The Best Ways to Save Audio Streams From the Internet

Tools to create audio files from online sources

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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 software can also record sound from a microphone, an auxiliary input device, or even sound in a game. This type of program can grab just about any sound that your computer's sound card outputs. This is especially useful for recording from streaming music services or websites.

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

Streaming Audio From Websites

Apps that let you record internet streams are the most widely used tools for capturing streaming audio. They're multipurpose and can often capture from a microphone, too. Examples include Aktive MP3 Recorder, Free Sound Recorder, and Streamosaur.

Most streaming audio recorders support various formats to save recordings to, with the 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, then you'll need an internet radio recorder.

RadioSure Internet Radio Recorder
RadioSure with Midnight Fire skin. Mark Harris

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, let you listen to the live music and even record it 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 can involve extracting the audio by converting a video file into an MP3 file.

Screenshot of the GenYouTube free YouTube to MP3 converter 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 should you be creating a digital audio file? Perhaps not. If you were to do so, and then distribute that file in some fashion, then 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 was converted first to an analog form for play from your sound card, and you then converted that into what may, perhaps technically, be considered a new digital file.

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