There’s Usually an Easier Way

There was a UK TV crime show back in the early 90s that I used to watch. It only lasted one season (1994), and, while it was enjoyable, the theme song was what stuck with me. In fact, I made an audio recording of the theme — manually, as this was l-o-n-g before consumer audio recording and editing software! — which has been part of my music collection ever since. It’s part of my “gym collection”, on my iPod Shuffle.

Yesterday I decided to see if I could find a digital version of the piece. I had, however, long forgotten the name of the show.

Google to the rescue! From the name of the song and the fact it was associated with a UK TV show in the 90s I was able to find the show name, Anna Lee.

Finding a digital recording of the theme — at least one which wouldn’t require me to infect my desktop from some Dark Web torrent server πŸ™‚ — was harder. There wasn’t much of a market for the theme, or the show for that matter.

But I was able to dig up some youtube video recordings of a couple of episodes, which of course included the theme song, albeit with some voiceovers. I thought I’d take a crack at editing the actors’ voices out of the audio stream.

Capturing audio to disk from something playing through your computer turns out to be a tad difficult. Microsoft, under pressure from the recording industry, years ago hid the “Stereo Mix” capability that essentially every sound card or motherboard audio subsystem has provided since the early oughts. “Stereo Mix” allows you to capture any sound playing through your system, with the right software.

However, if you right click on the recording devices window that comes up when you right click on the speaker icon in Windows and select “Recording devices”, you can tell it to “Show disabled devices”…which is where they hid “Stereo Mix”. Select “Stereo Mix” and activate it, and voila!, your audio software will let you record the sounds you’re hearing. So I was able to capture the theme song.

I then spent quite a bit of time trying to remove the voiceovers that in Adobe Audition, without success.

At which point it occurred to me to check iTunes for the artist who performed the theme song. I’d earlier looked for the song directly, and didn’t find it.

And there it was, for $1.29. Easily worth saving three hours of work in Audition. If only I’d known :).

The moral is this: if at first you don’t find that easier way, keep looking. It’s probably there, in some unexpected guise.

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