Phone recording volume too low

Hi Everyone,

I found some posts on phone recordings but they didn’t quite answer my question.

I’m a marketing consultant and I record my client meetings. The recordings document the meetings and make it less necessary to be furiously scribbling notes. In addition, I sometimes to do interviews for podcasts and articles and use recordings for those.

Old fashion land line phone with handset
VEC model TRX-20 adaptor (bought originally to link phone with an Olympus DS-330 digital recorder, now just plug the microphone jack into the computer’s microphone input)
Note: I’d way prefer to use my wireless phone or cell phone if possible
Lenovo X61 notebook computer
Sound card, SoundMAX Integrated HD audio card

Audacity 1.2.6
Windows Vista Business

Problem with this set up is when I’m speaking, the playback quality is great: nice and clear. But when the person on the other end is speaking I can barely hear them.

I’m hoping one of you knows how to fix this. I’m ok with upgrading my hardware if necessary.

I really appreciate any help you all can provide.


Judy Murdoch
Highly Contagious Marketing

You want it to sound like Dr. Laura when a guest calls in, right? Both sides loud and clear and perfectly coordinated?.

That’s not cheap. She’s using a telephone hybrid or Phone Tap back at the studio and doing the individual volume controls in a mixing console with an engineer. The cheap fixes from Radio Shack all assume you don’t need to record both sides at the same time. Invariably, you’re too loud. No surprise there.

Broadcast digital versions of this equipment can go into the thousand$.

This will give you the buzz words to start the search:

You’re not the first person to ask this. Are you sure you did a search of the forum? Search “hybrid” and " telephone." We came up with a way to conference a digital telephone to simulate this process. If your budget is limited to $00.00, then set up a borrowed microphone in the middle of the conference room table and adjust position for volume. If you were on a Mac, you could do it with the built-in microphone.


At that price point, this is just a few simple components to keep all the telephone voltages from killing you and whatever sound is on the wires in each direction, that’s what you get.

You may run into another problem even if you do get set up properly. Most of the high end hybrids deliver line level, not microphone level. There’s roughly 1000 to one difference in volume between those and you can’t plug that into most laptop PCs. Deskside PCs can do that and all Macs.

One of the solutions we thought of is to get a recorder adapter for your cellphone and make that a non-speaking part of the conference. Wrap it in a heavy towel.


I’m a real newbie, so this might not be the best suggestion, but how about using Skype? You’d want a program that records Skype conversations, but if you go to, you’ll see quite a few of them listed. Hot Recorder and MX Skype Recorder are two.

I just recorded a Skype conversation this morning using MX Skype Recorder and the initial try came out pretty good. It’s good enough for my own purposes, but I’m trying to learn how to tweak it a bit for podcasts.

I’m using Windows XP and using an Ethernet connection to high-speed internet. I don’t know if a wireless laptop would be robust enough for Skype, so it might not work well on your Lenovo.

Once again, I’m a real newbie, so take my suggestion with a grain of salt.


P.S. I’m using a Logitech headset to record/speak over Skype.

I thought that’s why I got Audacity?!?

My levels are great coming out of the laptop speakers, and I’ve got 'em tamed with the meter tool, but everythings way too soft. I can barley hear anything.

<<<My levels are great coming out of the laptop speakers, and I’ve got 'em tamed with the meter tool, but everythings way too soft. I can barley hear anything.>>>

You need to ignore the speakers. That’s the first problem. If the red recording meters on the upper right of the Audacity workspace don’t pulse up to about -3 or so during the capture, you don’t have a recording no matter how loud the speakers get.

See the volume slider next to the microphone symbol? That should be all the way up if it isn’t already. On Windows machines, you also need to go into the sound control panels and make sure they’re cranked up, tool.

If you’re still getting low recordings (the red lights don’'t bounce up high enough), then you need to change your capture hardware to get better sound levels.

Reading from the original post again, computer Mic-In connections are sometimes a little optimistic. They assume a computer microphone which can be a lot louder than a real performance microphone from Shure Brothers or Electro-Voice.

Have you tried to increase the volume in post production? Edit > Select > All > Effect > Amplify.

Again from the post, it’s possible you mean you got a perfect recording in every way, but you can’t hear it. That’s a different problem.