How to Record Telephone Conversations Using Your Computer
Table of Contents:
  1. Telephone Recording Cable
  2. Buying and Configuring Recording Software
  3. One- and Two-Party Telephone Recording Laws
  4. Telephone Recording Setup Procedure
  5. Dedicated Telephone Recording Equipment
Freedom advocates who are interacting with the government frequently find government servants they talk to to be unfriendly, uncooperative, and inclined to attempt to exercise authority that neither the law nor their delegation of authority order confer upon them.  To protect ourselves from such abuses, it is prudent to record all telephone conversations we might have with such criminal government servants.  This article will describe in detail the tools and techniques for recording telephone conversations using your computer.  The resulting recording takes the form of an MP3 file, which you can play on your computer or any portable MP3 player.

1.  Telephone Recording Cable

Radio Shack makes an inexpensive telephone Recorder Control, Catalog Number 43-1237.  This cable hooks in series with your telephone and has an audio output connector that hooks up to the Microphone Jack on your computer.  You will first need to buy this cable.

2.  Buying and Configuring Recording Software

In writing this article, we surveyed and tested at least ten different sound recording computer programs.  There are many ugly and ineffective products out there.  Far and away the best, most capable, cheapest, and easiest to use program we tested is one called Audio Recorder Pro from  EZ SoftMagic available at:

Below is a screen shot of the program so you can see what it looks like:

Telephone Recording

This program has a simple interface, costs only $29.95, and will produce MP3, WAV, and OGG files.  It can record from any audio source that your computer has, including the following:

  1. Telephone Modem
  2. Microphone Jack
  3. Aux In jack
  4. Line In jack
  5. Wave generator
  6. CD audio
  7. DVD video
  8. Television card (if you have an ATI All-InWonder Radeon TV Tuner video card, for instance)
  9. Internet Radio
  10. Real Audio (RM files)
  11. Microsoft Media Player or Real Media Player web listening.

The program also has some other very handy features that we are sure you will like:

  1. Runs in the system tray so it is always ready to record at a moment's notice if you are using the telephone, for instance.
  2. Has a "Mini mode", so that it uses a minimum amount of screen space when active.
  3. Has an "Auto Record" mode that acts like a "vox", whereby silence is removed from the recording to reduce file size.  You can set the audio threshold that will trigger resumption of recording.  This allows you to automatically record a whole day's worth of phone calls with a very small file size.
  4. Records in several formats, including MP3, WAV, and OGG.
  5. Converts between all the different audio formats it supports.  This can be very useful if you want to compress an audio file for internet downloading while minimizing the loss of quality inherent in the conversion process.

You will need to buy and install program.  It has a registration key that allows you to try it for free before you buy it.  Old registration numbers work with later versions of the program as well.  VERY GOOD!

3.  One- and Two-Party Telephone Recording Law

Laws relating to the permissibility of telephone recording vary from state to state.  If you are calling someone within your own state, the law of your state prevails.  When you call someone in another state, federal law prevails.  Laws on telephone recording are classified using one of two names as follows:

  1. Two-party state: both parties must be informed of the existence of recording and give their explicit consent.
  2. One-party state: only one party to the two-way conversation needs to be aware that recording is being done and needs to give his or her consent.
WARNING:  In One-Party states, it is considered a crime to record a telephone conversation if the other party is not informed in advance and does not explicitly consent to the recording.  It is therefore very important that you know the law BEFORE you attempt to record, and especially before you attempt to get your tape recordings admitted into evidence in a legal proceeding.

Below is a listing of the classification of telephone recording laws, by state.  Because these laws change frequently, you might want to double-check yourself.  If you find error in the table below or would like to add "Applicable Statutes" that you have verified yourself, please send us an email revealing the results of your research so we can add it to the table:

State Type Applicable Statute(s)
Alabama One Party  
Alaska One Party  
Arizona One Party  
Arkansas One Party  
California Two Party  
Colorado One Party  
Connecticut Two Party
Delaware Two Party  
District of Columbia One Party  
Florida Two Party  
Georgia One Party  
Hawaii One Party  
Idaho One Party  
Illinois One Party  
Indiana One Party  
Iowa One Party  
Kansas One Party  
Kentucky One Party  
Louisiana One Party  
Maine One Party  
Massachusetts Two Party  
Maryland Two Party  
Michigan One Party  
Minnesota One Party  
Mississippi One Party  
Missouri One Party  
Montana Two Party  
Nebraska One Party  
Nevada One Party  
New Hampshire Two Party  
New Jersey One Party  
New Mexico One Party  
New York One Party  
North Carolina One Party  
Oklahoma One Party  
Oregon One Party  
Ohio One Party  
Pennsylvania Two Party  
Rhode Island One Party  
South Carolina One Party  
South Dakota One Party  
Tennessee One Party  
Texas One Party  
Utah One Party  
Vermont One Party  
Virginia One Party  
West Virginia One Party  
Washington Two Party  
Wisconsin One Party  
Wyoming One Party  

Below is a helpful link that goes further into state law on telephone recording:

4.  Telephone Recording Setup Procedure

Once you have purchased the Radio Shack Recorder Control and the Audio Recorder Pro software, you are ready to do your system setup.  Below is the step-by-step procedure:

  1. Buy and install the Audio Recorder Pro software
  2. Connect the Radio Shack Recorder Control in series with your telephone and connect the audio connector to the Microphone jack input on your computer.
  3. Put the switch on the Radio Shack Recorder Control in the "Record Position"
  4. Start up and configure the Audio Recorder Pro software.
    • Select the "Stereo Mixer" or "Microphone" as the "Source" for audio input.
    • Check the "Preview" check box
    • Select "MP3" for the "Format" control.
    • Configure the destination folder so that the program saves to the location you want.
    • Pick up your phone and use the "Recording Control" to adjust the input level so the "Status" indicator bars to not go in the red too often but are as high as you can make them.  WARNING:  If you set the record level too high, the audio will distort.
    • Click the "Start Record" button on the program and talk on the phone.  Call someone and try it out.
    • Click the stop button.  The program will ask you if you want to Play the recording. 
    • Play the recording, and the Microsoft Media Player will start and play the MP3 recording you just made.  Ensure the quality is good and the volume level is high.  If not, go back and readjust the "Recording Control" to maximize the volume.
  5. Put a shortcut icon for the Audio Recorder Pro program on your Windows Start bar, so that you can start the program quickly if someone calls by simply clicking on the icon.
  6. You are now ready to quickly respond to any call and record it as follows:
    • Click on the Audio Recorder Pro on your start bar.
    • Double-check that the "Source" is still set to the "Stereo Mixer" or "Microphone"
    • Click on the "Start Record Button"

5. Dedicated Telephone Recording Equipment

If you do not have a computer, or do not want to buy one or learn how to use it, there are a number of products dedicated exclusively to telephone recording.  Below is just a short list of products we found, and there are many more if you search the internet: