Under The Microscope

Beta Test A Brand-New App

Loopback IconWe’re currently working on an entirely new product aimed at simplifying some complex audio needs. It’s called Loopback, and it gives power users incredible control over audio routing between applications on their Macs. We can’t divulge any more just yet, but we know some of our pro users are absolutely going to love this one, and we can’t wait to get it in your hands.

Testing in Progress

Before the release (sometime later this year), we’re looking for some skilled beta testers on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) to try it out.


Update (August 9th, 2015): We’re all full up for now, so we’ve taken down the link. If you’ve already applied, keep an eye on your inbox to see if you’ve been selected.

We obviously haven’t given you much detail yet, but if even the scant details above pique your interest, get in touch to give Loopback a spin. We’re planning to send out a private beta to a select group of testers shortly, so if you’re interested, send us an emailwith the following info:

  • Your full name

  • Your postal code

  • A list of any audio devices you have connected to (or nearby) your Mac

Be sure to include all of the above information if you want to be test!

We’ll be in touch with those folks who are selected within a few days. If you don’t hear from us, just keep an eye on this blog for more details.

Audio Hijack 3.2 Has a Great New Companion, Along With Great New Features

Audio Hijack IconWould you believe that it’s time for more Audio Hijack? We’ve just released version 3.2 of our popular audio recording tool, and it adds some killer new features, while also killing some old bugs. Today also sees the release of an exciting new companion to Audio Hijack which we’d like to introduce.

Audio Hijack’s New Companion

Take Control ArtworkAudio Hijack is extremely powerful, and few users are aware of all that it can help them do. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to introduce Take Control of Audio Hijack, a brand-new downloadable eBook. It’s been independently produced as part of the Take Control series, which has helped countless users get more out of their software.

This new title is the work of Mac and audio expert Kirk McElhearn, who provides an encyclopedic guide to Audio Hijack. Whether you’re a new user who wants a detailed primer on the app, or you’d just like some more information on specific aspects of the software, this book can help you make the most of Audio Hijack!

The full Take Control of Audio Hijack eBook is just $10 right through our store.

Click to Buy the eBook Now

For more information and to get a free sample of the book, visit this page.

Major Updates in Audio Hijack 3.2

In conjunction with the new eBook, we’ve also got a great new version of Audio Hijack.

The update starts with useful refinements to the Time Shift Block, which provides a pause button for audio on your Mac. One rather unexpected use case for Time Shift is using it to assist in transcribing audio. Mac writers Serenity Caldwell and Jason Snell have each written about using Time Shift to transcribe Apple’s earnings calls. After hearing about this, we set about improving Time Shift to make transcribing all types of audio even easier. We began by giving Time Shift a powerful popover:

Time Shift's popover
Time Shift’s popover

The popover provides a long slider which makes it easier to move around the buffer, along with buttons for discrete jumps of 3, 10, or 30 seconds in each direction. Like all popovers in Audio Hijack, you can tear it off for easy access. Better yet, you can pin it to make it float above other windows for access from within other applications.

Perhaps best of all, however, are the new global keyboard shortcuts. Open up Audio Hijack’s preferences, and you’ll see that you can set hotkeys for Time Shift’s controls. Now your hands won’t even have to leave the keyboard when transcribing audio to text.

Sync BlockYou’ll also find two brand new Blocks in Audio Hijack 3.2. First up is the new Sync Block. If you’ve ever needed to adjust the “A/V Sync” on a stereo receiver, you’ll understand the Sync Block. It allows you to add a precise delay to any audio. While Sync is similar in concept to Time Shift, it works at much smaller scale: up to 1000 ms (1 second) per Block. It’s perfect for syncing an audio stream with video that’s lagging behind.

Peak/RMS Block PopoverNext up, the new Peak/RMS Meters provide a fully-calibrated visual of your audio, showing both RMS and Peak Levels, as well as a helpful clipping indicator. The existing VU Meters and Menu Bar Meters are handy for a quick look, but the new Peak/RMS Meters are the way to go if you want precise audio analysis. The popover, seen at the right, offers a particularly precise view.

