record voicemail from old landline

I am using Audacity 3.2.2 on Windows 10. I have used Audacity for several school projects and have had very good results recording from my computer and directly with a mic. I have recorded in quiet places an with quite a bit of background noise. All with good results.

I am trying to record some old voicemails for a friend whose husband died several years ago but who has voicemail recordings from him on an old landline. The recordings are on the phone itself, not stored on the carrier’s equipment. No need to call a voicemail access number enter a pin or anything, just press the play button on the desktop unit itself.

There is no speaker out jack on the phone. My only choice is to use the built in speaker.

I cannot get Audacity to record any sound from the phone. I have tested the microphone (“Test 1, 2, 3”) and Audacity records a mere whisper from my voice but nothing from the phone at full volume or any other volume setting.

When experimenting with my cell phone, I have the same problem. I have tried MME, Windows Direct Sound and Windows WASAPI. All with the same result - nothing recorded. I can record my voice with any of these settings using both the laptop mic and my JVC headphone/microphone combo (HA-EBR80).

Occasionally, when I put the cell phone speaker directly against the mic, I can record the first few words, but then recording volume goes to zero.

Any idea of what is causing this or what I may be doing wrong?

Windows Audio enhancements can do that. They should be switched off for faithful recording disable recording & playback enhancements.

I don’t know if inductive pick-up coils work in modern telephones, but they are cheap (<$5) …
If you can get one to work you avoid the problem of ambient noise.

We expect that to eventually work, but that’s not the way I did it.

That’s a Zoom H1n sound recorder, two books, and a bath towel. The books are to get the recording microphone heads in line with the speaker and the bath towel is to keep reflections and slap effects out of the sound.

I’m searching for a sound sample from this recording.


Found it. I think I tripped over a laundry basket during the recording. You have to be careful not to do anything like that during the performance.


It’s all coming back to me. Based on this success, I connected headphones to the Zoom monitor port as quality control and just left them there during the whole machine capture.

I was going to say the whole tape capture, but the machine isn’t that old.

The copper land-line had been gone since the middle of August.