Synchronizing Paul Rogers with the TV: Macintosh edition

So you hate listening to Clark Kellogg, and you'd rather listen to Paul Rogers while watching the game; but when you do, the audio is always ahead of the picture. I promised a few days ago to post detailed instructions for synchronizing a web radio broadcast with your TV. At last, here it is.

First, a couple of disclaimers.

This method uses a shareware application that is only available for Mac OS X. I imagine there is an analogous method for Windows or Unix, but I don't know what applications you would use or what their interfaces look like. So if you're a Windows geek and can provide any information, please comment below or make your own fanpost. But these instructions will only work on a Mac.

This method also assumes that the web (or real) radio station you are listening to is ahead of the telecast - that is, you hear Paul Rogers describing things you have not yet seen happen on your TV screen. If the radio signal is lagging behind the TV, then I can't help you; but if you have a DVR or your cable or satellite box includes built-in pause/rewind, you can always pause the TV long enough to let the radio catch up.

So if you're reading this far, you're probably a Mac user who wants to delay an audio signal in order to sync it with the TV, and you're willing to spend $32 on a shareware application. If so, read on...

The first thing you need is Audio Hijack Pro from Rogue Amoeba Software. You can download it for free and play with it, but until you register, it will only work for about 10 minutes before it starts inserting random noise in the audio. So if you want to use it for real, you'll need to fork over $32. Money well spent in my opinion; your mileage may vary.

What we're going to do is record the audio from the radio, using a digital delay to sync it up with the TV, and listen to it while recording.

Start by launching Audio Hijack Pro (I'm tired of typing that out, so it's going to be AHP from here on out). The first thing you'll see is a window that looks like this:


Click the Input tab if it isn't already highlighted, and select the audio input or application you want to use. If you're recording from an actual radio, you'll want to plug it into your audio input jack, select Audio Device as the input type, and then Built In Line Input as the device. However, I don't have a radio station in range that carries Paul Rogers, so I use an internet radio station. Therefore, as you can see, I've chosen Application for input type. I could choose Firefox from the Select menu because I've used it before; you can choose Select Application... as shown, and choose whatever browser you want to use. (If you have two browsers, I suggest trying this with the browser you're not using to read these instructions.)

Once you've selected the source, you need to set up the delay. The amount of delay you need will vary from game to game, and may need to be adjusted during the game as well. I like to be prepared, so I set up for the longest delay I can manage, and I can quickly adjust to less extreme conditions. (Don't worry, AHP will remember your settings the next time you start it up, so you don't have to go through all this setup every time.)

To set up the delay, click on the Effects tab. This will open a panel with a bunch of empty spaces for digital effects:


The effects are chained from left to right. Any effect you place in the top left spot will be fed into the next spot to its right, and so on. Any empty spots are bypassed, and the resulting signal is what gets recorded. The effect we're going to use delays the input by up to 2 seconds. By chaining 10 of these together across the top row, we can delay the audio by up to 20 seconds.

To insert a delay, click on the top left space. This will open a hierarchical menu from which you choose the effect you want to insert. The available effects will depend on what AU (Audio Unit) plugins are installed on your computer, so you won't likely see exactly what I see; however, the one we're going to use is a built-in Apple effect that everyone should have. Select AudioUnit Effect > Apple > AUDelay.


You'll see a black box representing the effect appear occupying the spot you clicked, and a floating window will open. This is the Editor window, which allows you to customize the way the delay works.


You need to adjust several parameters here. First, the dry/wet mix slider. Slide it all the way to the right (100%) so that you're getting all of the "wet" signal (with the delay effect applied) and none of the "dry" (unaffected input) signal. Second, adjust the amount of delay and the feedback to 2 seconds and 0%. (Feedback would give you a repeating echo, which you clearly don't want - all you want to do is delay the input by 2 seconds.) The orange thing that looks like a flagpole is a 2-dimensional slider that adjusts both. Grab the ball at the top of the flagpole and slide it as far to the right and down as it will go.


Close the floating window. You'll see the black box has two buttons at the bottom. One says EDITOR and he other says BYPASS. Click the BYPASS button. a little red "LED" should light up indicating that the button is engaged, and a slightly larger green "LED" at the top left corner indicating that the effect is live should go out.

Repeat this process as many times as you think you might need (up to a maximum of ten) across the top row. I have ten of them arrayed across the top of my effects window, all of them bypassed for now.


Next, you have to start up the web browser under the control of AHP by clicking the Hijack button at the top left. If the browser is already running, AHP will ask you to quit it and then restart it for you. At that point, you should see something like this:


All of the above can be set up ahead of time, but now it's game time and you're ready to listen. Click the Record button.


Start with all ten delays bypassed, and enable them one at a time by clicking their bypass buttons until the audio lags slightly behind the video. You can see that I have engaged the first three delays (the large green LEDs are lit and the little red ones on the BYPASS buttons are out), so I have a six-second delay. I've stopped at this point because the audio is a little behind the video. Now I'll click the EDITOR button on the first delay module so I can fine tune its delay to get a perfect match.


The other two engaged delays are still set at 2 seconds. So now instead of 6 seconds, I have a 5.17 second delay which I judge to be in perfect (or close enough) sync with the TV, and I can sit back and watch the game. When the game is over, I can click the Record button again to stop recording. As a side effect, I now have an AIFF (uncompressed audio) file containing Paul and Bob's call, so I can listen to it repeatedly from now until September to pass the time during the summer doldrums. The file is in the "recording bin," which can be opened by clicking on the Recording Bin icon right under the Hijack button.

Note: AIFF files are uncompressed CD quality audio files, and they can get rather large; so you may want to open the file in iTunes (there's a button at the bottom of the Recording Bin window for that) and make a compressed copy, then delete the original. If you're AnVillen or CrumsRevenge or CardG6, I don't have to tell you that the AIFF file will have the best fidelity for importing into your next video masterpiece; if you're like me, you'll probably be just as happy with the compressed file. And if you don't want to save it at all, you can just delete it by clicking the trash icon at the bottom of the window and selecting "move to trash."

Happy listening, and GO CARDS!

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