Recording Audio from Safari (and other apps)

We get many emails asking if Kvlt could record audio from other apps. The canonical example is recording music streaming in Safari.

The answer to this question is: It’s possible but it’s not super easy. To record audio from Safari (or any other app) you have first to download and install Soundflower. It’s a free audio component for OS X which installs a virtual sound device. You can then route audio into this device and record from it.

The installation is pretty straight forward: Just download Soundflower, open the .dmg and follow the instructions. After the installation is finished two new audio devices will appear on your system. Soundflower 2ch and Soundflower 32ch. We only care for the first one.

Now to record audio from Safari you have to do the following: Hold down your ALT key and click on the volume icon in your menu bar. A menu will appear:

Select “Soundflower 2ch” as input _and_ output.

Start your music in Safari. Now you can record the music playing in Safari (or any other app that makes a sound) in Kvlt. (You might have to open a new Kvlt window if recording doesn’t work at first.)

When you are finished just ALT-click the volume icon again and select your default input/output devices.

Now the catch: You probably have noticed that you can’t hear a thing while Soundflower is active.

So if you need this more than once in a while (and want to hear what you’re recording) then Kvlt is not the right app for this job (yet).

Why there is no MP3 export in Kvlt

Today a fellow developer asked me about the details of why we don’t support MP3 export in Kvlt. And as we get many requests from people asking exactly the same thing I feel it’s time for an explanation.

When we designed Kvlt we had a sound recorder in mind that would be like the hypothetical sound recorder Apple would ship with OS X: beautiful, useful and not complicated.

Then we had to think about the price. Ideally the price would be free. But free is something you can’t buy food for or pay your rent from. So we had to offset the expenses that went into development. Developing Kvlt would mean 2+ months without other income so at least the app would have to pay for rent + pizza for 2 people. After some thinking we decided to try $9.99 as the long term price.

$9.99 is a huge contrast to the other available recording solutions which usually start at $80. And $9.99 should be enough to at least offset a little of the time we spent on Kvlt and provide us with enough funds to work on updates and support.

And everything would be so wonderful … if there weren’t the people who complain that there’s no MP3 export in Kvlt. We understand that MP3 is still important to most people and we try to somehow include MP3 export but there’s a huge problem:

It’s really expensive. MP3 is a patented technology and everyone who wants to encode MP3 in his/her software has to pay licensing fees. If we went with the least expensive licensing option we’d have to pay $2.50 per sold Kvlt license to Frauenhofer. Oh, and the minimum fee is $15,000 which had to be paid regardless of how many units we sell.

We would have to add those $2.50 onto the price of Kvlt. For a feature which the majority of users won’t need this doesn’t sound like a good deal.

Now what are our options? There aren’t many. We either don’t include MP3 support or we use LAME – which is very user un-friendly. LAME is a source code only distribution of an MP3 encoder which is protected by free speech (there sure was some creative lawyering involved in that). But the user has to download and compile the source code himself as we cannot redistribute LAME with Kvlt.

So for now: If you need MP3 export Kvlt is not the right tool for you. (Or you’ll have export as AIFF/WAVE and encode to MP3 with a dedicated encoder/audio converter.)

But we’re working on a solution.

Update to Kvlt 1.1.1

Currently we have a little bugfix release of Kvlt in the works. We intend to fix two bugs:

- On some systems Kvlt did associate itself as the default audio file editor. This wasn’t intended and we hope to have fixed this issue.

- On some systems with non standard sampling rates a bug could occur where a saved file’s playback speed would be too slow or too fast.

The update will be submitted to the app store by tomorrow and will be available as soon as it’s through Apple’s review process. If the bugs described above should persist on your system after the update please contact us: [we speak english, german and klingon]

Thanks to Hank who has helped us a lot with finding the sampling bug!