Instructions for Recording Skype Conversations

kentbye's picture

After much experimentation, I've finally figured out how to record a Skype call on my Macintosh without having to use external hardware or hearing an echo of my own voice.

This will enable me to record my phone conversations and then share them as podcasts in order to help develop the community -- both calls to regular phone numbers by using SkypeOut for two cents a minute, but also directly to other Skype users for free.

Beth Kanter made a very interesting diagram about "Audio as Online Conversation for Online Communities Experiment" that is rich with ideas -- so there is a lot of issues to explore. (via Nancy White)

So I hope to experiment with mediating audio conversations here on EchoChamberProject.com by using the RSS feeds associated with the folksonomy tags served up by Drupal.

A lot of the "How to Record Skype Recipes" include Audacity and Soundflower Bed, but I finally got it to work with WireTap Pro (shareware program for $19), LineIn, and Soundflower, a pair of headphones and a USB Mixer / Microphone.

Here's a schematic and table of the input and output settings of these programs that I used to get it to work -- as well as a screenshot of the preference settings for a quick reference and sanity check.

Schematic for recording Skype Conversations

INPUT OUTPUT
Macintosh System Preferences USB Audio CODEC / USB Port Headphones / Built-In Audio Port
Skype USB Audio CODEC Built-In Audio Headphones
LineIn USB Audio CODEC Soundflower (2ch)
WireTap Pro Source: "Mac Audio and Microphone" /
Mic/Line-In: "Soundflower (2ch)"
not applicable

It's also possible to record the USB Mixer / Microphone input directly through the Built-In Audio, but there was a really annoying delay and echo of my own voice. It's really difficult to talk with delayed feedback being piped into your ears. Some people use speakers to eliminate this feedback, but then there is additional feedback or an echo. Passing the microphone input through LineIn and then Soundflower eliminates this echo when using headphones.

Below is a screenshot of all of the preferences as well as some afterthoughts...

Preferences for recording Skype

UPDATE 11/10/05: I've been able to successfully record a conversation with this setup, but I've run into another setting change that should be made in order to edit the WireTap Pro audio in Sound Track Pro. The default Preferences > Format > File Format of AIFF & Compressor of IMA 4:1 gives the following error when you try to load the *.aifc file into Sound Track Pro:

Can't open file ".../Music/Recordings/test.aifc" because the file uses an unsupported compression format.

Setting the File Format Preference to AAC and Compressor to MPEG-4 Audio solves this problem.

AFTERTHOUGHTS
The often-cited Audacity / Soundflower Bed combination was a bit buggy, and I could either hear Skype or I could hear the microphone -- and the only way to hear both was to not use Soundflower (2ch). So I was never able record both at the same time with the setup.

In this process, I discovered that my XLR microphone needed a pre-amp in order to record on my Mac, and so I had the choice to buy an iMic that would convert from to 1/8" microphone jack input to USB output, but I ended up getting the more versatile Alesis Multimix 8 USB mixer instead.

I also had my USB mixer plugged into the front USB port on my Mac G5 and it was very noisy, but the noise went away when I used one of the back USB ports. Not sure why that's true, but there was a really annoying buzz until I moved it. UPDATE: This same buzzing came back after I opened Audacity. I'm not sure why Audacity would add so much noise to the mixer input, but I shut everything down, switched USB ports again, and it seems to be working again.

The only thing that this approach does not allow me to do is to patch audio from my computer into a Skype call. If anyone figures out a solution for how to do this, then it'd be great to be able to weave audio sound bite clips into conversations. If not, then I'm just happy to finally get this to work.

still trying...

I downloaded the trial version of call recorder and can't seem to get it to work. I recorded a call (calling my skypeIn from the cell phone again) and it created a quicktime file I can play -- but there's no audio. I am wondering if I need Mac os 10.4 to do this since it records calls in video mode, but call recorder video won't work in 10.3.9, which is what I have. Powergramo is windows only? Bummer. Still trying to figure out how to record calls so I can import them to audacity! Thanks for your help...if you have any ideas on what I'm doing wrong, let me know!

wait a minute

Ok, I must have had something wrong in sunflower because now I can hear the skype call I recorded. I can totally hear it in it's quicktime file...now how to get it to my audacity? The call recorder instructions are no more than to click and drag...maybe I do need Mac OS 10.4? hmm... Ok, that's enough geeking out for tonight.

Two programs for recording VoIP/Skype

Two programs for recording VoIP/Skype:

-----------------------------------
PowerGramo
http://www.powergramo.com
PowerGramo is a powerful Skype audio recorder. It flawlessly records all type of Skype calls (pc-to-pc, skype in/out, conference, skypecast, etc..) with the best quality and have call records encrypted and password protected. Recording is done automantically and necessary information about calls is saved together with the calls for your future review. It is the perfect tool for podcasting, online journalism, conducting business, and much more!

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vEmotion
http://www.voiceemotion.com
vEmotion is a perfect VoIP audio assistant. It flawlessly record VoIP calls into MP3 or WAV files with data and infos encrypted and password protected. Also add life to your VoIP voice convsations. Enjoyable things include background music, voice emotion (lively audio clips), text to speech that enable you to talk without openning your mouth.

It is the perfect tool for podcasting, online journalism, conducting business, and much more!

The program is compatible with nearly all VoIP clients, among which Skype, ICQ, Msn/WLM, Gtalk, AIM/AIM Triton/AIM Pro, Yahoo Messenger and QQ were fully tested and explicitly supported. Other VoIP clients, such as voipcheap, teltel, sipphone, are supported via simple user customization. You can tune up all these IM and VOIP clients with single installation of the software.

Recording a skype call on my mac -- caller on landline

I am trying to figure out -- and I'm sorta tech retarded, so bear with me -- how to record interviews on my mac with audacity. All is going well, except when someone calls me from outside of skype via a landline or cell. I have no idea how to raise the volume on the caller's voice. I have tested it this morning calling my skypein number on my cell and I can barely hear my voice. I don't know how to set this so I can both record the caller and myself talking into the mac's built-in mic. I have a 2-year-old powerbook. I guess I have to try recording someone calling from skype too...have no idea how to get everything set right and really want to record an interview this way! Any pointers welcome.

Easy way to record Skype Conversations

I found this site for a plugin that allows easy recording of Skype call. If records in .mov format but, it somes with a move to mp3 converter app. Here is the site http://www.ecamm.com/ If you have Rogue Amoeba's Line you can use the Passthrough and have a somewhat delayed monitor of your voice. For a 12 dollar plugin it is worth it. Try it!!!!

kentbye's picture

Mixer connections

You have to plug in the headphones directly into the Alesis to hear the microphone. Other details are above.

humming with the Alesis multimix8

Do you still experience the humming with the alesis multimix 8? Or did moving the usb connection to the back of mac permanently solve it with Audacity? I have the same problem and am having a hard time solving it.

kentbye's picture

Humming did go away

The humming did not come back and went away after that point, and of course I didn't want to take my chances with having it come back.

It seemed to be connected to Audacity, but I have no idea why that would actually be true.

alesis multimix8 connections

Question - what are the connections from the MAC to the multimix that you use? I have the mixer connected via the USB cable to my Mac - and I the MAC recognizes my microphone through the mixer - but I do not hear output from the PC in my headphones. Any ideas?

Recording Skype using Plantronics headset

Any experience using this set up with a Plantronics headset?

I used an Audio Hijack/Line In/Soundflower combo, generally with success, but to stop feedback between the mic and speakers on my Powerbook I was using a headset and that means the audio in/out settings need to be set to that...

It's giving me a headache. Can't Skype just add record function and save us all some time?!