So… These days it isn’t so hard to watch pretty much any game of football you like online if you know where to look. The problem being that the streams are often of variable quality, sourced as they are predominantly from foreign tv coverage. This is all well and good if you can find Fox Sports from Australia or one of the American soccer channels, as the commentary’s in English, often apparently delivered by the dream team ticket of some guy who used to do the UEFA cup on ITV4 and an unlikely ex-pro. Yes, even Warren Barton it seems is capable of finding gainful employment overseas, summarising mid-table end of season clashes for obscure US sports stations.
The problem arises when the only stream you can find is from somewhere in the non-English speaking world, and try as I might, there’s only so much of the Turkish John Motson screaming in an opposition goal I can take. It’s in situations such as these that I tend to turn to good old Five Live, whose commentaries are all accessible through the BBC’s website. If a London team is playing BBC London often have a go too. Anyway, this solution would be reasonably functional, were it not for the fact that the radio commentary tends to be anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds ahead of the streamed images. This, as you can imagine, somewhat negates the effort spent trying to find an illegal stream in the first place, as every ounce of anticipation is denied by the knowledge of what’s going to happen in a minute’s time. So… the other afternoon, whilst watching Spurs comfortably stroll past a Portsmouth side struggling to even field 11 men, I decided to do something about it. Read on past the break for the full solution…
What was needed was some way of delaying the audio stream until it caught up with the visuals. Being a geek I decided to write that something myself using Max/MSP. You can download the application from the link below, but first you’ll have to install Soundflower, a free download from cycling74. I should add that from this point on things are Mac only, as that’s what I’ve got, and I don’t really understand Windows. Sorry. Should anyone have the inclination I’m happy to share the source.
Soundflower allows you to route the sound outputs of an application internally. If, say you wanted to record a streamed radio programme you could use Soundflower out of Real Player (for example) into Audacity (for example). Download it and install from the link above. Once that’s all done, go to your System Preferences and select Sound. Go to the Output tab and select Soundflower (2ch) as the output.
Now download the Max/MSP application from this link:
Installation should simply be a case of copying the application to your local machine. It should run from the disk image too. Open it up, and it should all be reasonably self-explanitory. The key is the ‘settings’ button. Upon pressing it you should hopefully see something that looks like the screenshot below. You now want to select Soundflower (2ch) as the input and Internal Speakers (or Headphones) as the output.
Close the settings window. Now find the audio stream you want to listen to. I recommend starting at http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live - if the game you want to listen to is on live there’s normally a link on the front page. The BBC radio streams usually open into a new window, so you can close the main window if you like. Click the speaker icon on the delay application – assuming everything is set right and the radio stream is playing you should see the level meter on the left hand side moving. The fader in the centre controls the output volume, and turning that up should result in level on the right hand meter and all being well, you’ll hear the commentary. The final control is the number in the centre – this is the amount of delay in seconds. Now it’s simply a case of trying to work out what the discrepancy between the images and sound is. The radio will generally be first, so I usually try finding a significant moment in play and counting the number of seconds until I see it on screen. Transfer that number to the box on the application and with a bit of luck and fiddling you should have a combined audio and visual stream.