Record calls on your computer with Audacity

While Audacity is a powerful free and open source audio recording and editing application, it has one major limitation: it allows only one audio input. Because Skype VoIP calls or Discord group chat calls require both input and output, Audacity cannot record both halves of the call.

You cannot record Skype calls directly in Audacity.

The solutions we’ve outlined assume you’re running Audacity 2.1 or later, Skype 8.4 or later, and Windows 10 version 1809 or later.

Record calls with Audacity

  1. Use a dedicated VoIP recorder to record audio, then paste the file into an Audacity project † Since version 8, Skype itself supports call recording, but only for Skype-to-Skype calls. Consider apps like Pamela to record your Skype conversations offline, then drop the file into Audacity for editing and mixing later.

    Older Skype Call Recorder apps are unlikely to work. In Skype 7, the core APIs (the technical foundation for working with data) have changed significantly. If an app claims to work on Windows 7 and Windows XP, it almost certainly won’t work on Windows 10 because the modern Skype APIs are so radically different.

  2. Use two computers † If a computer is handling a Skype call or Discord chat, connect that computer’s audio output to the audio input of another computer running Audacity. Many experienced podcasters or streamers use this approach. This requires a second computer and some special hardware (like a mixer or connection cables), but it’s a bulletproof solution if you can afford the gear.

  3. Loop audio monitoring † Since you can only specify one audio input connection in Audacity, you can set the app to allow the remote side (such as your caller or your friends in a group audio chat) or the local side (i.e. you using your microphone, Skype chat, or discount ). You can imitate both halves of a conversation in Audacity if you set the far end as the audio input and then in Windows settings change your microphone settings to control it. The sound quality will be terrible for your voice, but it will work in no time.

    In Audacity, change the MME setting in the toolbar to Windows WASAP and change the audio input to the loopback version for the speakers you use when calling Skype. On Windows, go to Institutions Sound and select the input device you are using for Skype. Click or tap Device properties and then on the next screen select Additional device properties † When the Microphone Properties dialog box opens, click the Listen and check the box Listen to this device † This setting echoes anything your microphone says to your speakers.

    The “listen to this device” approach will not give you good sound quality for your part of the Skype call.

  4. Get smart with speakers † If you have more than one audio input, configure Skype or Discord to use external speakers and, for example, a webcam microphone. Then set up Audacity to record with something like the Blue Yeti microphone, which captures the sound from your speakers and your own natural voice. This approach may not work for some people, and it can be difficult to determine the sound quality of Audacity, but for some people it just might work.

  5. Mix individual songs. Especially if you’re working on a finished end product, it can be valuable to let each participant in a Skype call recording have their own version, and then have one person use Audacity to merge those files into one clean version, which, as a bonus, doesn’t necessarily sound like a VoIP call.

Alternatives to recording with Audacity

The real problem lies in Audacity’s one-line writing logic. However, this issue is not unique to Audacity. The Windows platform uses the sound card to compile audio input and audio output. More advanced audio recording tools such as Adobe Audition will encounter the same problem in a Windows environment. However, Macs generally don’t have the same all-or-nothing audio control requirements built into the operating system.

Professionals using Windows usually opt for a dedicated external mixer so that all inputs and outputs are routed to a hardware device, and that device’s output can serve as a unified input to be fed into Audacity.

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