Have you ever wanted to record the audio that your soundcard is outputting, whatever it is? Maybe you’ve Googled the name of a song, and noticed that there are tons of sites (like iLike, Rhapsody, etc.) that show up in the top of the Google searches and let you play the entire song in high-quality, for free, right there in a pop-up window. Of course, the next time you listen to the song, it will only be a 30-second demo (although this can be worked around by simply clearing your web browser’s cache – boom, you can listen to the whole song again). Well, if you simply record what your sound card is outputting, you can record that song that is playing into an MP3 file and save it on your PC. Cool, huh? And then you can go to iTunes or eBay and actually purchase the album because you like the song so much (hint, hint). I’m not trying to support illegal music downloading or anything – but this is a cool trick that has tons of uses.
Use the “Sound Recorder” in Microsoft Windows
Step #1: Click on the “Start” button, go to “Control Panel” >> “Hardware and Sound” (or something similar, depending on if you have XP, Vista, Windows 7, etc.), and then click on “Sound.”
Step #2: You should see a tab at the top that says “Recording.” Click on that and you’ll find a list of recording devices you can use. Look for “What U Hear” (if you are using a Creative soundcard) or something like “Mixer Output” (depending on your audio device). Unfortunately not all audio devices support this. If your does not, try using Method #3.
Step #3: Click the “Set Default” button after highlighting “What U Hear.”
Step #4: Click “Properties,” click the “Levels” tab, move the volume slider to the right to increase the recording volume, and then click OK.
Step #5: In the Sound dialog box, click OK.
Step #6: Go to Start >> All Programs >> Accessories >> Sound Recorder
Step #7: To record the audio, click Start Recording.
Step #8: On the audio or video source (website, etc.), press Play to begin playing the audio that you want to record.
Step #9: When you want to stop recording audio, click Stop Recording, and then press Stop on the device.
Step#10: Enter a file name for the recorded audio file, and then click Save.
Use an audio editor to record your soundcard’s output
Step #1: Get an audio editor like GoldWave (their site may look pretty unprofessional, but it’s a great piece of software for the price. It’s got all the main editing features of a more expensive audio editor, like Adobe’s SoundBooth).
Step #2: Launch GoldWave, and prepare your source material for recording.
Step #3: In GoldWave, go to “File” > “New” and set up your audio settings for your recording. The default should be fine, except that you want to change the recording length to something huge, like 2 hours. Don’t worry, later you’ll crop it down to be just the length of the audio that you recorded.
Step #4: Go to “Options” > “Control Properties” and change your “Record Device” under “Device” to be either “What U Hear” (if you are using a Creative soundcard) or something like “Mixer Output” (depending on your audio device). Unfortunately not all audio devices support this. If your does not, try using Method #3.
Step #5: Hit the record button – the red circle.
Step #6: Start playing the audio you want to record – be sure not to interrupt it or make other noises with your computer (such as clicking on folders in Explorer).
Step #7: After the audio has finished playing, hit the stop button (the red square). Now hit the “Trim” button. This will reduce the file to only contain the audio that was recorded. Now go to “File” > “Save As…” and save your file as whatever file type you want (I suggest at least a 256kbps MP3 or WMA – but that’s up to you).
If you want to get more creative, you could crop out pieces of the audio that you don’t want, or you could add fade-in’s and fade-out’s along with other pieces of audio. Try looking around in the Help file for GoldWave to figure all of this out – it’s not hard at all.
Use software made specifically for recording whatever audio your computer is outputting, even without a dedicated soundcard
I prefer using an editor like GoldWave, simply because it offers more control and quality. However, there is software that is made just to record whatever your computer is outputting – even without a dedicated soundcard (like a Creative one). If you only have your onboard motherboard audio to work with, then you probably won’t have the “What U Hear” option, so you may have to try using something like this:
I can’t guarantee this software will work for your setup, but if you can’t GoldWave or some other audio editor to record your soundcard’s output, then something like this is your best bet.
There you go, you can hopefully record your computer’s audio output now… Have fun!