready to share it with the world! All you have to do now is export it!

Exporting

There isn’t a set “standard” for podcasting files but I have found that the best is a mono MP3 at a bit rate of 64-128 kB/s. It isn’t studio quality but it does allow for a small file with minimum compression in the audio quality.

Once exported I save it into my iCloud Drive to safekeeping while I work on show notes and other things a podcast episode entails.

From there you just need to recall the file and upload it to your podcasting host (Libsyn, Simplecast, or Blubrry are all great options.

Conclusion

Ferrite is a wonderful and powerful app to use, and it has been a game changer for many podcasters I know who prefer the iPad over a Mac. They have finally create the last piece to the puzzle to go iPad only.

So if you are a fan of iOS and want to start podcasting with your iPad and iPhone here is a guide to do so.

Ferrite is a free app to download but in order to get the full unlocked version it is a $19.99 in-app purchase. That may be a sticker shock to some but in comparison to other editing software this is a drop in the bucket. Logic Pro X for instance is $199, and Adobe Audition is $30 a month to use. To pay $20 and never have to pay for it again is unheard of for production software.

So get podcasting on your iOS devices, and let me know if I missed anything. You can leave a comment below or get a hold of me on Twitter @iamJeffPerry.

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