Purpose: Streaming audio/video capture and conversion, and standalone audio/video converters
Format: Digital download
Developer: Jaksta Technologies Pty Ltd
Minimum System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6 or later, Intel processor
Availability: Out now
Disclaimer: Neither Appletell nor Jaksta Technologies condone or encourage the illegal copying or sharing of copyrighted content. Per the disclaimer on Jaksta’s website: “Jaksta is not intended for use in circumventing copy protection mechanisms or for making illegal copies of copyrighted content. Please respect the rights of the content owners when recording.”
AppleTell reviewed Jaksta’s original streaming media converter in late 2011, and found it to be a competent way to capture streaming media from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Grooveshark, etc. The company hasn’t been idle since then, and has upgraded Jaksta to v5, building out the conversion functionality that was part of the original Jaksta into two separate programs specifically for converting music and video files. They’ve also created a music-only app designed to capture just audio, providing faster, more convenient conversions. Bundled together with the original Jaksta, these apps offer a robust set of video and audio capture and conversion options, so you can take videos or songs offline and onto your favorite devices.
In my original Jaksta review I noted that one of its strongest use cases was as an audio capture tool for music enthusiasts. While the original app was capable of capturing videos and then converting them to songs, this was still a needlessly cumbersome process. In addition, unless you were diligent about cleaning up after your conversions were done, you could end up with lots of useless video files taking up space on your hard drive. To alleviate this issue, the new Music Miner app takes the same technology and repackages it as a music-only tool. As you listen to music in your browser, the Music Miner grabs what you’re browsing and makes iTunes-compatible versions of the media, whether it’s a wicked dance remix or simply a recording of your favorite local group performing at a festival.
Killer features of the Music Miner app include Notification Center integration so you can disable the sound alerts in the app but still get status updates as tracks are recognized and converted. Like the main Jaksta app, the Music Miner intelligently converts your files to their optimum quality, so there aren’t any complex conversion settings to muck around with. The app is also capable of adding converted tracks directly iTunes, including full track information (no more mystery tracks in iTunes). The only downside is the app’s inability to capture audio from encrypted streams, so any site using HTTPS (like Soundcloud) is incompatible. Sites like YouTube, Pandora, and Grooveshark work just fine, however.
Music Miner is available as part of the Jaksta Deluxe Package, or as a $20 standalone app.
Music and Video Converter
Although the Jaksta and Music Miner apps sell themselves on simplicity, they are in fact capable of very complex file conversions. Each offers support for a multitude of media formats as input, though both are geared mainly for quick-and-easy conversion to iTunes-compatible formats. With the standalone Video Converter and Music Converter apps, Jaksta offers up the ability to do more complex conversions with more granular control over the settings. Both apps offer drag and drop simplicity with iTunes integration, and both take full advantage of all your Mac’s speed for lightning fast conversions.
The Music Converter offers a broad range of options from simple to complex, so if you want to do a batch conversion of odd file formats to AAC or MP3, you can simply drop the files onto the Converter window and hit Convert. Like all the Jaksta apps, this one is intelligent enough to optimize the output settings based on the input, so if you have very high quality input files, you’ll get high quality output (e.g. you won’t get a 128 Kbps MP3 from a FLAC file).
You’ve got four simple choices for automated conversion: iTunes (the most automated), MP3, AAC, and Ringtone (a middle level of control). Should you want another format (like Apple Lossless), or if you want to control additional settings such as bit rate, sample rate, mono/stereo, etc., you can also create custom presets (the highest degree of control). Even with the advanced options, converting files is still a simple drag-drop-click experience, and the converted tracks can then be automatically added to iTunes to save you a step. You can even convert saved video files into iTunes tracks, just like you would streaming videos using Jaksta or Music Miner.
The Video Converter offers up a similar experience, but with more device-specific conversion options. There are hundreds of supported input formats, and for output you can choose from options like AppleTV, iPad, iPhone/iPod, Android Phone/Table, PS3, XBox, Tivo, or audio-only (an overlap in functionality with the Music Converter). There are no custom presets, but the app does offer a great option to append the destination type to the filename. If you create multiple versions of the same movie for different destinations, “Converted Movie-iPad.m4a” is a much more helpful filename. The drag and drop interface lets you easily queue up multiple files for conversion, so it’s especially useful when you’ve ripped episodes of a TV show from DVD and need to convert them for various devices.
Both the video and music converters are available as part of the Jaksta Deluxe bundle, or as standalone apps for $20 each.
For only $20 more than the base Jaksta app (which can still be purchased for $50), the addition of the Music Miner, Music Converter, and Video Converter elevate Jaksta from a basic utility to a must-have. The apps are all well designed and easy to use, though the overlapping functionalities can be a bit confusing at first. Whether you need to download an instructional video to keep handy or want to expand your music library to include your favorite band’s live performances, the Jaksta apps offer a solid blend of power and simplicity. Conversions are quick and painless with top notch output quality, so these apps are easy to recommend.
If you’re on the fence, each app is available as a fully-featured download with restrictions only on the number of conversions, so you can take it for a spin before committing. Existing customers should check out the upgrades page to determine upgrade pricing.