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  sound iconHelp with Windows Sound Recorder
Setting up for Simple Voice Recordings

 
BASICS: Launching Sound Recorder | Playing a Sound | Navigating a File
RECORDING: Setting the Recording Format | Setting the Microphone Level | Recording a Sound
EFFECTS & MORE: Editing a File | Adding Effects | Increasing Recording Time | More Info

>> Note to Macintosh OS-X users: Download the freeware utility Audio Recorder.

Windows Sound Recorder is a simple audio recording utility included with all versions of the Microsoft Windows Operating System published since 1995. It hasn't changed over the years, so this tutorial should be accurate no matter what version of Windows you are running.

After installing Sound Recorder, use it to record your voice for Distance Learning courses, such as Spanish 101 and Spanish 102. You can save the recorded files and send them as e-mail attachments. To do this, your computer must have a sound card (most do) and a you'll need a headset/microphone to plug into your computer.

Other features of Sound Recorder include simple editing, mixing, and adding effects to sound files with ease. Let your imagination and creativity loose to create your own sound effects.


Launching Sound Recorder

  • In Windows XP, navigate to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Entertainment > Sound Recorder.
  • In Windows 98 (Win98) or Win2000, navigate to Start > Programs > Accessories > Entertainment > Sound Recorder.
  • In Win95 or WinNT 4.0, navigate to Start > Programs > Accessories > Multimedia > Sound Recorder.

When the Sound Recorder pops on-screen, you’ll notice that it looks a bit like a tape recorder front panel. Sound Recorder interface

  • In the center of the window is a flat, green line. As the sound plays or records, this green line oscillates to visually represent the sound.
  • To the left is the Position indicator, represented in hundredths of a second.
  • To the right is the Length indicator, showing the total duration of the sound file.
  • Below these features is a Slide Bar indicator that shows where the sound file is playing, relative to its overall length. You can use the scroll bar to move through the sound file. The bar moves by either sliding it with the mouse or clicking on the right or left arrows.
  • Finally, located below the Slide Bar, you’ll see the universal symbols (from left to right) for Rewind image of rewind button on sound recorder, Fast Forward image of forward button on sound recorder, Play image of play button on sound recorder, Stop image of stop button on sound recorder, and Record image of record button on sound recorder.

Now that you’re familiar with Sound Recorder, we’ll walk you through some tasks.

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Playing a Sound

Sound Recorder interfaceTo play a sound, open the file and click on the Play button.

  1. On the File menu, click Open. A dialog box will appear.
  2. Navigate to the folder containing the sound file you want to play, select the file and then click Open.
  3. Click the play button image of play button on sound recorder to start playing the sound.
  4. Click the stop button image of stop button on sound recorder to stop playing the sound.

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Navigating a File

When working with long sound files, you’ll want to move through them as quickly as possible.

  • To move forward or backward, use the Sound Recorder scroll bar, or the keyboard left & right arrow keys.
  • To move to the end of a file, click the Fast Forward button image of forward button on sound recorder, move the scroll bar to the right or press END on the keyboard.
  • To move to the beginning, click Rewind image of rewind button on sound recorder, move the scroll bar to the left or press HOME on the keyboard.
  • To play part of the sound file, slide the scroll bar to any point in the file and click Play image of play button on sound recorder.

Note that the Rewind and Fast Forward buttons work instantly; one click takes you immediately to the beginning or the end.

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Setting the Recording Format

High quality recordings create large sound files. This could cause problems if you try to send those files as e-mail attachments. To avoid this, set the recording format in Windows Sound Recorder to create files that are of good quality but not so large as to choke your e-mail service.

Step 1
In the File menu, click Properties. A dialog box will appear.

Step 2
Use the Choose from: pull-down menu to select Recording formats, and click Convert Now...

Properties dialog box
Step 3
In the "Sound Selection" window, use the Attributes: pull-down menu to choose 8.000 kHz, 16 Bit, Mono, 15 kb/sec. This will change the settings to create a recording that sounds comparable to a good cell phone call. A one minute sound recording should be just under 1 MB (megabyte) in size.

To compare, an audio CD uses ten times as much data: 44.1 kHz/16 Bit/Stereo, for a file size of 1 minute = 10 MB.

Step 4
To save these settings, click the Save As... button. A pop-up will prompt you to "save this format as." Type in a name you'll remember, such as "Audio E-Mail," and click OK.

Step 5
You'll return to the "Properties for Sound" window. Click OK on this window, then OK on the Properties window, and your next sounds will be recorded at the 8 kHz/16 bit/Mono format.

Sound Selection dialog box

If you've already recorded your voice at high-quality, you probably ended up with some large files. To reduce the file size of existing recordings:

  1. Open the previously recorded sound, then click the File menu, and Properties.
  2. Use the Choose from: pull-down menu to select Playback formats, and click Convert Now...
  3. On the next dialog box, use the Name: pull-down menu to select Audio E-Mail, the name of the quality level you created above.
  4. Click OK on this window, then OK on the Properties window, and save your file with a new name.
  5. Compare the original file with the new file saved at lower quality. The new file size should be much smaller.

Here are 3 files created from the same recording, saved at different recording settings. Compare sound quality vs. file size.

