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Sound Recorder is an audio recording program included in Microsoft Windows. The Vista version can record for longer durations but contains fewer options, and cannot play back recorded sound.

Many alternative utilities are available for download, including the open source tool Audacity.


Sound Recorder can record audio from a microphone or headset. In addition, many modern sound cards allow their output channels to be recorded through a loopback channel is typically called Wave-Out Mix, Stereo Mix or similar. The recorded audio can be saved in .wav. Sound Recorder can also open existing uncompressed or compressed .wav files. However, the native Windows 7 Sound Recorder can not process generic .wav files, and processes only proprietary .wma files. To successfully open compressed .WAV files in Sound Recorder, the audio codec used by the file must be installed in the Audio Compression Manager (ACM).

In all versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista, Sound Recorder was based on Audio Compression Manager.[citation needed] It could open and save audio in 8-bit or 16-bit uncompressed PCM format (.wav) from 8 kHz to 48 kHz, including CD Quality audio (44,100 Hz, 16-bit, stereo PCM).[citation needed]

Although Sound Recorder only saved in the .wav format, it could use any of the installed ACM codecs to compress the audio; typically several voice codecs and the MPEG Layer III (MP3) codec were installed by default. As ACM supported only Constant bitrate (CBR) stereo audio files[citation needed], Sound Recorder also had these limitations[citation needed] and did not support Variable bitrate (VBR) files or multichannel audio[citation needed].

All versions prior to the Windows Vista version of Sound Recorder could apply some simple audio transformations:

  • Convert the bitrate, bit depth and sampling rate of the audio file[citation needed]
  • Use Audio Compression Manager (ACM) to compress the audio using installed ACM codecs or convert it to a different codec format.
  • Inserting and/or mixing in audio from other files.
  • Splitting out parts of the current audio clip.
  • Increasing or decreasing volume in 25% increments.
  • Increase or decrease playback speed in 100% increments.
  • Adding an echo (without reverberation).
  • Reversing the current audio clip.

Command line switches are needed as it will not auto-play a file referenced in a batch file, startup folder, or task scheduler event. Use the /PLAY switch to launch the playback automatically. (SNDREC32.exe /PLAY "C:\Path\File.wav") Use the /CLOSE switch at the end of the string to close the application. (SNDREC32.exe /PLAY "C:\Path\File.wav" /CLOSE) In Vista, Sound Recorder is instead called SoundRecorder.exe and has different command-line switches. Vista's SoundRecorder.exe can be started at the command line by using the /DURATION switch (example: SoundRecorder.exe /duration 1000:20:30 will record for 1000 hours, 20 minutes, and 30 seconds) and is automatically terminated after the duration.[1] The SoundRecorder icon will be displayed in the task bar during recording.[2] Using the /FILE switch (examples: /file filename.wav /file filename.wma) allows you to name the file and select a file type.[3]

In editions before Windows Vista, on computers with more than 2 GB of RAM, after recording (but not when playing), Sound Recorder will return an error message indicating that there is not enough memory. This is a design flaw of older versions of Sound Recorder and officially cannot be resolved except by reducing the amount of available physical memory.[4] There does, however, exist an unofficial patch that resolves this problem.[5]

Under some circumstances, Sound Recorder will not default to the Windows default recording device (set in Control Panel, Sounds and Audio Devices, Audio tab, Sound recording, Default device). In this case, one must manually select it by clicking Edit, Audio Properties.[citation needed]

The new version of Sound Recorder included in Windows Vista uses the hard disk for recording audio [6] and can therefore record audio up to any length as long as there is free space on the hard disk drive. Also, tags such as Artist, Album, Title, and Genre can be added to the sound file directly from the Save dialog. However, Sound Recorder lacks several features that were present in the earlier version of the program. It cannot open existing WAV or WMA files,[7] and by default, it only allows saving to the lossy WMA format at 96 kbit/s. (Windows Vista N only allows saving as WAV; on other editions, to force Sound Recorder to save as WAV, the user must start Sound Recorder with the command line "soundrecorder /file outputfile.wav".)[8] Sound Recorder has been stripped of all basic audio processing features, foremost the ability to play an audio file, but also lacks sample rate conversion, adding echo, reversing the audio, changing volume and playback speed, splitting, and inserting and mixing audio. The overhaul of the user interface resulted in the removal of the sound wave graphic display.

Versions of Sound Recorder before Windows Vista recorded audio to memory, rather than to the hard disk, and the length of recording was by default limited to 60 seconds. Microsoft recommends recording 60 seconds and pressing the Record button again to record another minute [9]. It is easy to achieve longer recording times by using "File | Save" with "Edit | Insert File ..." to increase it. For example, saving an initial 1 minute recording as "1min.wav" and then inserting the "1min.wav" file 9 times will create a 10 minute long recording which can then be saved as "10min.wav". This "10min.wav" file can then be inserted 5 more times (or as many times as there is room in primary memory) to create a "1hour.wav" file. By recording over any of these longer sound files, Sound Recorder can have an uninterrupted arbitrary recording time (limited only by primary memory).

Using Windows XP Sound Recorder to play .wav clips after upgrading to Win 7 is possible if you use the sndrec32.exe from XP in Win 7 by selecting the Compatibility Tab. Then, check off the box to "Run this Program in compatibility mode for:", then selecting "Windows XP (Service Pack 2). Although some functions such as the visual graph do not work.


See also

  • Wave audio format
Microsoft Windows components
  • SCM
  • BITS
  • Task Scheduler
  • Wireless Zero Configuration
  • Shadow Copy
  • Error Reporting
  • Multimedia Class Scheduler
  • CLFS
File Systems
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