Sponsored by Rogue Amoeba

Podcasting is on a seemingly endless rise, with the demand for content following an upward trend that seems practically infinite. Likewise, the number of podcast providers has also grown exponentially, and because of this podcasters are faced with a complex task: not only do they have to generate quality content, but they also have to deal with all the logistical hurdles that will inevitably be thrown up, such as combining live and recorded audio from multiple sources or from collaborators who are often on the other side of the globe. Given how competitive the podcasting scene has become in recent years, they have to do the job reliably and at pace.

This is where Rogue Amoeba’s Ultimate Podcast Bundle comes to the fore, providing four key pieces of software for the Mac that assist the producer’s capabilities to meet demand, but doing so without having to struggle with “tech overload”. Let’s take a closer look at these four nifty apps.

Loopback


Loopback’s main purpose is to address the issue of inter-app audio. Ever been on Zoom call and discover that you can’t send audio from your DAW or browser? Loopback will take care of that and bridge the gap between the audio output from one app to the input of the other. For instance, it allows you to share your Pro Tools mix with your friend on Skype, amongst other possibilities. Loopback not only makes such routing possible, it can also merge multiple audio streams or devices into a single input and send audio from one app to a particular set of monitors - for the veterans in the game it’s essentially a software “patchbay”, connecting inputs to outputs, but creating virtual audio devices.

From the perspective of macOS and the apps you want to route audio between, Loopback will appear as a “soundcard” in your audio preferences, providing both the input and output for the system and apps. We’re saying “soundcard” but it’s actually “soundcards” - plural - as Loopback can provide any number of virtual devices that can be easily set up and switched ‘on’ or ‘off’. This facilitates switching between tasks, for instance, a YouTuber or Twitch streamer will have different needs to folks doing ‘offline’ podcasts, and since many content providers are actually doing both of those things this is a very handy way to quickly switch from one set up to the other - with Loopback you can create a virtual device for each particular setup/scenario that can be enabled or disabled at will. It can also act as a “fix” for audio interfaces with poor routing options, and as long as the interfaces have virtual busses you can easily send a particular input to one or multiple outputs, not to mention organise all the incoming streams coming from various apps. This is particularly useful for audio interfaces with greater I/O counts, with Loopback providing all the routing infrastructure to connect physical inputs and audio from apps to their desired destinations.

Audio Hijack

As Rogue Amoeba briefly summarizes it, “if you can hear it, you can record it” with Audio Hijack. If Loopback is your super fancy router, then Audio Hijack is your super fancy recorder with added source mixing and enhancing functionalities. They go hand-in-hand and will complement each other nicely. As hinted at in its name, Audio Hijack can also grab audio from apps or physical inputs and send it to any audio output, but it does so “internally”, within the app instead of creating a virtual audio device like Loopback does. Moreover, it can transmit or record audio streams and much more - from live streaming to YouTube Live to recording a podcast or capturing audio from a CD or even a YouTube video, Audio Hijack is the app to reach for. A quick glance at its “template chooser” for a glimpse of what this nifty app can do:

The templates are an excellent way to fast-track the workflow and jump right into action, but if your needs aren’t covered, use the “New Blank Session” button which will open an empty workspace. From there, the operation is remarkably intuitive - simply drag and drop the desired blocks from the Library sidebar on the right to the workspace and if the blocks are compatible with each other Audio Hijack will immediately make the connections. Simple as that!

There’s a large selection of available ‘blocks’ in the Library, with each of them accompanied by a brief description of what they do, which greatly helps the user to select what’s needed for the task at hand. Here’s a quick rundown of the available categories:
  • Sources: This is where audio comes from - it can be an application, such as browser or media players, Input Devices such as the physical inputs on an audio interface, or System Audio, which captures everything coming out of the system.
  • Outputs: This is where audio goes to, it can be an output device like an audio interface, internal recording software or a streaming server (RTMP servers such as YouTube Live, Twitch, and Facebook Live, for example) making it a formidable choice for streamers.
  • Built-In Effects: Here we have a handful of level and tone adjustments, such as a 10-band graphic EQ, low pass filter and panorama controls, which are all handy to get the basics done right.
  • Advanced: This is where they tuck away the “expert” tools such as time delay, input switching and also a block to rewind live audio. Rogue Amoeba has also included a number of specialized audio processors in this category, including audio repair tools such as de-noise, de-click and de-hum.
  • Meters: There are three options here for measuring levels, with Menu Bar, Calibrated Peak/RMS and VU meters. The Menu Bar meter is a handy one, placing a level meter at the Mac’s upper bar that’s great for checking levels while Audio Hijack is running on the background, while Peak/RMS and VU meters will display levels inside the workspace.
  • Audio Unit Effects: Audio Hijack supports AU plug-ins, which is a huge plus given how many awesome audio effects and utilitarian tools are available for the format.
Farrago

If playing back quick clips and sound effects is needed on an online radio show, livestream or podcast, Farrago is the app you want. It’s essentially a soundboard tool for quickly playing back or “triggering” sounds, but it’s a soundboard equipped with modern day functionality and superb ease of use thanks to Rogue Amoeba’s slick design.

