Audio, Tutorials

Complete walkthrough of Audio Hijack 3 features

different routings

In this Audio Hijack 3 tutorial I’ll be taking you through the entire app right from when it has been installed on your system. When you first start up the app, you’ll be greeted with an empty Home window. To immediately start working with Audio Hijack 3, click the “New Session” button at bottom-left. But before we get off doing that, let’s first see what you can do with Audio Hijack 3 beyond recording audio, as well as what you would probably like to install first.

Audio Hijack lets you record audio from a mixture of devices, including microphones, DVD players, ADC’s (Analogue to Digital Converters — these are the devices that convert analogue signals into digital data. The reverse is perhaps better known: a Digital to Analogue Converter or DAC enables you to play and listen to music on your Mac), and even vinyl record players. All of these devices can be hooked up to your Mac simultaneously if your system is fast enough and you have enough memory.

In addition, Audio Hijack 3 lets you capture sound from your system or from specific apps.

Finally, Audio Hijack 3 allows you to play sound that has been enhanced using its support for audio plug-ins such as equalisers, compressors, etc., etc.

You can record or capture or play audio immediately by clicking a Record button, or postpone the action until a specified time, using the Scheduler. This makes it possible to use Audio Hijack as an alarm clock, for example.


Audio Hijack 3 has add-ons to make certain features work better.

Audio Hijack 3 comes with two system “extras”:

  • Instant On and
  • Schedule Helpers

Instant On is a system extension that allows you to capture sounds across the entire system. So, if you want to capture the sounds made by multiple open applications, including the system itself — which you can do with the System Audio template — you’ll need to install Instant On by clicking the Install button. For more information on Instant On, you can click the cog wheel and select the More Information option.

Also, if you want to be able to capture sound without having to think about whether the app you want to capture is running before you start Audio Hijack 3, you’ll need to install Instant On.

Finally, if you want to capture Safari, you will need to install this Extra.

Audio Hijack 3 System Audio enhancer

Some Input blocks will not work without the Instant On extra installed.

TIP: Make sure you don’t have any sound control panels or dashboards such as Apogee Maestro running while activating or de-activating Instant On. If they are running, close them first to avoid repeated crashes of these control panels / dashboards.

NOTE: Instant On may conflict with other sound capturing extensions running on your system. For example, if you use ScreenFlow to capture your Mac’s screen to video and you have installed the Telestream Audio Driver, you may encounter crashes of either app when using them together. According to their website, ITCH DJ software may conflict with Instant On as well.

The Schedule Helpers Extra allows you to use Audio Hijack unattended, purely based on your timed events. Without the Schedule Helpers running, your Mac must be awake and Audio Hijack must be running to start a timed recording or sound playback (one that you set up in the Schedule tab).

With the Schedule Helpers installed, the Mac must be turned on but can be asleep and Audio Hijack 3 doesn’t even need to be running for a scheduled recording or playback event to start and stop at the right time.

In the following free screen capture videos I will show you how to start and what the new features in Audio Hijack 3.1 look like. The premium part of this tutorial includes:

  • instructions on direct recording,
  • popovers and what you can do with them,
  • the scheduler,
  • how to use Audio Hijack’s effects (both built-in and third party ones)
  • setting block routings for different purposes
  • and an advanced use of Audio Hijack: to record to iTunes loudness specifications (requiring a 3d party plugin).

[videojs mp4=”/media/Starting.mp4″ width=”640″ height=”360″]
New in Audio Hijack 3.1
[videojs mp4=”/media/AudioHijack31.mp4″ width=”640″ height=”360″]

[videojs mp4=” /media/direct-recording.mp4″ width=”640″ height=”360″]
[videojs mp4=”/media/Popovers.mp4″ width=”640″ height=”360″]
[videojs mp4=”/media/Scheduler.mp4″ width=”640″ height=”360″]

How to use Audio Hijack 3’s Effects (both built-in and 3d party)


Audio Hijack 3 comes with built-in effects, of which some are so simple to use, they lack a popover for settings.


The popover for third party effects by default display with their native interface. You can switch to a simplified interface instead, but plug-ins like the here shown iZotope Nectar 2 will be hard to work with.

different routings

You can set up complex routings.

To make your recordings sound perfect, or to “sweeten” the sound from your Mac, you can add built-in effects to a Session. If you have third party sound editing software on your system, Audio Hijack 3 may also list the effects that came with the software in its Block Library. Depending on the location in the Session chain, an effect may give you different sounding results.
To create a Session that records sound to a file from a device or application, choose one of the recording Sessions from the Template Chooser — all but the two right most listed Session templates are for recording sound — or drag a Source and Recorder block from the Library to the Audio grid.


Creating a Session by selecting a setup from the Template Chooser.

To create a Session that improves your Mac’s output sound, either select one of the two right most Session templates in the template chooser, or drag only effect blocks and an Output Device block to the Audio Grid.

When you have created a recording Session, clicking the Record button will make it turn red and the recording will start.

when recording the record button turns red

The record button turns red when a Recorder block is present.

When you created an audio improvement Session, clicking the Record button will turn it white and any sound now being output by your Mac to the selected Output Device will be affected by the Session’s effects chain.

when audio sweetening the recording button turns white

The Recorder button turns white when no Recorder block is present.

Setting up block routings

You start with a Source block and end with an Output block, but many things can be added in-between. Here’s a checklist for effect blocks that can be dragged to the Audio grid and activated to change the sound being recorded or output.

  1. Unless you are recording from a device, such as a vinyl record player or a mic, there’s no need for the three sound repair effects Denoise, Declick and Dehum.
  2. Third party Audio Unit effects can be run with their native interface or with a generic interface. To switch between the two modes, right-click (or control-click) the block and select “Use Generic Audio Unit Interface” or “Use Custom Audio Unit Interface”. My advice is to always use the custom interface as this is the one designed by the AU developer in the first place.
the use custom AU interface context menu

Third party Audio Units can be shown with their native interface.

  1. You can apply two or more effects in parallel. Just drag the block so that it is close enough to the Source and Recorder blocks to make a connection, but above or below the effect you want to run parallel with.
create effects that work in parallel

Blocks can work in parallel.

  1. In all sound editors, the order used to apply some effects can change the results. This is the same in Audio Hijack 3, with the effect results flowing from Source block to Recorder and/or Output blocks.

Advanced topic: recording to loudness specs: iTunes True Peak

This advanced recording example assumes you have an Audio Unit installed (a sound plug-in like NUGENaudio’s ISL2) that enables recording to loudness specifications. One of those specs is iTunes True Peak, which ISL2 supports. This example is based on the Podcast Template, but it can be applied to any other set of Session settings.

  1. Select New Session in the Home page
  2. Select the Podcast template from the Template Chooser
  3. Set up the two mic Source Blocks for your specific microphones. In the short screencast below, mine are the Duet iPad/Mac connected sE2200a and a Røde NT-USB. Drag the NUGENaudio ISL2 block from the Audio Unit Effects section in the Library to the Audio Grid.NOTE: Because loudness limiting will have to apply to both microphones, you can place one ISL2 block right behind the two mic bocks, serving both devices’ signals, but in front of the Recorder block because loudness will need to be set before being recorded.
  4. Set the ISL2 block to the correct loudness spec. Click the block and adjust the specification settings as well as the other limits in NUGENaudio’s native ISL2 interface.
  5. Start recording.

[videojs mp4=”/media/Loudness.mp4″ width=”640″ height=”360″ preload=”auto”]
The resulting files are iTunes True Peak compliant.

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J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News