File Length Quality
(kHz/bits/channels)
File Size
8.65 seconds CD (44/16/stereo) 1,491 kb
8.65 seconds Radio (16/16/mono) 271 kb
8.65 seconds Cellphone (8/16/mono) 136 kb

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Setting the Microphone Record Level

To record and play audio, you'll need a sound card, a microphone, and speakers or headphones. If your record button image of record button on sound recorder can be activated, your PC is equipped to record. To record your voice, hook the microphone into the audio-in jack on your computer's sound card. Before you begin recording, check your microphone settings for a proper volume level.

  1. After starting Sound Recorder, click on Edit>Audio Properties.
  2. In the Audio Properties dialogue box, under the Sound recording section, check to see that your sound card is the Default device (change this if necessary).
  3. Below the Default device, click on Volume.
  4. In the Recording Control dialogue box, be sure the microphone is the selected recording source, and turn its volume up full.
  5. Close this dialogue box and return to the Audio Properties box.
  6. Click OK.

You have successfully turned your microphone level up to record your voice at a proper volume level.

Edit Menu

Recording Control

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Recording a Sound

To record and play audio, you'll need a sound card, a microphone and speakers or headphones. If your record button image of record button on sound recorder can be activated, your PC is equipped to record. To record your voice, hook the microphone into the audio-in jack on your computer's sound card. (see above to set the microphone record level.)

  1. Make sure you have a microphone connected to your computer.
  2. On the File menu, click New.
  3. To begin recording, click image of record button on sound recorder and speak into the microphone.
  4. To stop recording, click image of stop button on sound recorder.
  5. To continue recording, click image of record button on sound recorder and speak into the microphone again.
  6. When finished, click image of stop button on sound recorder to stop recording.
  7. On the File menu, click Save As. Type a new name for your file, select the location where it will be saved, and Click the Save button.

 You can specify the default sound quality before you record a sound (see above>>)

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Editing a File

The editing tools are located in Sound Recorder’s Edit menu. After you edit a file, click Play to listen to your changes. If you like what you hear, save the file. (You’ll probably want to change the name.) If you don’t approve of the new sound, and you haven’t saved the file, choose Revert from the File menu to restore the file to its previous state.

The editing options are:edit menu

Insert File
This inserts an entire sound file anywhere in the current file. An inserted file will increase the sound file’s length.

To insert Ding.wav into Chord.wav, you:

  • Scroll to the desired location in the Chord.wav file.
  • Select Insert File from the Edit menu. The Insert File dialog box appears.
  • Select Ding.wav.
  • Click OK.

To listen, click Play.
Remember, if you want to save the file, change the name. (You don’t want to write over the original Chord.wav file.)

Mix With File
This mixes a second file with the original file. The sounds in the files will play simultaneously..

To mix the Chord.wav file with the Chimes.wav file:

  • 1) Scroll to the desired position in the Chord.wav file.
  • 2) Select Mix With File from the Edit menu. This brings up a dialog box.
  • 3) Select Chimes.wav.
  • 4) Click OK.
Delete Before Cursor Position
This deletes information from the beginning of the file to the current position in the file.
Delete After Current Position
This deletes information from the current position to the end of the file.

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Adding Effects

To give your file a little extra flavor, you can add special effects. These effects are available in the Effects menu and they manipulate the entire sound file. So if you only want a portion of the file to have a special effect, you’ll have to copy the sound file, cut it into portions, apply the effect a portion at a time and then combine them again.

The effects in Sound Recorder are:effects menu

Increase Volume
This increases the volume by 25%. (However, you can select this option twice for a 50% increase, three times for a 75% increase, and so on.)
Decrease Volume
This decreases the volume by 25%.
Increase Speed
This doubles the rate of a sound’s playback.
Decrease Speed
This slows the rate of a sound’s playback by 50%.
Add Echo
This adds an audio reverb.
Reverse
This reverses the sound so it can be played backward.

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Increasing The Maximum Recording Time

Sound Recorder included with Windows 95 and Windows 98 has a default maximum time of 60 seconds of continuous recording. If you stop recording at any point before reaching the 60 second limit, you can then continue recording and have another 60 seconds of continuous time before Sound Recorder automatically stops. You can repeat this start-stop routine indefinitely if you need to record a long passage as one file.

Here's an alternate method to increase the maximum recording time in Sound Recorder:

  1. Make sure your microphone is muted so it will not pick up sound.
  2. Click Record, and then let Sound Recorder run for 60 seconds (recording silence).
  3. After Sound Recorder stops recording, click Save As on the File menu, and name the file Blank.wav.
  4. To increase the maximum recording time in Sound Recorder, click Insert File on the Edit menu, and then insert the Blank.wav file that you saved in step 3. When you do this, the maximum recording time is increased by 60 seconds. You can repeat this step once for each additional minute of recording time that you want to add. For example, for a 5-minute recording time, insert the Blank.wav file five times.

Here's a 30 second, Telephone quality, blank file [324 kb] you can use. sound icon

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More Information

Installation - If the Sound Recorder (sndrec32.exe) is not already installed on your system, you will find instructions for its installation by clicking Start>Help, then choosing the Index tab and typing "Sound Recorder". Display the instruction by double clicking on Installation. Also, install the Windows 95 volume control by placing a check in the volume control box when checking the Sound Recorder box during the Sound Recorder installation process.

Microphone - To record sound, any inexpensive microphone with a mini plug that fits into your sound card microphone jack on your computer will do. An inexpensive stand microphone that you can buy in a computer store is nice, since it frees your hands for keyboarding. A slightly more expensive headset/microphone allows you to also listen in privacy without disturbing others around you. Click here for suggestions.