The interface has an intuitive layout: drag samples from the Finder or import them via the File menu and they’ll be laid out in the grid in the middle section of the interface. On the left we have the “Sets” sidebar, with each Set containing a collection of sound clips, and on the right sidebar we have clip adjustments such as length trim, volume, output, playback direction (forward/backward), fade in/out, loop on/off and color, which helps to organise sets with a high number of clips.

Farrago goes beyond simply triggering sounds from the board, it also features a “List mode” that allows the user to put clips in the order they need along with notes, then play those sound clips in sequence. An app like Farrago simply begs for MIDI support for triggering sounds and for switching sets, and naturally that’s provided here. If you don’t have a MIDI controller around there’s no need to worry, as Farrago also allows users to set up keyboard hotkeys for the main functions (such as triggering sounds). Finally, it comes with two interface theme to match the environment - a light theme for bright rooms and a dark mode which is useful in theatres or other low-light situations - not to mention being easier on the operator’s eyes!

Fission

Fission should be the last step towards super-sounding audio content. Once everything is in place with Loopback, spiced up by your favourite clips from Farrago and audio recorded with Audio Hijack, then it’s time to hit Fission, a no-frills audio editor and converter that can quickly deliver your content in virtually any format. Applying fades, removing unwanted parts, extracting audio from video, splitting or joining clips are all super easy to achieve with Fission. It can also adjust the volume of clip sections and normalize their loudness to ensure total consistency of your content. Fission also provides cue sheet support for splitting files through cue sheets or exporting edits to a cue sheet file. Finally, it even has iPhone ringtone support for quickly transforming an audio clip into a custom tone.



Another feature worthy of note is the Batch Export function, which allows for quickly converting multiple files to a target format. This should be super handy for situations when delivering content to multiple formats is required - and speaking of formats, they’re basically all supported here: MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV are fully supported, and it can also take care of metadata and artwork for formats that support them, such as MP3.


Fission’s Batch Converter makes it easy to handle multiple file formats


Bundle workflow

When it comes to using these apps together, your workflow can vary dramatically. Often, there will be some variation between the apps’ order of use, and we can see two common paths forming: one each for ‘online’ and ‘offline’. Online would be the typical radio/talk show format, so it’s Farrago for triggering live sound bits such as intros and special effects and Audio Hijack for sound enhancements, source management and for transmitting (or recording) the stream. Offline podcasts are in theory easier to set up, so it’s Audio Hijack for recording and Fission for the final editing, or perhaps you could insert Farrago into the workflow if you’re feeling like playing some clips on the fly. With both scenarios, Loopback can provide the necessary audio infrastructure to get the job done.

System requirements

For the current version of the Ultimate Podcast Bundle, you’ll just need to be on MacOS 10.13 (High Sierra) or newer. The current MacOS version 11 (aka Big Sur) is fully supported, including Apple’s new M1 chip based Macs.

As for the computing requirements, all four apps in the bundle are highly optimised and have a minimal impact on the Mac’s resources, which makes them viable on any Mac that meets the minimum system requirements, so even older Macbooks or Macbooks Air can run them with ease.

Pricing, upgrade paths and trial versions

The Ultimate Podcast Bundle is priced at $175 (US Dollars, plus local taxes), saving $61 when compared to the combined prices of each individual app, which are priced as follows:
  • Audio Hijack: $59
  • Loopback: $99
  • Fission: $29
  • Farrago: $49
Rogue Amoeba also has a friendly upgrade policy from older versions of their app, and they also offer bigger discounts for those who own one or multiple apps and wish to get the Ultimate Podcast Bundle.

Free downloads are available for all four apps. They’re fully-functional with assorted time-based trial limitations.

Click here for more information and to buy the Ultimate Podcast Bundle.

For more on podcast production, visit our Podcasting, Vlogging & Audio For Social Media forum.