Dear Lifehacker, I have recently purchased a monitor off of Kogan for my PC, Xbox and soon my PS4. My main issue is that my speakers (which are 20 years old) only support a 3.5mm inlet. I was wondering if you knew of a device that could take optical signals and convert it so that my speakers would be compatible? Conversion Confused
Tagged With digital audio
Aviary, creators of the Aviary online image editor, have just released an online music maker called Roc, using tons of free and Creative Commons-licensed instruments, and an interface that doesn't require any music theory knowledge to work with.
If you've ever wanted to play at being a Foley artist for your own audio recordings, sound designer David Filskov posts an interesting list of tricks he's collected from other designers for turning common objects into audio trickery. It seems like a stretch, until you realise that movie soundtracks are rarely recorded from the source—often because doing so would be dangerous, impractical, or wouldn't sound believable.
The sound of people walking on snow? It's made by recording people in the studio walking on flour or cornstarch. If you live in a cold, snowy climate, you know how rare that perfectly crunchy and squeaky snow is. The sound of a naval depth charge? A toilet flushing at half speed, with a reverberation filter applied. Alien sounds?
Certain kinds of canned dog food make useful sounds as the food comes out of the can. The chunky stuff isn't so good, but the tightly packed all-one-mass kind makes gushy sucking sounds when the air on the outside of the can is sucked into the can to replace the exiting glob of dog food. This sound can be used as an element in certain kinds of monster vocalizations, alien pod embryo expulsions, etc.
Those without pooches can also try solid cranberry sauce for a similarly weird noise. If you have your own tricks for turning every day objects into cool sound effects, share the cinematic magic in the comments below. Extra points will be awarded if you link to your audio of a Chimera fighting a Liger, made with Saran Wrap, a Twinkie, and a startled house cat. Photo by M. Keefe. Epic Sound: The Guide to Sound Effects
Spice up your videos, games, applications or just make system alerts a little more hilarious by downloading sound effects from Soundsnap. Whether you're an electronic musician using Ableton Live or a budding YouTube auteur looking to flesh out the audio on a Final Cut Pro project, libraries of free sound effects, loops and samples are like mana (I'm a longtime fan of The Freesound Project). All the sound effects at Soundsnap are uploaded by creators, so if you've already done some foley work or futzed around with a Moog to produce sci-fi ambience, help out others by contributing. There are already many thousands of audio clips already available. If you're a multimedia maker, what sound effects sources do you use?
iTunes 8 has added simple under-the-radar feature that allows you to quickly and easily tag any file in your iTunes library as an audiobook and move it into the Audiobooks section of iTunes and your iPod. The simple trick? Just right-click a track and select Get Info, head to the Options tab, and then select Audiobook from the Media Kind drop-down menu. The file will instantly leave your Music library and head straight for your Audiobook library. To mark multiple files at once, just select them all and go through the same process. The only remaining step is to tick the Remember Position checkbox if you haven't already, and your tracks should now have easily found their way to your Audiobooks section, and even better, they should work like an audiobook. Finally. Thanks Brett!
We've all been there: you've downloaded an episode of your favourite TV show to watch on your commute or stream to your living room, but the file you downloaded isn't supported on the device you want to use it with. Once a significant obstacle to enjoying your media anywhere, this problem is easily solved by any number of free media converters. Keep reading for a closer look at the most powerful and easiest to use media converters.
Windows only: Free application MediaJoin—as its name suggests—combines several media files into one long file. Say, for example, you wanted to a three-part video or a live album into one long playable file. Just fire up MediaJoin, select the files you want to combine, and let the application do its work. MediaJoin can even string together files of different types, but be aware: doing so means transcoding files, which means you'll see some loss in quality. I converted a live album of MP3s, though, and it ran through the files so quickly I don't see how it could have been transcoding. (Sticking with the same filetype and bit rate would probably make a difference.) If you've ever wanted a simple tool to combine any piece of media with another, the freeware MediaJoin looks like a winner. MedaiJoin
Windows only: Freeware application MP3-Check examines your music library to weed out files that are missing important metadata or those that don't match certain criteria. iTunes built-in duplicate finder is pretty limited, but MP3-Check similarly weeds out MP3s using criteria like bit rate, sample rate, and gain volume. As an added bonus, MP3-Check handles huge directories of MP3s with aplomb, and when you find files that don't meet your standards, you can launch your favourite metadata editor and set things straight. MP3-Check is freeware, Windows only, requires .NET 2.0. MP3-Check
Readers are submitting their best life hack for a chance to win an autographed copy of our new book, Upgrade Your Life. Here's our latest winner. Reader Matt grabs songs from YouTube videos the way we used to hit the cassette deck record button while listening to the radio back in the 80's. Well, not really. Matt does it by downloading the YouTube clip .FLV file and converting it to MP3. After the jump, get the steps and tools you need to do it yourself.
Windows only: Freeware plug-in Call Graph integrates with the popular VoIP application Skype to record your Skype as MP3s and organize those recordings with a simple interface. Once installed, you can set Call Graph to automatically record all of your Skype calls, or you can choose to start and stop recording manually during a call. After you record a call, you can rename and add relevant information to the call data—which comes in handy when you use Call Graph to search your index of recorded calls. There are many Skype recording tools out there, but most come with a price or limitations. The freeware, Windows-only Call Graph has no limitations, and while its current interface is spare, it's simple to use and does the job. Call Graph
Web site Pediaphon turns any Wikipedia article into an MP3. The site plugs the article into a text-to-speech synthesis app, and while the synthesis isn't the best you've ever heard (what is this lif - eh - hacker, anyway?), it's very fast, meaning you could plug in an article and sync the MP3 to your MP3 player in about a minute before you head out the door. If you plan on putting Wikipedia to heavy use on your iPod, I'd recommend installing Wikipedia on your iPod or browsing iPodia on your iPod touch or iPhone.
The iTransmogrify bookmarklet for the iPhone or iPod touch converts embedded Flash content to mobile Safari-supported formats so that Flash media—like embedded YouTube videos and streaming MP3s—will play from Safari with the click of a bookmark. Obviously your iPhone or iPod touch has YouTube built in, but if, for example, you're reading Lifehacker and we've embedded a YouTube video, Safari won't recognise that and take you directly to the YouTube app. One click of your new iTransmorgrify bookmarklet, though, and it will. The bookmarklet also supports several Flash-based MP3 players.
Windows only: Ever download a video file but can't for the life of you get the thing to play back for you? Freeware application CodecInstaller detects the audio and video codecs already installed on your system, analyzes video files to determine what codecs they need, and helps you download and install them if you don't already have them so those unplaying files start playing again. Not everyone needs this sort of granular codec support (especially if you're using a player like VLC), but if you have run into this sort of situation, CodecInstaller should come in very handy. CodecInstaller is freeware, Windows only (just avoid the toolbar installation when you install it).
Windows only: Freeware application Free DVD to MP3 Ripper does exactly what its name says: Rips DVD audio to your hard drive as MP3s. A while back when we asked readers how to rip a concert DVD to MP3, most of the solutions were either a touch on the complicated side or required shareware software. Free DVD MP3 Ripper does the job (and can also rip audio from MPEG files and VCD and SVCD movies) with relative ease, and best of all, it won't cost a dime. Free DVD MP3 Ripper is freeware, Windows only.