Note that we’ve reorganized the Block Library slightly. Look for the Advanced section to find the Sync Block (and Time Shift as well). The Peak/RMS Meters are in the Meters section as you’d expect.

The last big feature to mention in this update is shareable Sessions. Audio Hijack 3.2 makes importing and exporting Sessions a snap. You already know you can configure Audio Hijack to get exactly the setup you need, then use it over and over again. But what if you want to share your settings with someone else? Now you can, just by exporting a Session! Just highlight it in the Home window, then select “Export Session” from the Session menu.

An Exported SessionWhen you export, Audio Hijack will save your Session out as a .ahsession file. Once you have that, you can email it to a friend, publish it on your website, or share it however you like. When another Audio Hijack user opens the file, the Session will be automatically imported into their copy. It’s a great way to show off your custom setup!

There are plenty of smaller feature improvements in this update too. One that old-school users of Audio Hijack will appreciate is the return of the “Session Name” and “File Counter” variables, for use in both tags and file names. We’ve also improved the way popovers work, added additional support for FLAC, and much more.

This update is also notable because it offers general support for using Audio Hijack fully on Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan). We expect further updates will be necessary when the official release of the OS occurs, but at this time, users on El Capitan can now make full use of Audio Hijack, including the Instant On extra.

Get It Now

This update is free for all current owners of Audio Hijack, so get it now. Download the latest Audio Hijack from our site or just choose “Check for Update” from within the app. Happy hijacking!

Now Hiring: A Lead Graphic Designer

It’s hiring season once again here at Rogue Amoeba, and we’re looking to have a new designer join our team.

Our previous designer, Christa Mrgan, spent over five years with us. In that time she completely overhauled Rogue Amoeba’s visual appearance, from our web site, to our applications (most notably Piezo, Audio Hijack 3, and even that new version of Airfoil you haven’t seen just yet), to our booths at Macworld San Francisco. Christa helped us define both our visual and functional styling everywhere.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. As Christa heads out into the crazy world of startups, her big designer shoes are left to be filled here. Now we’re looking for someone to take over as our new lead graphic designer.

Designer Needed
You can see that it’s true.

If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, have a look at our Jobs page for more details! Come help define what the next five years (and beyond!) will look like for Rogue Amoeba.

Our Software and Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

El Capitan LogoOn Thursday, Apple released the first public beta of the newest version of Mac OS X. While the official release won’t come until this fall, an unfinished version of El Capitan, as Mac OS X 10.11 is called, is now available for users to install. Apple strongly cautions users about this beta, stating that it should be installed “only on non-production devices that are not business critical”. They also “strongly recommend installing on a secondary system or device, or on a secondary partition on your Mac”. We second those warnings, and suggest that most users are best served by avoiding the beta altogether.

Of course, we know some of our users will install El Capitan ahead of its official release. While all of our applications (except Intermission) already offer basic functionality on Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), they are not yet fully supported. As a safety precaution, our public releases preemptively disable the Instant On extra with pre-release versions of Mac OS X. That means that at present, Airfoil, Audio Hijack, and Nicecast will not capture audio from running applications, nor will they capture all System audio. Our internal tests indicate that everything can be made compatible with El Capitan, and we’re in the process of certifying everything for use. Other small cosmetic issues are also present in the apps, and we’ll be working to clean those up in the coming weeks as well.

We’ve already updated our Status page (and linked to it from our site’s front page) with full details on current compatibility. As usual, we’ll keep the Status page updated over the coming months, so be sure to keep an eye on it. Better still, leave the “Automatically check for software updates” preference on, and you’ll be rapidly alerted to updates as they come.

For now, we recommend users stick with their current version of Mac OS X. If you do run the beta of El Capitan, be sure you have the latest versions of our software, and watch for additional updates over time.

