How to Record Computer Audio

Man recording audio on his computer

Whether you’re making a podcast, filming a video, or producing virtually any type of digital media, audio is usually an important element. While it’s pretty obvious that you use a microphone to record external sounds, how exactly are you supposed to record internal computer audio?

You’ve got a lot of options. You can record system audio with built-in computer recording apps like Quicktime for macOS and Stereo Mix in Windows. If you’d rather record computer audio in the same app you’ll use to edit it, you can use Descript.

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

Why record computer audio with Descript?

Whether you want to record the audio from a Zoom meeting or capture sound from a video playing in your browser (with permission, of course), Descript is the perfect tool for recording system audio. Unlike conventional audio software that records sound from computers, Descript uses automatic transcription that lets you edit your recording by simply editing a text document. Descript is also full of AI tools like Studio Sound, which removes echo and other unwanted background noise while enhancing the speaker’s voice to make it sound like you recorded in a professional studio.

There are two ways you can record desktop audio using Descript:

  • Audio-only recording. This option allows you to record internal system sound by itself without any video. For instance, you could use this feature to record sound from a Livestream or make a backup recording of an online interview.
  • Screen recording. Descript’s screen recorder allows you to record desktop audio and video at the same time. Screen recording is useful for a slew of tasks, from making instructional software demos to showing off your PC gaming skills. You can learn how to use Descript’s screen recorder here. Pro tip: you don’t need Descript if you want to screen record on an iOS or Android device since both phone operating systems have built-in screen recording functions.

How to record computer audio with Descript

If you’re on a Mac computer, Descript is all you need to record computer audio — you won’t need to download a single additional extension or program. Before following the below steps, know that some third-party apps (like Zoom) do require you to change the app’s audio output settings to “Descript Loopback Audio” after you’ve already begun recording in Descript.

If you need to know how to record internal audio on PCs using Descript, you’ll need to download a few extra things. You can get instructions in our PC tutorial here. For Mac users, here’s a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Create a new project. After you open Descript, click the blue “New” button in the top right corner and select “Project” from the drop-down menu. Type in a name for your project and click “Create Project.”
  2. Change the input device to “Computer Audio.” Next, select the microphone-shaped “Record Audio” button at the top of Descript’s sound capture window. Click the text box that says “Track 1” to bring up a drop-down menu that defaults to your computer’s microphone. Click that drop-down menu and select the “Computer Audio” option. For speech recordings, you can also check the box next to “Studio Sound” to eliminate ambient noise and give the recording a professional studio-quality sound.
  3. Add additional recording devices, if needed. If you want to simultaneously record audio from a second input device (like a microphone), click the “Recording Settings” button shaped like a wheel and select your desired device. Then click the plus sign (“+”) to the left of the red “Record” button and select your device’s input channel.
  4. Pause system notifications. If you want to ensure system sounds such as Slack and email notifications don’t ruin your recording, turn on your computer’s Do Not Disturb mode by going to “Apple Menu” > “System Preferences” > “Notifications” > “Do Not Disturb.”
  5. Start your recording. Click the red “Record” button to begin the recording. Descript will automatically transcribe any speech in the audio as it records. Once you’re ready to stop recording, click the “Stop” button.

How to record computer audio with built-in tools

Both Macs and PCs come with built-in tools that are potential options for recording internal computer audio. However, you must download additional extensions or software for these tools to do the trick. On top of that, they’re quite limited in their editing capabilities. We primarily recommend these options for the most basic computer audio recording needs.

How to record audio on a Mac using Quicktime and Soundflower

Modern Mac computers all come pre-loaded with the QuickTime Player app, which can record system audio with a little help from a free extension called Soundflower. Soundflower is a virtual audio device that allows you to route computer audio from one app to another. Here’s the lowdown on recording computer audio using Quicktime and Soundflower:

  1. Download Soundflower. Go to Soundflower’s website, download the extension, and install it on your Mac.
  2. Change your audio output. On your computer’s top menu bar, click the “Sound” icon that resembles a speaker. You’ll see a list of “Output Devices” where you can select “Soundflower (2ch).” If you don’t see the “Sound” icon on your menu bar, then instead go to “Apple Menu” > “System Preferences” > “Sound” and select “Soundflower (2ch)” from there.
  3. Open QuickTime Player. Go to “File” > “New Audio Recording.”
  4. Change recording source to Soundflower. Click the down arrow to the right of the red record button to reveal a menu of microphone sources. Select “Soundflower (2ch).” Now QuickTime will capture your computer’s internal audio instead of recording from your computer’s external microphone.
  5. Start recording. Click the red record button to begin recording. Once you’re ready to stop recording, click the black “Stop” button and go to “File” > “Save As” to save the audio file to your desired folder.

How to record PC audio using Stereo Mix and Audacity

Windows computers come with a pre-loaded app called Windows voice recorder, but it will only record sound from your external microphone. However, Windows PCs do have a feature called Stereo Mix that will let you record internal audio with the help of a third-party program like Audacity.

  1. Enable Stereo Mix. Stereo Mix typically comes disabled by default. To enable it, head to the bottom left of your screen to click on the “Search” icon to the right of the start menu and type “Control Panel” into the search box. From the control panel, select “Hardware and Sound” > “Sound” > “Recording.” Under the “Recording” tab, you’ll see a list of devices with one disabled device called “Stereo Mix.” Right-click it and select “Enable.” Click “OK” to save your changes.
  2. Download Audacity. Go to Audacity’s website, download the program, and install it on your PC.
  3. Set Audacity to record from Stereo Mix. Open Audacity and look for the “Audio Host” dropdown bar to the left of the microphone button. Select “Windows WASAPI” as your audio host. Next, go to the “Recording Device” dropdown bar to the right of the microphone button and select “Stereo Mix” as your recording source.
  4. Start recording. Click the red record button to begin recording. Once you’re ready to stop recording, click the black “Stop” button and then save the audio file to your desired folder.

Final thoughts

Now that you know how to record internal computer audio, there’s virtually no limit in the ways you can use audio in your personal or professional projects. You can start small by simply recording audio from your own virtual meetings and presentations. From there, you can get creative. With literally every sound on the internet now at your fingertips, the possibilities are endless.

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