Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Audio’

Broadcasts, a Simple Radio App ➝

I’ve been, inexplicably, on a bit of a radio kick lately. Not using an actual radio, though. Instead, I’ve been manually adding streams from local radio stations to Broadcasts so I can listen from my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

I have it setup with about a dozen music and talk radio stations and it’s currently my go-to way to fill in the gaps when I run out of podcast episodes. That’s something that I was previously turning to YouTube for. But I’ve been more actively trying to reduce my time on YouTube and Broadcasts has been doing a great job to help with that.

➝ Source: apps.apple.com

Third-Generation AirPods Announced ➝

Spatial audio, sweat and water resistant, longer battery life, and a new design that takes cues from AirPods Pro.

I ordered a pair immediately. I might use my AirPods more than any other individual Apple device. They get about 5–10 hours of use on an average day — talking on Zoom calls, listening to music while I work, listening to podcasts before bed.

The battery life on my current pair isn’t quite what it used to be and I’m digging the shorter stems on the new model.

➝ Source: apple.com

AirPods Max Are a Frustratingly Wonderful Experience ➝

Marius Masalar, an actual audiophile, revising the AirPods Max:

They frustrate me because you can tell that these could have been disruptively perfect. If Apple had made them lighter, chosen better materials, made them fold properly, given them a useable case, included the damn 3.5mm audio cable—even if they’d kept the price—the AirPods Max would be an easy recommendation.

As it is though, I have no idea who I would recommend these to. I think anyone—even audiophiles—should find a way to audition them just for fun. But actually dropping this much money to own a pair? I don’t know.

In short, the headphones sound great, much better than Marius was expecting. But they have some downsides that very well could be a deal breaker for some.

➝ Source: mariusmasalar.me

AirPods Max ➝

These were announced a couple days ago, but I’ve just now had a chance to dig into the news. I’m not much of an over-ear headphone user and these are pretty expensive, but I sort-of want a pair.

I spend a lot of time with my standard AirPods in. I love them and all their integration with my devices — the automatic switching, quick switching within Control Center, and whatnot. But I feel like it would be beneficial for me to spend a little less time with something in my ears.

The AirPods Max seem like a great pair of desk headphones — the bulky pair that you use when you’re at home because of their audio quality, comfort, and noise cancelation. They would essentially be my work headphones, keeping the standard AirPods for the times when portability is more important.

➝ Source: apple.com

YouTube Audio to Overcast Update ➝

An update to my YouTube To Overcast shortcut, thanks to Xipeng Li on Twitter. He updated the shortcut adding a “Get Name” action to pull the title of the video and use it to automatically populate the file name prompt. I made a minor adjustment to his version — changing the file name formatting — and you can find my latest version of the shortcut here.

➝ Source: initialcharge.net

YouTube Audio to Overcast

Having a little one at home means that I’ve found myself more frequently listening to YouTube videos. Throughout the day, I’ll check my subscriptions and my recommended videos, save them to my watch later list, and then listen to them with my AirPods as I rock Josh to sleep for his nap. I pay for YouTube Premium, so I’m able to play videos in the background, but I thought I could do better.

There’s just so many videos on YouTube that don’t really need the video component. Whether they be information videos or talk shows, often times you can get by without the visuals. For those videos, the YouTube app is a bit heavier than what is necessary for listening. Something like Overcast with its Smart Speed feature, is a much better solution. Smart Speed strips silences from the audio, essentially skipping the pauses within a conversation. This allows you to listen to a podcast episode or uploaded audio file in less time, without having the distortion that comes from increasing the speed in the traditional sense.

Push to Overcast Shortcut

So I put together a shortcut — Push To Overcast — that lets me download a video from YouTube, convert it to an audio file, and then easily upload it to Overcast.

This does require an Overcast Premium account, which gives you the ability to upload audio files through the website and then listen to the file through the app. It’s not the most elegant solution in the world — just a bit more work moving the file around than I’d prefer. Other podcast clients have the ability to sideload audio files from the Files app or import YouTube videos from Safari. But Overcast is a much better podcast client overall, so I’m willing to put up with this little annoyance.

The shortcut utilizes UPull.me to download the YouTube videos. I don’t know too much about the site or who built it, but it’s the best method I’ve found for downloading videos from YouTube. Every other method I’ve tried has failed with some videos and I’ve never really understood why. UPull.me has worked with everything I’ve thrown at it, though.

Before using the shortcut, you’ll need to add a folder named “Overcast” to the Shortcuts folder of your iCloud Drive. That folder will be used to temporarily store the audio file while uploading.

After initiating the shortcut from the share sheet, the video is downloaded, it’s converted to an audio file, Shortcuts asks you to rename it, and it’s saved to /Shortcuts/Overcast/ — the folder you created above. From there, the shortcut opens the Overcast webpage where you can initiate the upload. After it completes, you tap the “Done” button and the shortcut will automatically delete the file for you.

Here’s a quick little video demo showing how it works:

You can add Push To Overcast to Shortcuts and use it as is or you can make your own modifications and make it work exactly how you want it to. And if you have any ideas for how to improve it, I’d love to hear about them — you can reach out to me with any thoughts you have.

Update 2/20/20: Xipeng Li reached out on Twitter with an updated version of the shortcut. His version grabs the name from the YouTube video and automatically populates it in the file name prompt. I didn’t realize that you could use the “Get Name” action on the contents of a URL. I made a slight change to the formatting of the name prompt that he added — I preferred to omit the “YouTube -“ that he added. If you’d like to use his version, you can find it at the link above or you can download my latest version from here.

Update 7/15/20: Upull.me has made some changes to their APIs that broke the previous version of the shortcut. So I’ve updated the link to a new version that should function again.

Sonos One SL ➝

I missed this when it was first announced last fall. It’s a Sonos speaker with all of the software and features you’d expect, but it doesn’t include any voice assistants. In fact, the device has no built-in microphones at all. With AirPlay 2 and a $179 price tag, this seems like an excellent alternative to the HomePod for areas of your house where you’d prefer not to have any microphones.

We have a HomePod in Josh’s room so we can play lullabies and white noise from our phones, but we have “Hey Siri” disabled on it to prevent us from accidentally invoking Siri during his naps. Although we can still hold the top to speak with Siri, in practice, that never actually happens. I might pick up one of these One SLs to replace his HomePod.

That will also let us move the HomePod into the living room. The spot I have in mind is conveniently located near our front entryway, the doorway to our basement/garage, the hallway to our bedrooms, and the dining room. It’s the perfect location for a HomePod because we pass by it to go just about anywhere in our home. We can easily speak to Siri on our way to turn on any HomeKit devices we need.

➝ Source: sonos.com

Overcast 4.1 ➝

An incredible update to my favorite podcast app. It features Smart Resume, the option to delete episodes 24 hours after completion, and support for some password-protected feeds. If you already use Overcast, get the update now. And if you don’t, this is a great time to consider switching.

I was really excited about support for password-protected feeds. I subscribe to the Wrestling Observer and listen to many of their shows, but the only way to get those episodes into Overcast has been to utilize the premium-only uploads feature. I built a workflow to help with the process, but it’s still tedious. My hopes were high, but upon testing it with the Wrestling Observer’s feeds, it looks like Overcast’s system doesn’t work for the shows I listen to. They must be using some alternative authentication method that Overcast doesn’t support. Maybe that will change in a future update, but until then, I’m stuck using my old process.

Smart Resume, on the other hand, is exactly the type of feature that has kept me using Overcast. Adjusting the seek point to add context and minimize resumes in the middle of words is such a great little detail that subtly improves my listening experience.