How can I record system audio?

Recording audio playing on your computer, often called system audio, can be useful for many reasons. It allows you to capture audio from applications, web browsers, games, and other sources on your computer. Users may want to record system audio for tutorials, game streaming, podcasts, music sampling, and other creative pursuits. The main methods covered in this article are using desktop apps on Windows, Mac, Linux, as well as mobile apps on Android and iOS devices. We’ll explore the capabilities, advantages, and limitations of each platform for recording system audio.


Windows provides several options for recording system audio, including built-in apps and third-party software:

The Sound Recorder app comes pre-installed on Windows and allows you to record audio from your microphone or system audio directly.[1] To enable system audio recording in Sound Recorder, go to Settings > Properties and check the box for “Record streaming audio”. You can then select System Sound as the audio source when recording.

Audacity is a popular free open source audio editing software for Windows, Mac and Linux. To record system audio with Audacity, you’ll need to install the Windows WASAPI audio driver. Once enabled in Preferences, you can select “Windows WASAPI” as the recording device to capture audio from your system.[2]

OBS Studio is a free and open source app for video recording and live streaming. The Audio Output Capture feature allows you to record all system audio playing on your PC.[3] Simply add an Audio Output Capture source to your scene and start recording.

Voicemeeter is an advanced virtual audio mixer for Windows that lets you manage and record your system audio. In Voicemeeter’s Recording section, you can set your system sound as the recording input.[4] This will allow any applications played on your PC to be captured.


Recording System Audio on Mac

There are several programs you can use to record system audio on Mac computers:

QuickTime – QuickTime Player is built into Mac OS and provides a simple way to record audio. To record system audio, go to File > New Audio Recording and click the dropdown arrow next to the record button to select the audio input as “Built-in Input” to capture all system audio.

Audacity – This free open source audio editor has the ability to record computer playback audio. You’ll need to install a virtual audio cable like Soundflower or BlackHole to route system audio into Audacity. Instructions can be found here:

OBS Studio – The open source streaming program OBS Studio can capture desktop audio and mic input. Add an Audio Input Capture source in OBS and select “Desktop Audio” to record any sounds playing on your Mac.

Rogue Amoeba Audio Hijack – This paid Mac app allows you to capture any audio from applications, microphones, webstreams and more. You can record system audio by creating a session in Audio Hijack and selecting the desired audio input source.


On Linux, there are a few different options for recording system audio:

Audacity is a popular open source audio editor that allows recording computer playback audio. You’ll need to change some settings in Audacity to enable recording system audio.

OBS Studio is a free screen recorder and live streaming program that can capture desktop audio. Just set the Audio Input Capture to “Desktop Audio.”

The PulseAudio sound server has a module called “module-loopback” that can capture audio played on the system.


Android devices have some built-in options as well as third party apps that allow recording system audio. The native screen recorder on many Android devices like Samsung and Pixel phones can capture internal audio when enabling the setting in the advanced options (cite:

Third party apps like AZ Screen Recorder (cite: and Mobizen (cite: also allow recording internal audio along with screen capture. These apps require enabling permissions and settings to access the audio from other apps during recording.

It’s important to be aware of any legal or privacy implications when capturing audio without consent. But overall these tools make it straightforward to record a device’s system audio for tutorials, gameplay videos, audio notes, and more on Android phones.


On iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, there are a few options for recording internal system audio:

The Voice Memos app comes pre-installed on iOS and allows you to easily record audio through the device’s microphone. While Voice Memos can’t directly record internal system audio, you can record audio playing on your device by placing the iOS device next to the audio source.

Shou is a third-party app that lets you record your screen, including internal audio, without video. It does this by connecting your iPhone or iPad to your computer and using QuickTime to capture the audio stream.

Another option is AirShou, which can record system audio and screen activity over Wi-Fi. However, AirShou requires jailbreaking your iOS device.

In summary, while iOS doesn’t allow directly recording internal audio, apps like Voice Memos, Shou, and AirShou provide workarounds using the microphone, QuickTime, or jailbreaking to capture system audio.

Legal Considerations

There are several legal issues to keep in mind when recording system audio.

Copyright laws may apply to any audio recordings you make, especially recordings of copyrighted music or other media. You typically need permission from the copyright holder to reproduce or distribute their content. There are some exceptions, like fair use, but in general you should avoid unauthorized recording and distribution of copyrighted audio. [1]

Distributing audio recordings without proper permissions can open you up to legal liability. Many states require consent from all parties being recorded, even if you made the recording legally. Federal wiretapping laws also restrict recording and disseminating private conversations without consent. Only share recordings publicly if you have express permission from everyone involved. [2]

In summary, be cautious about recording and distributing any audio without first determining if you have the proper legal permissions to do so. Copyright infringement and invasion of privacy are serious concerns. Consult a lawyer if you are unsure of the laws.

Quality and Formats

When recording system audio, it’s important to consider the quality and format. Higher quality audio files take up more storage space but preserve more detail. Lossless formats like WAV and FLAC preserve all the original data, while lossy formats like MP3 and AAC compress the audio by permanently removing certain information.

For the best quality when recording system audio, using an uncompressed or lossless format like WAV is recommended. WAV files have become a standard for audio recording across platforms and devices. Common settings for WAV files are 16-bit or 24-bit resolution at a 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz sample rate. This provides high quality while keeping file sizes manageable.

MP3 and AAC are popular for their smaller sizes, but some audio quality is sacrificed through compression. If using a lossy format, aim for a bitrate of at least 192 kbps. Lower bitrates can introduce audible artifacts or distortion.

The optimal format will depend on your specific needs. For professional or archival use, lossless WAV files are best. But for sharing online or casual listening, a compressed format may be sufficient.


There are several common use cases for recording internal audio on a computer or mobile device:

Gaming commentary: Recording internal audio allows gamers to capture game sounds and overlay their own commentary when making videos. This is essential for producing “let’s play” videos or streaming games online.

Music sampling: Music producers often sample audio from existing songs or other sources. Recording computer audio provides a way to easily capture samples to use in new compositions.

Podcasting: Many podcasters record their shows directly on a computer. Capturing internal audio allows them to record their voices, sound effects, and intro/outro music.

Troubleshooting: Recording audio can assist in troubleshooting issues. For example, capturing audio might help diagnose problems like static, echo, or popping sounds.


In this article, we discussed the main methods for recording system audio on various platforms. On Windows, options include specialized software like Audacity as well as built-in Windows tools. On Mac, QuickTime Player and third-party software provide audio capturing capabilities. Linux users can leverage utilities like PulseAudio to route audio for recording. Mobile platforms like Android and iOS also have screen recording apps that can capture internal audio.

A few key legal considerations around audio recording include consent, privacy, and copyright laws. The quality and format of audio recordings can vary greatly depending on the method used and settings configured. Common uses for recording system audio include capturing streaming music, game sounds, microphone input, and other internal audio for tutorials, game streaming, and more.

For those looking to explore system audio recording further, additional software tools and tutorials can provide more detailed guidance for specific platforms and use cases.

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