How to record audio from a Google Hangout

Main part of my research project is to lead interviews with course instructors and students to find out about their needs and thoughts about the course page system. As I’m far away from everybody all of these talks are conducted remotely by video call. So I surfed the internet for a quick and easy solution to record these calls (audio only, because I’m afraid of big data), so I could transcribe them later. It took me a while, but I finally found a handy solution which worked fine with me and I want to share with you here. (in case you need it once) The challenge is to combine to input sources (the playback from the computer and the microphone, means your and your talk partners voice) into one record file.

I tried this on ubuntu 14.04 and all you need is a headset (for comfort basically). I used a tiny one from my phone and only on one ear. (I’ll come back to this later)

  • get Pavucontrol a free small tool to enhance your sound control options, make sure it is running
  • get Audacity a free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds
  • as very detailed described here on Audacity’s  Device Toolbar set the host to ALSA, and the output device to pulse. The input I just set to my sound card,
  • click on the recording meter (upper right) to turn monitoring on
  • in Pavucontrol choose the Recording tab and select the Monitor of Built in Analog Stereo
  • now you can perfectly record everything what is coming out of your speakers
  • to enable also to record your incoming voice, I used a little ‘trick’, I found here  – you have to loopback your microphone into the monitor
  • you have to load ALSA’s loopback-module. I did this by typing “pactl load-module module-loopback latency_msec=1” at the shell prompt.

This results in you hearing yourself in your headset as well (which needs some getting used to it), but for some reason I had my own voice only on one side, so I just took it of and used the other one The loopback-module change stays active until the next boot. At least I din’t find any option to deactivate it. From Audacity I exported the sound file into an mp3 file, quite small and easy to listen to on various players.

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1 comment
  1. A.Apte said:

    Thanks – nice instructions. The command to unload the module and stop the loopback is “pactl unload-module module-loopback” (so you do not have to a feedback until the next reboot).

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