Rogue Amoeba and Apple’s New Beats 1 Station

On June 30th, Apple launched their new Apple Music streaming music service, to compete with streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. To promote this launch, Apple also introduced a brand-new, worldwide radio station known as Beats 1. Beats 1 is staffed by big-name DJs playing commercial-free music to listeners all around the globe, 24 hours a day, and it’s all available free of charge. In over 100 countries across the planet, people are enjoying the communal experience of listening to the same music, and that’s pretty cool.

Of course, this is hardly a new concept. There have long been both Internet streams of terrestrial radio stations and Internet-exclusive radio stations. Indeed, our own Internet radio station-in-a-box software Nicecast powers many of those very stations! What makes the new Beats 1 station different is that it’s being produced by Apple, with their rather massive resources behind it. The promotion they’ve given the station has already propelled it into popular culture.

That popularity has led users to ask us for help in enhancing their listening experience. Below are three ways our software can help you listen to Beats 1 (and anything in Apple Music, too).

Using Airfoil with Beats 1

Airfoil IconAirfoil makes it easy to transmit audio around your house, using the AirPlay protocol. With Airfoil, you can send audio from applications like Spotify or your web browser out to AirPort Expresses and Apple TVs, iOS devices, and even other Macs. AirPlay audio sending is incredibly popular, and Airfoil gives you more control and power over how it works. However, iTunes has AirPlay sending built right in, so why is Airfoil needed?

Unfortunately, when you tune in to Beats 1 in iTunes on your Mac, you’ll notice that iTunes’ built-in AirPlay sending is not offered. It’s also unavailable for other stations including NPR and ESPN radio. No explanation for this is given, though it’s likely due to licensing issues on Apple’s end. Whatever the cause, Airfoil is here to lend a hand! Just set iTunes as your source in Airfoil running on your Mac, and you’ll be able to send Beats 1 out to any and all of your devices which can receive AirPlay audio.

Airfoil and Beats 1Airfoil sending Beats 1 to AirPlay outputs

Using Nicecast with Beats 1

Nicecast IconBefore Airfoil and the AirPlay (née AirTunes) streaming protocols, the previously-mentioned Nicecast was the way to ship audio around both the Internet and your own house. Way back in 2004, before Airfoil had been created, we wrote about using Nicecast to get audio to an AirPort Express. A similar setup works for other hardware which can’t receive via AirPlay. As long as your device can tune in to an Internet radio stream, Nicecast can help you send audio over to it.

In this case, setting iTunes as the source in Nicecast is about all it takes. Nicecast will create a stream of the audio playing in iTunes, and you can then tune in to that stream with your audio playback hardware. If iTunes is playing Beats 1, Nicecast will pass it along for listening. Naturally, this also works for any and all Apple Music playing via iTunes.

Nicecast and Beats 1Nicecast creating a stream from Beats 1

Once you’ve set up Nicecast, just find the “Local” URL from the Share drawer. Tune in to that with any audio player on your network, and you’ll hear the audio from iTunes. We’ve already seen users making great use of Nicecast to get Apple Music out to their Sonos devices (they offer helpful instructions on tuning), and we’re pleased we can assist.

Using Audio Hijack with Beats 1

Audio Hijack IconFinally, we’ve had users ask us about timed recording of Beats 1. Of course, our audio recorder Audio Hijack can help you there. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t currently provide a tune-able link to the stream, which is what a timed recording requires. Thankfully, it appears that mirrors of the stream are popping up, and you can certainly tune in with those.

Audio Hijack and Beats 1Audio Hijack set to record Beats 1

With this simple setup, you can record shows which are on at inconvenient times, then listen to them at your convenience!

Of course, even if you just want to listen live, Audio Hijack can improve your experience. Improve audio quality with audio effects to the stream. Even better, if you stream iTunes through Audio Hijack with a Time Shift block in place, you can pause the music while you make a snack, rewind to catch the name of a song again, or just build up a buffer of content so you can skip past songs you don’t like. Neat!

Save!

We hope our software can enhance your listening experience with Beats 1 and Apple Music. If you’re a new user, you can save on the purchase of any of the apps mentioned above. Just purchase before the end of July, and use coupon code BEATS1 to save $3. Enjoy!