Here's a case of a program getting better before I wanted it to. WireTap Pro, as it was, fit well into my audio editing pattern. But, Ambrosia as increased its functionality and launched WireTap Studio. The first thing users of WireTap Pro will notice is the price increase, as Studio is $50 more expensive (although registered users of WireTap Pro can upgrade from $30). At $69, WireTap Studio is no longer a logical recommendation simply for the ability to record audio off your Macintosh, meaning users will need to take full advantage of its new capabilities in order to get their money's worth." />



WireTap Studio audio capture/formatting tool reviewed

19483
Provides: Audio capture, editing and management
Format: Shareware
Developer: Ambrosia Software
Minimum System Requirements: 1GHz G4 or any Intel Mac, Mac OS X v10.4, QuickTime 7
Processor Compatibility: Universal
Price: $69.00 ($30 upgrade from WireTap Pro)
Availability: Out now
Version Reviewed: 1.0.6

Here's a case of a program getting better before I wanted it to. WireTap Pro, as it was, fit well into my audio editing pattern. Using the example I have many times before, let's say I bought a song off the iTunes Music Store that I want to burn onto a compilation CD. I can't use iTunes for this, because it's CD burning options are just shy of barbaric. (No level adjustment? Come on, Apple, treat us like adults.) I therefore use Toast for CD burning, but Toast can't work with Apple's DRM restrictions. The easy (but somewhat time consuming) workaround has always been to simply play the song in iTunes and use WireTap Pro to record the audio right back to the computer, totally DRM free. I'd then use SoundStudio to adjust and trim the clippings, and there you have it.

Of course, WireTap Pro could do more than just record the audio playing on your Mac. You can read about its capabilities in my review, but that's old news. What was a Pro is now a complete Studio, as Ambrosia has increased its functionality and launched WireTap Studio. The first thing users of WireTap Pro will notice is the price increase, as Studio is $50 more expensive (although registered users of WireTap Pro can upgrade from $30). At $69, WireTap Studio is no longer a logical recommendation simply for the ability to record audio off your Macintosh, meaning users will need to take full advantage of its new capabilities in order to get their money's worth. This, then, is my selfish problem; WireTap Studio handles its new features fairly well, but it's no longer the convenient, low-cost utility I want it to be.

At launch, WireTap Studio allows you to set your audio source, selecting from the internal microphone, iChat, an external Mic, iTunes, or pretty much anything else. You can even record from two sources at once, which is quite handy for podcasting and such if you want to add your comments over music, for example. A unique LivePreview button then allows you to hear the quality of your recording as you select your output setting. Using this, you'll know before saving your file what it'll sound like with your chosen format and compression settings, allowing you to adjust accordingly to obtain the proper quality/size ratio.

WireTap Studio

Another great feature is the ability to record two separate sources simultaneously and save them to independent files. You wouldn't think you'd need this, but I found myself using more frequently than I would have guessed; it's very convenient and can be a huge time saver.

Any edits you make to your recording (from the few options available) are lossless. A lossless master is saved along with your active file, allowing you to go back in after the fact to make changes without having to rerecord the audio get a quality source file back. The lossless file can take up quite a bit of disk space, so WireTap Studio provides a simple option to delete the lossless file once you're satisfied with your final product. And, of course, you can always select to not have WireTap Studio bother with a lossless file in the first place.

Your output settings are AAC, MP3, AIFF, WAV or lossless .mov, which covers just about everything a Mac user would need. You can also export your files to your computer, or directly to iDisk, FTP, e-mail, Bluetooth, iPod, iTunes and iPhone (where compatible files can be used as ringtones). When saving to MP3 and AAC, you can tag your files with the typical iTunes entries: title, artist, genre, comments, etc.

WireTap Studio

Special mention should also be made of the interface, which doesn't inundate the users with complex controls and terminology that could confuse audio novices. Most should be able to figure out what's what without consulting the manual, but a help file and video tutorials are provided for further explanation.

Unfortunately, WireTap Studio isn't a complete editing solution, as with a program such as Sound Studio. You don't get full two-track editing capabilities, no ability to normalize your recordings, and you can't insert other audio clips into your track. Each audio file stands on its own in WireTap Studio, and there's no way to combine them. Again, for that, you'll need another program.

WireTap Studio

Which brings me back to my original point. WireTap Studio is a fantastic tool for audio capture, arguably the best available for the Mac, but Ambrosia is turning it into a full audio capture/editing program. That's all well and good, but they're already charging for audio editing features that just aren't fully there yet. I would like to see Ambrosia continue to offer WireTap Pro for those who only want the audio capture capabilities, or at least a WireTap Studio Lite. Assuming this won't happen, I can still recommend WireTap Studio for what it can do, but caution those who aren't capable of getting it at its upgrade price to consider the limitations and hold on until v2 before spending $70.00.

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