Or any phone call. Of course, be sure and tell the other person you are recording them – it’s illegal in most states to record a phone call without telling the other person.
For those unaware, Skype is a brilliant piece of software allowing you to make any voice calls to any other Skype user WORLDWIDE free. Skype runs on Macs, Windows & Linux so you’re pretty much covered. It’s interface is all gorgeous with Web 2.0 colors, wet and shiny but its actual controls are a bit all over the place. They need to unify their controls somehow but once you uncover how to use it – it could not be easier.
Upon launch, you are asked to select a user name and this is your Skype identity to call in and out. Then you can add other Skype users – calling them is easy. Double click on their name and you have intiated the call. At their end, they can click ANSWER or REFUSE. There is also a built-in chat to leave a chat message if they are not in.
There are add-on features including SKYPE OUT which lets you call any landline or cell phone number in the US/Canada for either $29 a year or call any phone in the world for about $.02 a minute plus a $.04 charge per call by purchasing credits in $10 blocks (these are US rates).
SKYPE IN lets you buy a phone number anywhere in the world for $38 a year or $12 for 3 months. So, your third bedroom office company can have “offices” in Jakarta, Geneva & New York – you can also forward calls and you get voicemail. You can also get voicemail separately. They also offer Skype SMS.
While I haven’t called everywhere in the world, the sound quality is essentially a landline and often better than a cell to cell call – no complaints here.
All you really need is a microphone if your computer does not have one and some headphones – without headphones, you get an echo as the sound is coming from your speakers so to use Skype, your checklist is pretty short and cheap other than having a computer & DSL/Cable broadband:
Headphones (any 1/8″ plug type will do)
Microphone (built in or add on)
If you have a headset with 1/8″ adapter, you can use it as well as Bluetooth headsets but I won’t cover that here.
Record your conversation. Unfortunately WIRETAP (free) no longer works with OSX 10.4. For older Mac users, it’s a great simple app. Click to record anything playing through your Mac that can normally be heard through your headphones or speakers, it saves it to DESKTOP. There is a Pro version.
I also tried AUDACITY (free) but I could only get it to record my voice … which is not exactly Don LaFontaine – and damn, I seem to spend a lot of conversations laughing at my own jokes. Audacity seems feature laden but way too cryptic for me. It also didn’t look very Mac-like so that was another strike.
Of course, I also tried GarageBand but it doesn’t seem to set up to record incoming audio. It does however a brilliant job with recording audio from your desktop. If you select podcast and male voice, it filters out all the background noise automatically and I actually sound like Don LaFontaine … well, maybe his cousin with a throat injury so if you want to sound all NPR and professional, GarageBand is brilliant (it’s included with iLife and with any new Mac) but not very easy to record incoming audio.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon CALL RECORDER For SKYPE. Humm, you say – what does that do? By golly, it records calls for Skype. It is a one trick pony (well it also records video) but it works as it should. It adds a RECORD button to the Skype Prefs menu – you can adjust some settings. After that, when you launch Skype, a little control setting pops up with STOP, RECORD & PAUSE. As soon as your Skype phone “rings,” the RECORD button becomes active. Your files are auto saved as QT dot mov files which you can open in QT or iTunes. There is a demo for 7 days, the cost for the full version is a very reasonable $14.95.
So while I’m sure you can get Audacity working to record, the disadvantage is that as you are calling people, you have to launch another app while CALL RECORDER is just a tiny button right next to Skype’s buttons.
So, the simplest solution to recording a phone call through Skype is a computer:
Skype credits ($10) – worldwide calling
Call Recorder for Skype ($14.95)
So, you are set if your needs are recording but wait, there’s more!
If you want to go beyond just recording – there are dozens of phones like this Linksys which let’s you use Skype with a “normal” looking headset … Or this Netgear one that doesn’t even require a PC/Mac or your PC/Mac to be one – it plus directly into your router.
So add another choice to the stew of acronyms of POTS, VOIP and others like CELL or SKYPE.
(Yes, I know there are non Skype choices in “free” VOIP services but it’s easier to find another Skype user).