Soundflower: capture/record streaming audio on Mac
Streaming video Use case Scenario
Here's the setup. My daughter is a music teacher at a bilingual school. She came over to ask me if she could borrow my Gloria Trevi Me Siento Tan Sola CD because she wanted to play the Zapatos Viejos track in her classroom. Honestly, that's about the only song Gloria has ever done that would be suitable for primary school but I digress. We looked high and low but could not locate the CD. I suggsted she torrent download it, but a suitable torrent could not be found. We did locate streaming audio on the artist's site, but of course, streaming means it just goes by on the fly. My daughter can't really be on the internet at work -- she would need an mp3 or CD.
Enter streaming audio capture. My favorite computer of the moment is a Macbook Pro. For MacBook Pro you can download and install this little gizmo called soundflower. Soundflower acts like a virtual input/output device for sound. You can route the sound between applications. I wanted to route the sound into Audacity (a powerful free recording application) which can record sound input. I wanted the sound source to be Firefox, since this streaming audio is delivered via the web.
Installing soundflower is like installing any other Mac App. You double click the ".dmg" file, then you double click the packing box icon to put it in your Applications directory. After that you can eject the virtual drive that the installer created, and get rid of the ".dmg" file as well. Then you can run the App. It places a little 70's style flower icon in your taskbar.
Setting the input and output
We want Audacity to record our stream and we want the web to play it. So we will direct the web output to soundflower and then direct the input of Audacity to soundflower.
In my other audio hub I blathered in great detail about Audacity. I'll just assume you have installed it. You fire it up and you go to its Preferences (Audacity menu) and you will see the screen pictured. There will be a drop down selector for the Recording device, and soundflower will be one of the options. That's all you have to do, just select soundflower and click OK. Don't forget you did it, or you might be scratching your head next time you try to record with a microphone!!
Since Firefox doesn't have audio settings that I know of, it will inherit whatever ones you have for your overall system. So you go to the system preferences and select the sound icon. You will see the screen pictured. You will want to set the output to soundflower.
Now navigate to your streaming audio site, start the record button in Audacity, then press the play button for your streaming audio site. You won't be able to hear anything, as the sound is being directly diverted to the program. But you will see sound waves going by, as pictured. You must allow the tune to play in real time, as you are sucking sound right out of your sound card. You will know the tune is done because there will be a flat line instead of sound waves. Using the timing data provided with many sites will give you an idea of how much time the recording will take.
Now you can export the data as an mp3 file or save it in Audacity's native format. If you want to export to mp3 you will have to get the LameLib. You can install the Lamelib on the fly (i.e. you don't have to quit Audacity.)
Please only capture tracks that you have already purchased or tracks which are in the public domain. If you take any sounds which are proprietary but not for sale, be very careful what you do with them and never ever republish anything except public domain material or creative commons material with specific permissions to do so. To do otherwise is a violation of the artist's copyright even if the artist is not selling the tracks. It is especially hard on struggling indie artists. Buy indie artists' music!!! It's the only way to keep music real.
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