The Best Ways to Save Audio Streams From the Internet

Tools to create audio files from online sources

Digital equalizer showing current levels
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Saving streamed digital music or other audio from the internet can be accomplished using specialized software that employs your system's sound card to record the audio, rather than trying to download the playable file directly, which is generally not easily accomplished.

The downside to using this type of software is that if your computer makes noise while recording a music track, the interference is also captured.

Streaming Audio From Websites

Apps that record internet streams are the most widely used tools for capturing streaming audio. These software apps record sound from a microphone, an auxiliary input device, or even sound in a game.

Internet recording apps grab any sound that your computer's sound card outputs. This is especially useful for recording from streaming music services or websites. Examples include Aktive MP3 Recorder, Free Sound Recorder, and Streamosaur.

Most streaming audio recorders support various formats to save recordings to, with MP3 being the standard (for compatibility between devices).

Internet Radio Stations

If you specifically want to capture streaming audio that is broadcast from radio stations, use an internet radio recorder.

Screenshot of RadioSure Internet Radio Recorder

A few popular apps include RadioSure Free, Nexus Radio, and Jobee, among others. These apps keep an updated database of available stations and, once connected to one of these databases, play the live music and record the music if you wish.

Audio From YouTube Videos

If you like the music on a YouTube video but don't want the visuals, there are tools for turning these videos into MP3s. This process involves extracting the audio by converting a video file into an MP3 file.

Screenshot of the GenYouTube website

These tools include browser extensions, such as GenYouTube, and apps like MediaHuman's YouTubetoMP3, among several others.

Is It Legal to Record Streaming Audio?

This area of the law causes a lot of confusion. Some say it's acceptable to record audio (using the Analog Hole legal loophole). Legality here hinges on what you are recording: If the music you are streaming is protected by copyright, then you shouldn't create a digital audio file. If you were to do so, and then distribute that file in some fashion, you're definitely straying into illegal activity.

The analog loophole argues that by recording analog audio, you aren't making a direct copy. The digital original is converted to an analog form that can be played from your sound card and this may be considered a new digital file.

The main thing to keep in mind when recording internet audio using the methods above is to not distribute the files you created. The last thing you want to do with your recordings is to inadvertently make them available to others through P2P file-sharing networks.