Need a little help with a Skype recording hack.

Audacity 2.1.2, installed from .exe
Windows 8.1


I’ve used Audacity for many years and absolutely love it! Thank you to the developers.

I recorded Skype conference calls for years with no problem using MP3 Skype Recorder 3.xx.
4.xx is a total disaster; I won’t go into its many faults.

I’ve tried many third party apps. They are all echoey or crackly when used for Skype conference calls.

The hack I’ve come up with is simple and seems to work very well. I use the built-in Windows Sound Recorder (yes, very primitive) for my side of the conversation, and Audacity - Stereo Mix for the incoming side of the conversation from Skype.

So…please pardon the long intro - it’s for anyone else doing the same thing.
Here is my question:
The volume at which Audacity records the incoming stereo mix corresponds directly to the volume at which I set my laptop speakers.
Is there a way to independently set the volume at which Audacity records the stereo mix (ideally just short of clipping), therefore giving me the freedom of adjusting the speaker volume to a level that is suitably comfortable for me during the live Skype?

Thanks for any and all help or suggestions.

I’ve tried many third party apps.

Many free ones?

You got lucky. Audacity will typically refuse to work with a second sound program running at the same time. You have two. That makes you a unicorn like Chase who used to run the Reel-Life podcast on one PC with Audacity, Skype and no other special considerations. He’s looking at the rest of us wondering that the fuss is all about. He is a unicorn. Nobody else can do that.

I do this with a stand-alone sound system and its own volume control. When I get a call or there’s somebody at the door, I reach over to that big black knob instead of trying to hit the right keyboard keys multiple times or mousing to the [- speaker] icon.

I do the whole podcast/Skype thing with two computers and a mixer.

That’s how the big kids do it, too. You’re pretty much stuck with that if you expand. My headphone volume is on the mixer.

We recommend Pamela paid software. Pamela “knows” about Skype and will record high quality stereo WAV files with you on one side and the far side on the other, suitable for editing, filtering and post production in Audacity.

There are other products too (in case you missed some).

To bring this around, no I don’t think there is a way to adjust that now that you have all the sound pathways tied up. That’s one of the shortcomings of Stereo-Mix. You might find something in our tutorials for internet recording.


Thanks for the quick and informative response, Koz.

I’ve never been called a unicorn before, so I think I’ll go graze on some clover under a rainbow filled sky for a while and exult in being unique.

I have tried many free apps and also the fully functional (but time limited) trial versions of commercial apps. Here’s what Pamela very politely answered me when I asked for assistance:

We are aware of some trouble with the connection between Pamela and the Skype audio ports.

Normally all is working fine (which causes more then 99,9% of our customers). In some special cases windows does not report the skype audio ports to Pamela which ends in this error message.
Sometimes a complete restart of the machine fix this issue and for some customers a reinstall of Skype and Pamela helps.
Please note that this issue often occurs after a Windows or Skype update.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to support you because this issue is related between Windows and Skype.

So I guess that means the I’m in the .1% for which Pamela doesn’t work, and the .1% for which Audacity will tolerate 2 audio programs running simultaneously. So it seems being a unicorn is a two-edged sword.

Thanks again - I’ll continue with my hack for now.

I guess that means the I’m in the .1% for which Pamela doesn’t work

That’s one in a row. The only other Pamela failure turned out to be somebody using their computer wrong.

Did you build your computer?

It’s scary that Pamela is washing their hands of the Windows update. I don’t believe for a second they think it’s a Skype problem.

I think I’ll go graze on some clover under a rainbow filled sky

Watch your head, 'K?


Ha, yes, I’ll watch my head.

The computer is an off the shelf, HP Envy. I truly didn’t realize that running Windows Sound Recorder, Audacity and Skype simultaneously constituted a minor miracle. But for whatever reason, they all play well together.

You can use Windows WASAPI (loopback) which usually records at a fixed level regardless of the level of the sound being played - see the link Koz gave. But that fixed level is usually only about 0.5 or -6 dB maximum. It is high enough to amplify afterwards without adding surface noise.


minor miracle

Firmly qualifying you for unicorn status. The down side of that is standard tools and software fail.


Gale, thank you. What I’m finding is that with the speaker volume set low and Audacity barely even showing a recording at all, the file still responds beautifully to being amplified. I can max out the amplification without creating distortion. So that tends to render my original question moot. Audacity is truly amazing.

Koz, if I am called by someone on Skype, and the call remains one-on-one, all the various freeware and commercial recorders make an excellent recording. But if I add someone to the Skype call, the recorders all get echoey from that point on. It’s very hard to test and troubleshoot because I need at least 2 other parties, preferably 3, to join me on Skype to test. And that’s not easy to arrange with the whole world out playing Pokemon Go.

So for now, my hack works, but I will continue to try other apps.

Thanks for the information.

There is a way out of this. After struggling with this for ages, we generated a stand-alone computer whose sole job was to be a silent subscriber to the conference. No microphone, but it recorded the far side, basically everything, perfectly.

We couldn’t do it on one machine, either.

That’s a cousin to my two-machine podcast. You let one machine manage Skype. Full stop.

That’s how The Pando Podcast does it.

I’m pretty sure that’s how The Morning Stream does it.


We did have one poster who went into the Dreaded Windows Registry and made changes there that allowed him to record the right things at the right times.

You can do that if you want. I’ll watch.


Sorry to budge in like this, but is this a Windows thing, or a Skype thing?

Audacity is running as a second audio program all the time, since it’s the external editor for a DAW in my setup. And I sometimes have a third audio program open too. Never had a problem with that. Mind you I never record with two programs simultaneously. I do play from several programs, usually not at the same time.

Nor are you messing with Skype trying as best it can to take over the computer. Skype didn’t become the top conferencing/communications program on earth by sitting quietly in the corner and drinking its tea. Skype is actively aggressive about maintaining it’s channels and sound management.

That’s why Pamela throwing up its hands at the current state of Skype/Windows was so not good news.


That is a fascinating idea. My bandwidth is low (yet another problem), but maybe someone in my group can do this.


My test podcast suffered from Bandwidth, too. My down is not spectacular, but OK. My up is awful, so the far side (irrelevant for the quality of the show) complained about distortion.