As a lecturer, I see much value in holding interactive discussions. To achieve this in my (planned) Podcasts I would like to record Skype conversations. This is not a trivial DIY task as Skype is designed to keep the input and output separate to prevent feedback. Many people resort to using two computers. My objective was to find a way to do this with one computer: my MacBook Pro. In addition, being an open source buff, I did not want to pay for the solution (after all, I need to find a method to recommend to my spend thrifty students).

There does appear to be some free options to record Skype conversations for Linux (Skype-rec – works well) and Windows XP (Skype Call Recorder – not tested yet) but I was not able to find a free option for the Mac that suited my needs.

Unfortunately, the free option that I could find for the Mac resulted in my own voice being fed back through my headphones with a 1/2 second delay. This option did get me a long way towards my target by using two free applications: SoundFlower and LineIn. However, I found the prospect of facilitating a discussion with my own voice booming back at me rather disturbing (yet nostalgic of long distance calls in the 80’s). After failing with each of the solutions suggested by the article to reduce feedback I decided to find an alternative way.

The solution I found is similar to the one I found in the article and uses the same software. However, my method involves an additional stage and requires multiple instances of LineIn. If you want to try it, I strongly suggest that you first attempt the method that I found in the article (and install Soundflower and LineIn). If the method in the article works for you, cool. However, if you have the same echo problem that I experienced, and you don’t find your own voice stunningly attractive when parrot’ing back at you, perhaps have a go at the following solution:

Step 1: Set up Skype audio. You need to send the sound that Skype makes to a separate channel so that it can be forwarded on to two places 1) your headphone set; and 2) a channel being monitored and recorded by your recording software (I use Audacity, many use GarageBand). To achieve this pipe the output of Skype to “soundflower 16ch” for further routing by multiple instances of “LineIn.app”.

sr-skype-settings

The next few steps will use multiple instances of LineApp.app. Multiple instances can be created by typing the following in a terminal:

open -n /Applications/LineIn.app
(create 3 instances. note: they may appear directly on top of each other)

Step 2 (Set up LineIn.app instance no. 1): Route “soundflower 16ch” to your headphones so that you can hear the other person talking.

rs-linein1

Step 3 (Set up LineIn.app instance no. 2): Route “soundflower 16ch” to “soundflower 2ch” for mixing with your own voice and for monitoring (and recording) by Audacity.

rs-linein2

Step 4 (Set up LineIn.app instance no. 3): Route your microphone to “soundflower 2ch” for mixing with the sound that Skype makes. Both your voice and the voice of the other person are now mixed to “soundflower 2ch”

rs-linein3

Step 5 (Set up your audio recording software): Set your recorder (Audacity / GarageBand etc.) to listen to “soundflower 2ch” and to output to your main speakers. Make sure that the ‘Pass Thru’ Button in each LineIn is checked and disable “pass through” options in your sound recorder.

You should now be able to record both sides of a Skype recording without hearing your own voice in your headphones. Make sure that you mute your main speakers when recording (or monitor the line out with a seperate set of headphones).

By the way, if you use Skype a lot, I strongly recommend that you obtain and use a USB headset as voice quality is much improved if the Anologue to Digital conversion is done outside of the pc (away from the noisey motherboard circuitry). I use a Plantronics headset but I am thinking of buying a professional microphone.

Finally, but importantly, please do not record conversations over Skype without all participants being aware that they are being recorded. Also, you should advise the participants of precisely how you intend to use the recording. Be ethical and keep within the law.

Hope this helps!

~Jason

 

4 Responses to Recording skype on your Mac, free of charge

  1. Jason,

    Another alternative (albeit not a free one) is to use Wiretap Studio.

    (I picked it up recently as part of the MacHeist3 bundle. Perhaps it might turn up as a special from the MacUpdate daily promo at some stage?)

  2. jason says:

    Hi Kyle, Wiretap Studio does look awesome – very flexible. Thanks for the input. ~Jason

  3. I have been looking looking around for this kind of information. Will you post some more in future? I’ll be grateful if you will.

  4. jason says:

    Did this work well for you? Happy to post other things, what do you have in mind? ~ Jason