Audio is nothing more than a series of tubes

I was finally able to successfully record both sides of a Skypecast recently, and during the trials and tribulations of configuring the system, I came up with a way to do it without the wonderful in-ear echo that you sometimes get. The configuration only takes Audacity, Skype, three Virtual Audio Cables, and four Audio Repeaters. (I say only with a bit of sarcasm.) Here's a flow showing how this "series of tubes" gets plumbed: I'll try and explain in detail how this works in my next post. For now, think about the virtual audio cables as real audio cables on a stereo giving you places to "patch into" the audio feed.


Audio tubes...continued

Here's the steps that go along with the diagram:

  1. Configure Skype to input from your headset (what I use) and output to VAC (Virtual Audio Cable) 1.
  2. The first AR (audio repeater) connects VAC1 to VAC2 (this creates a "patch point" you'll use later)
  3. The second AR connects VAC2 to VAC3 (this creates a second "patch point" you'll also use later)
  4. Configure Audacity to record from VAC3
  5. Set AR3 to connect from VAC1 to your headset (this lets you hear Skype)
  6. Set AR4 to connect from your headset to VAC3 (this lets you record your voice)

With this configuration (it sounds worse than it really is) the audio captured by your headset is never sent back into your earphones so you don't get the delayed echo in your ears (which I find highly distracting).

Now the downsides.

  1. Whatever the rate, channels, and bits coming out of Skype are...that's what you have to use through the whole "circuit".  If Skype is playing at 48000mhz, one channel, 16 bits then everything has to run at that or it doesn't work.  (If someone knows how to change Skype's default I'd love to hear it.)
  2. I've only been able to get this to work in Mono recording, not stereo
  3. You need to start the "flow" at Skype and activate the devices from there down the line.
I've recorded Skype calls and Skypecasts this way and the audio quality seems to come through just fine.


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