Frustrations recording audio conference calls

For some time now I’ve been looking for the best way to record audio conference calls at work and share them as MP3. Here’s what I found but it’s still far from ideal.

One option is that conferencing systems often have a record feature. One downside is that you might have to pay for it. Also, if there’s one key speaker, such as a presentation, then you’d probably prefer to have the fidelity of a local microphone than suffer the audio limitations of a phone line.

So this is what I’ve been doing:

  • If you are the presenter, use a microphone, otherwise get a phone adaptor
  • A local microphone gives you better quality but you can’t then record other people on the phone.

    You could use a speaker phone but that’s not very good either. It’s often hard to listen to compared with a headset, other people may struggle to hear you and the phones usually mute the speaker when you’re talking, typing or humming tunelessly so others can’t interrupt.

    I have been known to stick the microphone in my headset earpiece but that picks up too much noise and your voice is muffled – depending on your ears!

    One tip for a microphone – place it carefully. Cheap lapel mics tend to pick up clothing noises and desk mics pick up vibration like typing.

    For a phone adaptor I use a ReTell 156 The problem with that device is that it’s not isolated so if you plug it into a mains powered recorder you get a loud buzzing due to earth loops.

    If that’s the case you’d need something with an isolator, eg: The ReTell 157 Telephone recording connector worked fine for me plugged into a Sun Blade 150. I ordered it from CPC.

  • A dedicated audio recorder (eg MiniDisc)
  • Most are battery powered so no need to buy the more expensive ReTell 157, the ReTell 156 is good enough.

  • Transfer to computer using Audacity
  • An alternative is to use Snd.

    You could run Audacity or Snd and record directly from the phone. If the software can’t save as MP3 then try LAME.

    Snd is very CPU intensive and I’ve not got it to work on a Sun Ray (though it should do).

  • Edit and then save as MP3
  • Audacity can save as MP3 using a LAME plugin.

I guess the main thing I’ve learnt is to use a dedicated audio recorder. All attempts to record directly on laptops, desktops or Sun Ray have been thwarted by technical hitches. In other words, keep it simple.

Leave a comment


  1. Yes that is correct. I liked your comment. I too belong to the same profile and this was of great help.
    Charles Mercer

  2. great blog!

  3. Peter,
    It’s been a while since you made this post, but there is another option. You can use a device similar to the one in the link below:
    and a small digital voice recorder.
    The device connects where the curly cord plugs into the phone, and the handset plugs into the other end. The device has a single line that feeds off of it into the digital voice recorder. It captures things quite well.


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