Solutions For Recording Phone Calls in Your Podcasts and Webcasts

01
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Introduction: The Concept of Mixing Your Audio

He's connected in more ways than one
PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

While some reading this may be more advanced, just as a precaution, I've decided to start at a basic level. If you are familiar with audio mixers and how they work, just move on to the next step.

When you are recording your voice and a second voice (or more audio elements), it's general easiest to use either a hardware mixer or software that emulates a mixer.

The diagram I have created demonstrates how this simple process works. Your audio goes into the mixer, each element on a separate "channel". In this example, your microphone is channel 1, the telephone audio is channel 2, and a CD player is hooked up to channel 6. Click to see diagram.

You use the controls on each channel to adjust that channel's volume. When you have the overall sound as you like it, you begin your recording session and the mixed output of all three elements leaves the mixer via the LINE OUTPUT JACKS where wires take it to the LINE INPUT JACKS attached to the soundcard of your computer.

This example demonstrates a traditional hardware mixer. Although there are a multitude of software applications which emulate hardware mixers, in order to do what the hardware mixer can do, your computer must have a sound card which accepts more than one stereo channel of input.

Most sound cards are not setup for more than one traditional channel of input. There are more sophisticated sound cards but that is not the focus of this material.

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02
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Recording Phone Calls Using Traditional Telephones - Landlines

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RadioShack makes a product called Smart Phone Recorder Control (Model: 43-2208 as of this writing).

It's about $29.99 and according to Radio Shack it "...begins recording on a cassette deck once you pick up the phone. This phone recorder control instantly starts your audio recorder when the telephone receiver or handset is picked up. It connects to any audio recorder with remote and microphone jacks."

Now, since it records to tape, you will have another step transferring the recorded audio from the cassette deck into your computer via the sound card's input jacks.

A similar product is available through Ahern called Konexx Model 100 Recording Jack. It records on cassette and interfaces with most sound cards, too. It retails for about $59.95. 

 

Westek makes TeleTool 2000, a PC/telephone recorder. It allows you to record from a telephone directly into your computer. It's around $39.99 but this Pricegrabber link will show you an instant price comparison.

Using a product like this will save you that extra step of trasnferring your recorded audio from a cassette deck as in the first product.

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03
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Recording Phone Calls Using Cell Phones - Wireless

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RadioShack makes the Wireless Phone Recording Controller (Model: 17-855 as of this writing). It plugs into 2.5mm jack on your phone. An on/off switch lets you pick which conversations to record. It's $26.99.

I have personally used this product and it has worked quite well. It will allow you to capture audio from your phone directly to your computer sound card. Be aware it will record both you and your caller's audio. (Tip: to avoid having my final production contain my voice from the phone line, I record my questions simultaneously via a microphone and mix out the phone channel during my questions and comments.)

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04
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Recording Phone Calls Using VOIP Phones - (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

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FREE SOLUTIONS


Free solutions are always popular. MP3 Skype Recorder is freeware. It automatically or manually records all your Skype calls and stores your conversations on your hard drive in separate MP3 formatted files. The application's website says it will record SkypeOut, P2P Skye calls, and Skype Online numbers. Download it using this links at ​voipcallrecording.com.

iFree Skype Recorder claims to be easy to use and free as well. It will automatically or manually record your Skype calls and can be used for Skype2Skype calls, SkypeOut/SkypeIn calls, and Conference calls. Download this software at ifree-recorder.com.

SHAREWARE Podcasters looking for a new way to record Skype calls for their podcasts might want to look at this product from Applian Technologies. Replay Telecorder for Skype is touted as an easy, one-click Skype audio/video recorder.

According to a press release: "Replay Telecorder offers the user a choice of six different call recording options from an easy to access drop-down menu. These recording options are: audio only, picture in a picture, side-by-side video, recording just the local video, recording just the remote video or recording the call as two separate files."

Replay Telecorder for Skype requires Windows 7, XP or Vista with Skype installed and retails for $29.95. A free demo is available at the Applian Technologies website.

HotRecorder is a software application which is designed to work with VOIP products like Skype and Vonage.

According to the HotRecorder website: "HotRecorder for VOIP is an advanced tool that allows you to easily record, play, store and convert voice communications held over the Internet. HotRecorder records all parties in 2 different channels and merges them into a single file."

A trial version is available for download and if you decide you like it, the premium version is only $14.95.

You can download the file at www.hotrecorder.com.

IMCapture for Skype is a software application designed to record voice or video from Skype conversations. The price at this writing is $49.95 but you can download a trial copy at: www.IMCapture.com.

(I have not personally used most of these products so I make no claims on behalf of them.) For more, click NEXT or SCROLL DOWN for more options.

05
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A Web-Based Solution for All Types of Phones

With NoNotes.com you simply call a toll-free number or use one of the services mobile apps (iPhone, Torch, Android). Decide whether to record a call, record and transcribe a call, or record and transcribe dictation. Dial the number you're actually calling and conduct your business. After you hang up, NoNotes.com will notify you when your recording is ready.

You can sign up for a free account which will allow you to record up to 20 minutes each month, auto email the recording, and allow you to use the transcription feature if you need it on a fee basis. Other pricing options (Pay Per Use or Subscription) cater to your recording needs whether they are sporadic or regular.

NoNotes.com is only available in the U.S. and Canada at the moment.

06
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More Recording Solutions

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Additionally, I have come across other applications and resources which may be useful in recording phone conversations. Here are the links:

The Call Corder website says, "Call Corder records telephone calls and conversations directly to your hard disk with a single push of button, optionally playing a legal disclaimer (ideal for use in business environment). It stores calls as standard Windows sound files." You can download an evaluation copy at www.voicecallcentral.com. Call Corder is $49.95.

Modem Spy is designed to record phone calls in either .mp3 or .wav format. A trial version is available at www.modemspy.com. The registered version is $34.95

There's also the professional route. AudioFile Solutions provides a conference call recording service. This is a manual process and monitored by a recording engineer. The company also offers editing services.

MORE OPTIONS

The products I've mentioned in this piece are only some of the solutions available for recording audio from traditional, cell, and VOIP telephones. If you have a suggestion for a product, please send it to me at Radio@aboutguide.com

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07
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Diagram of How Audio Elements Work With A Mixer and Computer

Audio Mixer Diagram
Audio Mixer Diagram. Graphic Credit: © Corey Deitz

This diagram above shows how a typical mixer is used with a microphone, telephone audio, and CD player.

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