Under The Microscope

Farrago 1.1 Embraces the Dark Side

We released the very first version of our new soundboard app Farrago just over three months ago. Since then, we’ve been delighted to hear how its robust, rapid-fire soundboards are helping podcasters, theater techs, and live performers with their work. We’ve also received lots of great feedback, which has helped us plan future versions. Today, we’re pleased to ship the first major update to Farrago.

What’s New in Farrago 1.1?

Farrago 1.1 contains a slew of new features, improvements, optimizations, and bug fixes. Here’s a look at the biggest items.

A Dark Theme

The most noticeable change in Farrago 1.1 is the new Dark theme. Open up Farrago’s preferences, and you can easily switch between the app’s Light and Dark looks, just by toggling the new theme selector. If you’re using Farrago in a theater or other darkened space, the new Dark theme is likely to be perfect for you.


Farrago’s Dark theme in action

Full Undo Support

Farrago now includes full Undo support, so you can revert changes to settings, tile deletions and rearrangements, and even the removal of entire sets. Just select “Undo” from the Edit menu, or hit Cmd-Z on your keyboard, to undo your recent changes.

A “Now Playing” Indicator

When playing audio from a large library with multiple sets, some users ran into trouble determining where exactly their audio was coming from. The new “Now Playing” indicator should make these problems a thing of the past. Any set with an actively playing tile now shows this indicator next to its name in the sets list, on the left side of Farrago’s main window.

Additional Improvements & Bug Fixes

Farrago works better than ever, thanks to many smaller improvements. You can now hold the Shift key to make the “Stop Playing” item in the Control menu to access “Reset All”, restoring all tiles to their default state. When you create a new set, you can immediately type in a name for it. You’ll also see improved performance throughout the app, with special optimizations for users who have large sound libraries.

This update also fixes several small bugs. It works around an issue when MacOS itself does not provide a default audio output device, corrects a problem where window resizing could fail on multi-monitor setups, and eradicates a rare problem where keyboard shortcuts could fail to trigger playback.

Much More

Of course, these are only the most notable changes in Farrago 1.1. There are many additional updates, improvements, and fixes, so we encourage you to download the app and test it out.

Get It Now

If you need fast access to audio clips, Farrago is here to assist with your podcast, live performance, or anything else. Learn more about Farrago on its product page, then test it out by downloading the free trial. You still have a bit more time to take advantage of Farrago’s introductory pricing, so act fast to save over 20% off the regular price.

If you’re already a Farrago user, just open up the app and select “Check for Update” from the Farrago menu. Farrago 1.1 is a free update for existing users, so we encourage you to get it now! We’ve got plenty more planned for Farrago, so stay tuned.

Rogue Amoeba’s New Ultimate Podcast Bundle

Since way back in the mid-2000s, we’ve been delighted to help folks create their own podcasts. It’s been over a decade since Audio Hijack first added the ability to record both halves of a Skype conversation. In that time, podcasting has flourished, and our product lineup has grown to include audio tools to handle nearly all aspects of a podcasting workflow.

To record, Audio Hijack will get you set, whether you just need to capture from local microphones, or you want to record both halves of a Skype or other VoIP conversation.

Using Loopback, it’s possible to route audio between applications, so all parties on a VoIP call can hear the sounds you want to play.

Our newest app Farrago provides rapid-fire soundboards so you can drop in sound effects and musical accompaniment as you record.

Finally, with Fission, you can quickly and losslessly edit your audio recordings and add podcast chapters.


We’re now offering all four of these tools in one money-saving purchase. With the Ultimate Podcast Bundle, you’ll get license keys to unlock all four of these apps at a substantial savings.

If you’re interested in getting into podcasting, this new bundle is a great place to begin. You’ll save over $50 on four powerful tools to get your new show rolling. Check out the Ultimate Podcast Bundle page for more details.

Farrago Fools

I imagine that most geek parents have used the old “talking computer” trick on their kids at some point.


You can’t argue with machine learning.

I’ve used it enough that whenever my children hear any robotic voice coming from a device, they completely ignore the voice and search the house for me instead.1

Rather than resorting to my usual April Fool’s Day joke2, I decided to up the ante a bit this year. Inspired by one mischievous user, I decided to prank my kids with Rogue Amoeba’s newest app Farrago. Ultimately, I wound up using three of our apps for this prank, a record the marketing department wants me to tell you to try and break.

The Setup

To start, I downloaded a clip from Studio Ghibli’s “The Secret World of Arrietty”. This movie is about a family of tiny people who secretly live in a house of ordinary humans, sneaking around the house and scavenging from them while they sleep.

I then used our audio editor Fission to divide the clip up into segments containing various sound effects (such as footsteps, climbing noises, etc.), as well as dialogue parts. I saved those out, so I had over a dozen different sounds.


Isolating clips in Fission.

