Regardless of whether you’re a podcaster, a YouTube movie creator or a user of apps like Logic Pro X and ScreenFlow even, Audio Hijack is an important component of your toolbox. Audio Hijack 4 has a dazzling array of new and improved features that make this Swiss army knife for audio recording, processing and streaming an unparalleled powerhouse.
In its purest form, Audio Hijack captures sound from microphones, either built-in or connected through an audio interface. It also records any sort of sound capable USB, Thunderbolt or Bluetooth device, as well as sound from applications or from the macOS system itself.
It allows you to then process that sound by routing it through processing blocks, such as built-in and Audio Unit (incl. v3) effects and meters, and outputs the results to a file, as a live stream to RTMP servers and online radio servers, or all of those simultaneously.
Audio Hijack is marketed primarily as a tool for podcasting and broadcasting over the Internet, but anyone who processes sound will benefit from having it on their system, even if you have a fully fledged DAW. The app is smaller, much easier to use and delivers capabilities instantly, whereas doing the same with a DAW might take planning or can’t be done at all. It’s also capable of recording to 32-bit (signed integer, not floating, though) which Logic Pro X, for example, isn’t.
Version 4 allows you to create intricate routings involving multiple input and output resources, and effects. To allow the most complex routing schemes, Audio Hijack for the first time lets you switch off its automatic routing functionality so you can create schemes that wouldn’t be allowed by the auto-connecting system. A simple example was my test of two mics, each connected to its own audio interface and putting a meter for each in-between the inputs and the next block downstream.
Audio Hijack 4 has a completely overhauled interface that makes the app a pleasure to use and more efficient than it was. One example is the tabbed interface that allows you to do most of your post-recording stuff without ever opening another window.
Version 4 also allows you to close or hide its window and run your recordings from the menu applet, even run the app automatically as your Mac starts up.
Controlling Audio Hijack easier with version 4
Understanding what its process blocks are doing has become a breeze. If you have an Audio Hijack session that you only use a couple of times, you’re bound to forget what exactly its blocks were set up to do. As blocks now have dynamic in real-time updating information on their faces, just looking at them will tell. You can also rename them and pin every single one of them.
Blocks having become more powerful is the reason a favourite of mine has disappeared. I used the dry run feature of Audio Hijack 3 quite often (option-click the record button and the routing works but is not recorded) but now you can do this by just switching off the Record block.
It’s easier to detach and pin blocks so that when the app is running in the background, you can control them as you are working in other apps. Every block can now have its own presets, so that setting up new sessions is faster.
New processing blocks
Except for the ability to switch off the automatic connection system in Audio Hijack 4, there is a good number of new blocks to use. Many of the older blocks have been improved as well. In the latter category, the two meter blocks are dramatically better, although I personally won’t switch to them as I love my Helmsklang VU meters.
Before I go over the new blocks, there’s one thing that I think should be changed: the Audio Unit section of the blocks list now also includes all the plug-in instruments you may have on your system. Synthesisers cannot be used with Audio Hijack and while the app launches them without hiccups, they are pretty much lame ducks, only taking up space. They lengthen the list of effects, although that isn’t really a problem as you can now filter it and find a desired block fast no matter what.
The most important new block must be the Mixer, which is a 5-channel mixer that allows you to control the volume and fading of five input blocks.
The next one is Magic Boost, which automatically boosts quiet audio without affecting sound that is loud already. Another new block is Simple Compressor, which is a… simple compressor — with few controls to set.
Not really new, but in beta for some time, is the LiveStream block. All other blocks have been updated. On the list of clearly made more efficient and effective are Volume, Input and Output which can be set to track the OS’s default input/output devices, Channels, the 10-band Lagutin EQ…
A feature that I love is that Audio Hijack 4 can now re-hijack! It’s not uncommon — on my system, at least, it isn’t — that you are capturing an app that crashes or just disappears. With the old Audio Hijack, that ruined the day. It won’t with version 4. Audio Hijack will now politely alert you of the fact while it keeps the session running and if or when the app reappears automatically re-capture the audio.
There’s more to this new Audio Hijack version than I can cover in a review, but it will be obvious I’m impressed and I’m pretty sure you will be too. Audio Hijack 4 is available now and you can download a free demo version to see if it fits your needs.
I’d recommend trying it out, even if you have a DAW on your system or use ScreenFlow for video presentations and are convinced you’ll never need it.
My experience over the years has been that I’m using it more often than any of those apps for anything from voice recordings to replace the tin sound that still characterises action camera audio to testing equipment and more. The reason is that Audio Hijack often succeeds with no further ado, while the others necessitate all kinds of adjustments or intricate preparation.