Recording Calls on Your Computer Using Audacity

Record and edit your internet phone calls

This article covers different ways to record calls you make via Skype, Discord, or other VoIP services on your computer using Audacity.

Use a VoIP Recorder and Insert the File Into Audacity

Starting with version 8, Skype supports call recording, but only for Skype-to-Skype calls. Consider apps like Pamela to record your Skype calls outside the network, then place the file into Audacity for subsequent editing and mixing.

Mix Individual Tracks

If you're working to create a polished final product, you may find value in having every participant in a Skype call record their own version, then have one person use Audacity to blend these files into one clean version that doesn't necessarily sound like a VoIP call.

Use Two Computers

If one computer handles the Skype conversation or the Discord chat, push that computer's audio-out into the audio-in of a different computer running Audacity. Many experienced podcasters or streamers use this approach. It requires a second computer and some dedicated hardware (like a mixer or patch cables), but it's a bulletproof solution if you can afford the gear.

Monitor the Audio on Loopback

Because you can specify only a single audio-in connection, you can configure the application to record either the remote party (for example, your caller or your friends in a group audio chat) or the local party (that is, you with your microphone, talking into Skype or Discord). You can simulate both halves of the conversation in Audacity by setting the remote caller as the audio-in, then changing the microphone settings to monitor it. The audio quality will be awful for your voice, but in a pinch, it'll work.

To set this up in Windows 10:

  1. In Audacity, change the MME setting in the toolbar to Windows WASAPI and change the audio-in to the loopback version of the speakers you're using on the Skype call.

  2. In Windows, go to Start > Settings.

    Settings in the Windows 10 Start menu
  3. Select System.

    System in Windows Settings
  4. Select Sound in the left sidebar, then select Device properties under Inputs.

    Sound and Device Properties in Windows System settings
  5. Select Additional device properties.

    Additional device properties in Windows sound settings
  6. In the pop-up window, go to the Listen tab, select the Listen to this device check box, then select OK. This setting repeats everything your mic says to your speakers.

    Listen tab and Listen to this device in Additional device properties in Windoiws sound settings

The Listen to this device approach will not yield good audio quality for your part of the Skype call.

Get Clever With Speakers

If you have more than one audio-in device, configure Skype or Discord to use your external speakers and, for example, a webcam microphone. Then, configure Audacity to record using something like a Blue Yeti mic to capture the audio coming from your speakers and your voice.

This approach may not work for some people, and it may be challenging to nail Audacity's audio quality, but it just might work for you.

Limitations to Recording With Audacity

Although Audacity is a powerful, free, and open-source recording and editing application for audio, it suffers from one limitation: It only allows a single audio-in feed. Because VoIP calls in Skype and group-chat conversations in Discord require both inputs and outputs, Audacity cannot record both halves of the conversation.

The real challenge is Audacity's single-line-in recording logic. However, this problem isn't unique to Audacity. The Windows platform relies on its sound card to compile audio-in and audio-out feeds. More advanced sound recording tools, like Adobe Audition, experience the same challenge in a Windows environment. However, Macs generally do not have a similar all-or-nothing audio-management requirement built into the operating system.

Professionals using Windows usually opt for a dedicated external mixer so that all inputs and outputs route to a hardware device. That device's output may serve as a unified input for feeding into Audacity.

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