Between voice mail & answering machines, we have options to archive telephone conversations for business or personal reasons. That’s fine for messages on the fly or voice conversations we may need only for a limited period of time. For more sophisticated purposes and needs in recording and saving a telephone conversation, you’ll need additional equipment.
Perhaps you have an important project you require accurate details on later and paper notes won’t cut it or even email logging. Many journalists may record telephone interviews with their subjects. In any case, the ease of recording a phone conversation may be hampered by the equipment you have or your lack of knowledge on just how to record or later access it. Also using digital audio files like WAVs or MP3’s are much easier to manipulate than an audiotape. They’re easier to archive and harder to misplace.
With a removable telephone pickup, you can easily record a phone call onto an audiotape, a digital recording device or your home desktop PC or laptop. For this article, I’ll give pointers on how to effectively record and archive phone calls on a PC by using a telephone pickup available at most electronic stores or department stores like Walmart or Target.
I use a removable telephone pickup from RadioShack. It retails for about $4.99 and is as simple as unpacking, plugging the suction cup like pickup onto your phone and plugging the jack into your computer. The part number on the package of mine was 44-533.
Windows PC’s comes with several applications that while are basic programs with little frills, work well with a removable telephone pickup and allows you to record large sound files. The small program Sound Recorder found in Windows under Accessories and Entertainment is a bare bones audio recording application. It records about twenty minutes. This works fine and may be usable for most normal situations. For anything longer, I’d recommend Windows Movie Maker or an easily downloaded public domain program called Audacity.
Both Windows Movie Maker and Audacity can accommodate huge sound files – as much as you really need depending on your hard drive’s capacity.
Windows Movie Maker & Audacity
Windows Move Maker is the basic digital video editing software on Windows, but it’s also great at audio recording. Click on the Timeline Icon in the edit window, and then click the Microphone Icon for Record Narration. The recording will start with a pop-up window and after you’re finished you can save the file to any directory.
Audacity does lots more than just record from an external microphone or phone pickup. Once used to record a file, you can change pitch, tempo or even clean up the file for external noise or hiss.
Important Legal Reminder: Each state varies in terms of its laws regarding recording telephone conversations. Always check on the legal stuff and be aware of this, as you make it clear to your phone party that you’re recording the call, to make it safe for all involved.