Home | Audio | DIY | Guitar | iPods | Music | Brain/Problem Solving | Links| Site Map

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Hijacking Audio

More iPod How To's

imgHave you downloaded enough mp3s to give your G5 and iPod goose bumps? Already import all your friends and coworker CDs into iTunes? Do you STILL want more? Lucky for you, there's Audio Hijack (Macintosh OS X only).

The first time you use Audio Hijack, you'll notice the icon shows a burglar with a gigantic speaker on his back. This is a very fitting image for what this powerful app can do. Simply put, Audio Hijack allows you to record and save audio from ANY application to your computer. Sound handy? That's because it is.

Audio Hijack turns your Mac into an audio ripping recorder du jour. Literally, any audio you hear on your computer can be recorded with Audio Hijack. Like the theme song to that new computer game you just bought? No problem, hijack it. Hear some cool sound effects on a website? Then hijack it. Get the idea?

It gets better. Audio Hijack can be completely automated. WIth the help of Audio Hijack, your Macintosh can automatically record any online streaming audio feed and transfer it to your iPod. Audio Hijack does all the dirty work for you. It'll record it, convert it to an mp3 or AAC file, and even add it to your iTunes library automatically! That's not even the best part. The timer feature allows you to set all this up ahead of time (like a TiVo) so you can record what you want, when you want it.

imgimgFor example, let's say you are a huge NPR fan. Honestly, who isn't? Wouldn't you love to have an hourly newscast on your iPod every morning to go with your coffee and cheese danish? All you have to do is schedule a preset in Audio Hijack. Then in the morning you can get on the bus, or take that morning jog and punch up the newscast on your iPod just like you would Britney Spears' "Toxic". The only difference between the two is NPR delivers quality, somewhat satisfying audible content. You can use the following procedure in this tutorial to hijack any streaming audio file, but as I alluded to above, I'm going to use NPR as my example. But you can find all sorts of streaming audio content from popular radio talk shows to music, sports, news and more.

Before we begin, you should download the Audio Hijack demo from Rogue Amoeba's website.

NOTE: This tutorial does not require the purchase of the Pro version of Audio Hijack in order to complete. The free demo version will work fine. However, with the DEMO, there is a limit to the amount of audio you can record before it turns to a very offensively loud static. Pay the $16 and you get a licence to hijack forever! Small price to pay for a lifetime's worth of ripping.

After you download and install Audio Hijack, it's time to grab that NPR newscast. But slow down there Willie Gault, first we need to find out where the source originates from. Let's go to NPR's website and find the streaming link for their Hourly Newscast. You can find this link right on their home page. Click on the link to open it in Windows Media Player or Real Audio (for this tutorial I'm using Windows Media Player for Mac, but the same basic procedure can be used for any streaming audio feed).


imgclick on image for a larger view

After launching the streaming audio feed, you will hear your newscast playing. Now, let's find out where this stream originates from. Audio Hijack needs this stream location before it can record anything.

With the stream playing (or at least open), and Windows Media Player the active application, select File > Get Info from the menu bar. Towards the bottom of the dialogue box that opens, you will see a "Location" description. Write this down or memorize it if you are good at that kind of thing. Unfortunately, you cannot just select and copy it.

Once you have your desired stream location, hit OK and QUIT Windows Media Player.

The stream location for NPR is mms:// If you click on this link now, your web browser will open Windows Media Player and should start playing NPR's live audio stream.

Now Open Audio Hijack or make it active if it's already open. Unless you've already messed around with the program, you should see an empty queue (picture right). Let's set up a preset to record our NPR newscast.

From the menu bar, go to File > New Preset. You now have an Untitled Preset window with four tabs: Target, Timer, Recording and Effects.


TARGET: Fill in the title as "NPR News." Then under Application, hit Select and navigate to Windows Media Player on your computer (picture bottom left). Select Choose. In the bottom box under "Open URL/File/Apple Script", input the streaming audio location that you wrote down from Windows Media Player (picture bottom right).

img img

TIMER: Now let's set up a timer so your computer will automatically record the audio stream while you're doing other things (like watching "Real World 38: Bamburgers Dept. Store"). Select the Timer Tab and click the "Enable Timer" checkbox at the top. Also make sure to select Monday - Friday for the recording days. Next, you need to select the time you want Audio Hijack to start recording. Since I wake up at 6am, I have Audio Hijack start recording at 5am. This way my NPR newscast is finished before I even get out of bed.

In this example, I input "05:00:00" for my start time and "06:00:00" for my end time. Make sure the Record tab is checked and also check off the Quit Target box as well. This option will Quit Windows Media Player once it's done recording.

NOTE: Audio Hijack uses military time as do most countries on the planet so get used to it.

imgclick on image for a larger view
click on image for a larger view

RECORDING: Navigate to the Recording tab. You need to save your raw files somewhere. I like to save my files to the Desktop. You can do this by choosing the Select button and then navigating to the Desktop.

Next I want to tell Audio Hijack to convert the NPR newscast to an AAC file once it's done recording. Doing this will reduce the file's size, AND add to iTunes so I can put it on my iPod. Under the drop down menu, choose "Encode to AAC with iTunes".

EFFECTS: If you're feeling awfully hijacky, navigate to the Effects tab and either manually manipulate the EQ settings, or choose one their presets to adjust the quality of the audio you're recording. I chose the Spoken Word preset. In general, you should use this EQ setting for all audio books and other 'non music' types of audio files.

Close the Inspector Window and you're done.


Now you should see this window.


If you want to test your preset, hit the "Hijack" button at the top of the queue. Windows Media Player should open and your stream should play. The black audio meter [Levels] in the upper right hand corner of the queue notifies you that it is recording. If you want to record it, hit the "Record" button. If you are happy with the results but don't want to save it to your computer, hit the "Release" button. An AIFF file will appear on your desktop (if you chose to save it) and iTunes will automatically convert it to an AAC file.

When iTunes is done converting it, feel free to trash the AIFF file on your Desktop. You will no longer need it and it will only take up valuable disk space. iTunes has already created a duplicate copy in AAC format and saved it in your iTunes Library.


So that's it! You've set up a timer enabled preset and have learned how to save any audio emitted from your computer to your hard drive. Test it out with ANY application from your favorite game, to the Finder. Once iTunes possesses the newly created mp3 or AAC, it's as simple as dragging it to your iPod.

If you've followed this tutorial and scheduled Audio Hijack to grab NPR's newscast everyday, congratulations! Now, at work, you'll appear to be somewhat in touch with the rest of the world. And who do you have to thank for all this? Just a low priced sound ripping application called Audio Hijack and little old me. Happy hijacking!

More iPod How To's


Home | Audio | DIY | Guitar | iPods | Music | Links | Brain and Problem Solving | Site Map | Contact


Creative Commons License