How to Record a Phone Call

Category: Telephony

I need to record phone calls for some interviews I will be doing. I know there are some gadgets you can connect to your phone, but I'm thinking that a software solution will work better for voice recording. What do you recommend?

Recording a Phone Call

If you have an important phone call coming up, you may want to record it for transcription or later review. There are many ways to record phone calls, no matter what kind of phone you use. Let's start with some free and inexpensive call-recording solutions that use the popular Skype phone software.

Audacity is a free, open source program for recording and editing sounds. It comes in versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Audacity has been around for many years, and has been used successfully to record calls placed via the Skype VoIP service. The program is more of a general-purpose audio editor than a specific phone call recording app, but the trick is to tell Audacity to use the "What U Hear" option, which records whatever is being played through the speakers. It works great on Windows XP, but Win7 users may have to finagle a few settings to get it working. Search for "audacity windows 7 what u hear" and you'll find detailed instructions.
Record a Phone Call

Pamela for Skype is a Windows app written especially for Skype. It not only records voice conversations, but also video and chat sessions. The free version of Pamela records only the first 15 minutes of a Skype call. You must pay a registration fee of about $25 for the unrestricted Pro version.

MP3 Skype Recorder is a totally free Skype recording solution for Windows. (The Microsoft .NET Framework must also be installed.) This program is "set it and forget it." Once installed and activated, it sits invisibly in the system tray, automatically recording any type of Skype call. It can even record multiple simultaneous calls, saving them to separate MP3 files.

Recording Calls with Smartphones and Landlines

The iPhone does not come with call-recording functionality, but there are apps for that. The iPhone Recorder by Retronyms is one example. It can record inbound and outbound calls, and voice memos. The resulting audio file can be forwarded via email easily.

Android-based call recording apps are plentiful. The xPro Call Recorder Widget is an easy-to-use solution that costs only 99 cents. However, it must be used in speakerphone mode to record both sides of a conversation. Record My Call is a free app for Android phones that records both incoming and outgoing calls. Its author recommends using it on speakerphone for better recording quality. Both can be found in the Android Market.

Google Voice does call recording with some advantages and disadvantages. Google Voice is free and platform-independent, so you can use it with your PC, iPhone, Android smartphone, landline, or any other type of phone. However, you must obtain a Google Voice phone number, and you can only place outbound calls. When the recording function is activated, an automated notice is spoken to all call participants that the call is being recorded.

There's a reason for that... Recording a phone conversation without the knowledge and consent of all participants is illegal in some jurisdictions. But in other jurisdictions, only one party's consent is required; that could be you, the recorder. Google plays it safe by notifying all parties.

Cogi is a Web-based service that records and even transcribes phone calls placed from any type of phone or softphone. However, the Cogi customer must initiate the call by dialing a Cogi access number, then dialing the number(s) of other participants. It's free to try for 30 days, and monthly service plans start at just $4.95.

And yes, there are still hardware call recording devices. One of the least expensive and highest rated is the Olympus TP-7 Telephone Recording Device. The TP7 costs under $20, works with cell phones and landlines, and records both sides of a conversation onto a tape or digital audio recorder.

Do you have something to say about recording phone calls? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "How to Record a Phone Call"

Posted by:

Cal Fisher
13 Apr 2011

With Google Voice you can also get inbound calls. You can even have different phone numbers for it to reach you at. Google will also email you a transcript of the call and a mp3 to listen to the conversation. Transcripts are not the best but it gives you an idea of what was discussed. I have been using Google Voice for about a year now and love it.


Posted by:

David Pittle
13 Apr 2011

I bought the paid version of Pamela Recorder and it worked a couple times when just playing around, but when I used it to record a podcast interview, it failed to start or save the recording (I don't know which.)

I had to apologize and beg for another shot with the interviewee--who was kind enough to do it again.

I emailed and called the Pamela vendors but never got a response to my query. Tried again without success. So I bought another product, Skype Recorder which worked perfectly. I've now used it for about a dozen interviews with good results.


Posted by:

Rob Conlin
13 Apr 2011

Your article should note the legal aspects of recording telephone conversations. it is illegal to do so in many states unless both parties have notice of and agree to the recording. In some cases, such recordings are a felony.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I did mention that...


Posted by:

eric
13 Apr 2011

I've had a lot of good use of a freeware program called "Phone Recorder v1.6" written by Bob Day (http://bobday.vze.com). The interface is extremely simple -- one button -- and it saves the conversation as a .wav which then can be attached to email or, after conversion, to a CD.


Posted by:

Ted Murphy
15 Apr 2011

Hi Bob,

Check out Call Trunk -- we do it differently. The way it works is a secure request is made from your web browser or smartphone out to the Call Trunk servers. Two phone calls are placed, one to your own phone and one to the destination phone (any phone with a phone number can be called). The calls are bridged and recorded.

Digital quality for both legs of the call, easy and quick, cloud-based, keeps the call saved and available forever, free for the first 25 minutes. $0.04 per minute thereafter. Contact me at ted@calltrunk.com for more information.


Posted by:

nabieu alpha
16 Apr 2011

hi bob
how may i retrive deleted messages from my phone(any posibility).


Posted by:

dinadana
22 Apr 2011

As for me i'm using IMCapture for Skype recorder. Nice software. I have Win vista.
http://imcapture.com


Posted by:

EDITH
26 Jan 2012

I have a message on my answering machine from my son on the day before he passed away suddenly. How may I save this "forever"?


Posted by:

Eugene
12 Mar 2012

You may also want to try MX SkypeRecorder
http://skyperec.com/ which seems quite stable. Well, at least it never let me down unlike other apps. Hope it'll help.


Posted by:

Thierno
28 May 2012

I recorded some phone calls on my android using a recording app how do I get those recording to transfer in a playable mode on a cd


Posted by:

Gloria Huffman
18 Mar 2013

I bought the Olympus TP-7 Recording Device. It's like a single earbud on a wire that plugs into the microphone jack on a small tape recorder. Put the special microphone-equipped earbud in your ear, put your phone to your ear on top of the "earbud," press RECORD on your little tape recorder, and it just works! I think it cost me about $20-40 at Radio Shack.

If I want to transfer the recording to my PC (I have the free audio-editing program, Audacity), I run a different (stereo) cord from my tape recorder headphone jack into the "line in" jack on the back of my computer. Audacity's Help Manual explains how to choose the settings for recording this signal into Audacity. (This simple sound transfer method is also how you can record old cassette tapes into Audacity and convert them into MP3 files.)


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