I was prepared for an enthralling day's play. Ricky Ponting would soon be due at the crease, and across the land, millions were tuning in to Channel Nine to farewell the former Australian captain in his final test match over an illustrious seventeen-year career.
I made a stovetop coffee and settled into the couch, watching what I hoped would be the first of at least thirty Ricky Ponting highlight packages over the course of the day.
But I was soon shaken from my happy stupor. Barely had the cricket begun when Channel Nine decided to show off their newest bright idea—a live cross to a magical, touch-screen betting desk where some nitwit in suit and tie (so you can trust him!) yammered on about gambling odds for five minutes.
This was just not cricket. "Punter" he may be, but I do not want to hear what the gambling industry thinks of Ricky Ponting's chances of failure. Where were my highlight packages set to emotional radio hits?
Moreover, I had seen this magic desk before! Unless my eyes deceived me, Ian Healy sat behind this very same table of sorcery during segments in the Adelaide test, where he would madly poke and swipe at the tabletop in order to convince us that it was actually him bringing statistics and replays up on the TV screen, rather than the editors and production crew that have capably handled this task for the last few decades.
Things grew increasingly insufferable. As the lunch break drew near, Mark Taylor saw fit to discuss remote-controlled helicopters for the third or fourth time that day, informing us of Bill Lawry's head-scratching belief that a grown man can fit into and pilot one of these devices—much like Mr Burns and his "Spruce Moose" in The Simpsons' casino episode. I needn't remind anyone that only one of these occurrences was actually amusing.
And as always, the chance of finding pure nonsense behind Ian Healy's "analysis" of the match was roughly identical to the chance of finding chocolate behind an advent calendar. Luckily, my fortunes were about to change—thanks to some unintended interference from my stomach and my television.
Hungry for snacks, I had gone to the shops during the 40-minute lunch break, and returned to find my TV as mute as a fish. Having obtained this TV from the side of the road during my local hard rubbish day, it's not surprising that it has several bad habits, this particular one being that it sometimes refuses to provide me with any sound whatsoever.
Usually a quick on-and-off solves this problem, but today, no amount of button mashing or switch flicking would return the warm sound of willow knocking on leather to my cricket pictures.
I needed a solution, pronto. I had often heard of people muting Channel Nine and listening to the far-superior ABC radio commentary instead. I tried this—but the pictures and audio were well out of sync. This would not do.
So I fixed it. And here's how. Tell your friends.
Download and install this program: Radiodelay, by DaanSystems. It's free, small, and very easy to use.
Find an audio cable with a male jack on each end. They're pretty cheap to buy if you don't have one. As pictured below, I used a guitar lead with a 3.5mm adapter attached to each end.
Mute your TV. Phew. Get your radio and tune it to the ABC—alternatively, get your smartphone, tablet, or similar and stream ABC radio online. Then, use the audio cable to connect the radio to your computer's microphone input. Don't put the radio too close to the TV; you may get interference with the radio signal.
Open up your computer's mixer/audio control. We'll need to check your microphone settings.
A quick lesson for those who want it: there are two basic ways in which you can affect the level of sound that comes through your microphone jack. You can change the input of the jack (ie, how loud the computer "hears" what comes through the microphone), and you can change the output of the jack (ie, how loud the computer repeats through its speakers what it "hears").
You should make sure your microphone input is selected and turned up enough so as to "hear" the audio coming in from your radio. However, you should make sure that your microphone output is either muted or set to its lowest setting. We don't want your computer repeating the radio audio just yet.
Finally, open up the Radiodelay program. As the ABC commentary will be ahead of the TV pictures, we need to delay the audio coming in through your computer's microphone input.
Press play in Radiodelay (you should now begin to hear the radio through your computer's speakers) and then experiment with moving the delay slider until your pictures and sound match up.
Personally, using Melbourne ABC 774 as my audio, I set the delay to 4.8 seconds if watching the cricket on Nine, and 4.4 seconds if watching on GEM. This lines the audio up with the pictures near-perfectly!
Keep in mind that these delay numbers might be very different for you. For instance, they may change if you are:
- listening to a different ABC station;
- using streaming internet radio rather than broadcast radio;
- watching via your Foxtel box rather than over free-to-air; or
- living in a different place.
Or you could stick with Channel Nine, and listen to Ian Healy continue his one-man rage against phoney Twitter accounts.
Up to you, really.