Once I had my individual files, I loaded them into Farrago for playback. Next, I configured Airfoil to capture Farrago’s audio to Airfoil Satellite running on my phone.


Do you hear footsteps?

The Delivery

I first tried this on the girls. While saying goodnight, I secretly slipped the phone under one of their beds. Then I snuck back downstairs and began playing audio in Farrago. After a few minutes of no response, I wondered if something had gone wrong. When I went back upstairs to check, I discovered they hadn’t heard anything. Apparently, the volume was low enough that it couldn’t be heard over the noise of their fan.

Undaunted, I explained the prank to them and recruited them to help me try it out on the boys. I repeated the same setup with the phone, making sure the volume was turned up, then snuck back to the girl’s room where we started playing clips.

The boys responded immediately, searching under their bed to find the source of the “footsteps” and talking. Once they found it they ran into the girls’ room, where we were all laughing a bit too loudly to be stealthy.

Next Time

If I were to do this again next year, aside from making sure the volume was turned up on the phone, I’d come up with a way to hide the phone better. Even better would be hiding multiple devices in the same room and alternating transmitting between them.

Hopefully, this prank will last longer than the talking computer trick.


Footnotes:

  1. I’m not sure how this will affect their odds of survival in the event of a robot uprising. ↩︎

  2. Wherein I hold a dollop of ketchup in my hand and pretend to cut myself while slicing an apple at the breakfast table. This trick honestly worked for about seven years straight. ↩︎

AirPlay Volume Bug: Goto Mute

Earlier today, we shipped an update to our home audio streamer Airfoil for Mac. The just-released version 5.7.3 works around a bug introduced by Apple in tvOS 11.3. This bug is likely to affect not just Airfoil users, but anyone who sends AirPlay audio to their Apple TV, so a summary of Apple’s bug may be helpful.

In short, for Apple TV receiving audio via AirPlay, volume handling is broken on tvOS 11.3. When the sender has its volume set to zero, audio will still be heard from the Apple TV. You can try it yourself by setting the iTunes volume slider to the far left, as seen below. Send audio to an Apple TV running tvOS 11.3, and you’ll still hear audio leaking out of the AppleTV. This issue occurs with any source sending to the device, including Apple’s iTunes and iOS, as well as previous versions of our own Airfoil.


The sending volume in iTunes is at 0, but audio will still be heard.

A little background on AirPlay volume control helps explain what’s occurring. To eliminate slider latency, AirPlay audio has its volume set on the receiving end (here, that’s the Apple TV). To do this, the sender (here, iTunes) provides the volume level using a special SET_PARAMETER volume command. As a result, adjusting the volume slider in iTunes immediately changes the remote volume, with no lag.

That volume command allows a value range of 0 dB for full volume down to -30 dB for full reduction. However, a -30 dB reduction is often not enough to mute very loud audio, so there’s also a special value to force full muting. When audio should be fully muted, a sender tells the receiver to set volume to -144 dB. The receiver then knows it should not play any audio at all.

With the tvOS 11.3 update, this mute special case is now kicking in at -145 dB, instead of -144 dB. Though it’s impossible to be certain without actually seeing Apple’s source code, this is very likely to be an off-by-one bug. Specifically, it seems that a less-than-or-equal sign got changed to a less-than.

The previous code would have looked something like this:

if $volume <= -144

    mute();

While the updated code would look like this:

if $volume < -144

    mute();

This one small change leads to a very unexpected result for users. We expect Apple will correct this bug in a future tvOS update, but until they do, iTunes and iOS sending won’t properly mute audio to the Apple TV devices.

For our part, once we understood the problem, we could update Airfoil for Mac to work around it. Be sure update to Airfoil for Mac 5.7.3, which will correctly mute audio for all versions of tvOS (Airfoil for Windows users, watch for an update coming soon as well).

Licensing Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Capture Technology

Over the years, we’ve received numerous requests from other businesses looking to license our audio capturing technology. Until now, we always declined these offers, preferring to focus on improving both the technology and our own applications which use it.

Recently, however, we revisited the possibility of licensing. Our audio capture code has been continuously improved for over a decade, and it’s now incredibly reliable. This technology is used by tens of thousands of our users every day, in Airfoil, Audio Hijack, Loopback, and Piezo. We’re tremendously confident in what we’ve built.

Because of this, we’re now pleased to announce licensing opportunities for our audio capture technology, ACE.1 ACE makes it possible for Mac apps to capture audio from one or more individual processes, as well as all audio from the entire system at once. The same power which drives some of our biggest apps is now available to outside developers as well.

If you develop an application which could benefit from audio capture2, please see our new licensing page, then get in touch!


Footnotes:

  1. ACE has had multiple names over the years, starting with “Instant Hijack” and then “Instant On”. This newest name is intended to better convey the many uses of our licensable framework. ↩︎

  2. Examples include apps dedicated to screen sharing, VNC/remote access, game streaming, and more. ↩︎

Our Software