Archivio dei tag audio

Audio virtual device for MAC

If you play with streaming, podcast, mixing, webradio or you want to setup an audio recording studio at home you may find difficult to get audio from some sources and record or use in your live set. 

While in a real analog world, this can be solved with cables and mixers, by splitting some output to other inputs and similar stuff, in a digital world this seems difficult and it’s complicated, for example, record the audio from the browser, or get the audio from skype or similar. There are some solution that I want to share with you, 2 out of 3 of them are completely free:

Soundflower

FREEWARE. MacOS system extension that allows applications to pass audio to other applications. Soundflower works on macOS Catalina. Follow the instruction at this link (official link) after a restart you’ll see 2 new output device available on your menu. You can set the output to soundflower and set soundflower as input, in your record software and done!

 

 

 

 

BlackHole

FREEWARE. BlackHole is a modern macOS virtual audio driver that allows applications to pass audio to other applications with zero additional latency. Follow the instruction at this link (official link). It works just like Soundflower: it adds a new virtual device Blackhole 16ch and you can use the input of Blackhole 16ch to get the audio of every app, just setting the output to Blackhole 16ch.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOOPBACK

99$, 14 days trial. It creates virtual audio devices to take the sound from apps and audio input devices, then pass it to any audio processing software. With an easy-to-use wire-based interface, Loopback gives you the power of a high-end studio mixing board, right inside your computer. Details here while Loopback is not a free software, it has the power of super easy to understand user interface where you can configure multiple sources as a new virtual device.

And then you can use this new created virtual device in your recording software

My use case it’s something a little bit complicated than record from an internal source in my computer: I want to stream my webradio show from home, and have someone else talking with me in the show, but he/she is at home. What I’m using is MIXX a free software that can easily stream audio to shoutcast or icecast server, you can add multiple microphones (up to 4 microphones) so I want that Skype output is seen as a microphone, to do this I’ve installed Soundflower and used as output device in Skype

And set Soundflower 2ch as mic in MIXX

And it works! This is just a use case, but you can solve a lot of problem with these solutions. Then you probably want also and additional feature like: sending a source to two different device (for example real speakers and one of the virtual device) so that you can listen to what you are recording, or using as a source (the skype virtual microphone in my use case). This can be done using the built in Audio device of the Apple MAC, just open Audio device click on + button on the left bottom corner and select “create multi output device”

You can then select something like Built-in output (the speakers) and Soundflower output (set Drift correction, better result)

When Multi-output device is selected from the sound menu….

..everything that is sent to the Built-in output will also be sent to the Soundflower.

Automatic check for unbalanced audio, or bad level

I have a radio show and I’m also one of the people much involved in all the tech-related stuff in the Radio. There are multiple system that automatically, and manually, record the podcast of a show, upload it online and similar stuff.

Sometimes the recorded podcasts have some problems, typically:

  • The audio of the left channel is unbalanced with the respect of the right channel, or viceversa (Unbalanced volume level)
  • The audio is too high
  • The audio is too low

It may happen because the analogic audio system, before the audio card sampler, was misconfigured, or someone move some knobs, or maybe the cable are too long and of bad quality. Anyway, when this happen, there is no way I can understand it other than listen to all the recorded files. 

We are around 40 speakers, we broadcast liver from 8:00 to 24:00… it’s not something that a human want (and can) do. So for this type of problem computer systems is the way. I need

something that automatically can understand if a file is unbalanced, too high or too low in volume

I think that Linux is a super operating system and it’s full of library, tool, script and community that can help you find the right solution, but sometimes it’s not so simple. The siwss-knife I was looking for is called sox. Sox is a command line tool that can do tons of stuff (see here for the documentation). What I used for this is the stats option

sox FILE_NAME.mp3 -n stats

stats returns a lot of info, and what I was looking at was the RMS db level, global and for each channel (left right). To filter out these result we can use a simple grep command:

sox FILE_NAME.mp3 -n stats | grep 'RMS lev dB'

And with some ‘magic’ get the numeric info about TOTAL level, LEFT and RIGHT level:

LINE=$(sox FILE_NAME.mp3 -n stats | grep 'RMS lev dB')

TOTAL=$(echo $LINE | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 4)
LEFT=$(echo $LINE | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 5)
RIGHT=$(echo $LINE | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 6)
BAL_DIFF=$(echo "($LEFT)-($RIGHT)" | bc)

What we have done here? Saved the output of the sox command to the variable LINE:

LINE=$(sox FILE_NAME.mp3 -n stats | grep 'RMS lev dB')

and then we’ve parsed it 3 times:

TOTAL=$(echo $LINE | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 4)
LEFT=$(echo $LINE | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 5)
RIGHT=$(echo $LINE | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 6)

and stored the LEFT/RIGHT difference to a variable BAL_DIFF

BAL_DIFF=$(echo "($LEFT)-($RIGHT)" | bc)

from now on what you need to do with these value is up to you, you can check if values are less then a threshold and send an email, store the value somewhere, push an alert.