Recording Audio on Locked-down Laptop

Texas_Toast

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 6, 2016
849
69
Texas
At work there are a few scenarios where i would like to be able to record audio. The problem is my work laptop is locked down and I can't install software or fiddle with things.

I would like to be able to record audio from a few different sources...

First is making a copy of some training videos so I can listen tot hem in my free time.

Next, is capturing Skype phone calls so I can go back and listen to what was said in meetings and take better notes.

Last is capturing audio from the intrenet so I can again listen to it later at my leisure.

(No, I am not trying to do anything bad!!)

My original thinking was this...

If I can hear something on my usb headset or on my laptop speakers, I should be able to capture that. I have a professional digital recorder, and I figured there would be an easy way to just plug my recorder in between my usb port and my usb headset, but apparently that won't work.

I do believe I can plug a cable into the 1/8" audio jack and record onto my recorder, but I really want a way to be able to talk and listen on my usb headset for meetings and also record the calls solely for the purpose of taking notes. (Again, this isn't like I am trying to record phone calls from crazy famly members!)

If I had a mac at work and full admin rights, I could do all of this using Audacity, but since this is a work laptop, that won't ever happen.

Is there a way to accomplish what I want to do?

Thanks!
 

dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
650
238
Key West FL
...
I do believe I can plug a cable into the 1/8" audio jack and record onto my recorder, but I really want a way to be able to talk and listen on my usb headset for meetings and also record the calls solely for the purpose of taking notes. ...
Sounds like you need a series of splitters.
  1. A splitter with a plug that fits your laptop's audio jack and duplicates all connections to both of its jacks (TRRS).
  2. Headset connected to one of the splitter's jacks for the "human interface"
  3. A second different type of splitter, connected to the other of the first splitter's jacks, that will split the headphone and mike channels. Its headphone jack will likely be stereo.
  4. A 3rd adapter to merge the TRS stereo headphone jack on the second splitter into a mono TS jack to fit your recorder. This should likely be a male-to-male adapter cord to avoid needing another "gender changer".
TRRS, TRS, ... : T=tip, R=ring, S =shield or ground. There are two wiring patterns for the TRRS (stereo headphone plus mono mike) jacks. Care needs to be taken to see that you get the right type for #2, and #3, above. Some splitters are solid "blocks" and others are multi-ended cords. It is likely best that #3 be the cord type to avoid mechanical conflicts. #1 could be either type in most situations.

Also, if you find the clutter of adapters too much of a mess at or near the laptop, you could add a male-to-female TRRS extension cord between the laptop and #1. This would make it a neat connection each day and allow the rat's nest of adapters to hide out of the way.
 

Texas_Toast

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 6, 2016
849
69
Texas
Sounds like you need a series of splitters.
  1. A splitter with a plug that fits your laptop's audio jack and duplicates all connections to both of its jacks (TRRS).
  2. Headset connected to one of the splitter's jacks for the "human interface"
  3. A second different type of splitter, connected to the other of the first splitter's jacks, that will split the headphone and mike channels. Its headphone jack will likely be stereo.
  4. A 3rd adapter to merge the TRS stereo headphone jack on the second splitter into a mono TS jack to fit your recorder. This should likely be a male-to-male adapter cord to avoid needing another "gender changer".
TRRS, TRS, ... : T=tip, R=ring, S =shield or ground. There are two wiring patterns for the TRRS (stereo headphone plus mono mike) jacks. Care needs to be taken to see that you get the right type for #2, and #3, above. Some splitters are solid "blocks" and others are multi-ended cords. It is likely best that #3 be the cord type to avoid mechanical conflicts. #1 could be either type in most situations.

Also, if you find the clutter of adapters too much of a mess at or near the laptop, you could add a male-to-female TRRS extension cord between the laptop and #1. This would make it a neat connection each day and allow the rat's nest of adapters to hide out of the way.
As far as I know, if I plugged a 3.5mm cable into my work laptop and then a 1/4" into my digital recorder, I could record anything I hear on the laptop's soundcard. That would work for capturing things like the soundtrack off of the training video I was interested in.

For Skype, I need something else, because I have a usb headphone/headset and I believe that is all digital. Plus you can't split usb like you can analog lines. I'm not sure how to accomplish that one?
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,141
1,800
Between the coasts
(No, I am not trying to do anything bad!!)
If the machine is so carefully locked down, I'd think that your employer probably does consider copying training materials or recording/exporting internal communications to be 'bad.' Your intent may seem innocent to you, but it may still be a firing offense in the eyes of the company. Look before you leap.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,179
5,535
OP wrote:
"I'm using a corporate PC, without Quicktime, and even if I had it, I cannot record on my laptop because I cann't take files off my computer."

If this is the case, sumthin' tells me that you aren't going to be able to do ANYTHING that you mentioned above.

And even if you could, it might be too risky (concerning your job) to even try.
 

dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
650
238
Key West FL
As far as I know, if I plugged a 3.5mm cable into my work laptop and then a 1/4" into my digital recorder, I could record anything I hear on the laptop's soundcard. That would work for capturing things like the soundtrack off of the training video I was interested in.

For Skype, I need something else, because I have a usb headphone/headset and I believe that is all digital. Plus you can't split usb like you can analog lines. I'm not sure how to accomplish that one?
Yup, a simple cable will work for audio that normally outputs to the laptop's speakings, though would would need some earphones, or other, plugging into the digital recorder if you needed to monitor the audio.

And yup again, if the headset uses a USB connection then it is its own audio device/DAC and the laptop's audio, and related speaker and headphone/mic jack aren't part of the loop for Skype. You would need way to dissect the headset to splice in a splitter. Major surgery that might have problems. Back in the analog days, there have been headsets made that had a built-in splitter to allow "supervisor" monitoring. Whether there are modern USB interface headsets with similar facilities I wouldn't know. Maybe a super small "spy" mic tucked in your ear under the headset and a second taped to the headset's mic would work...sounds like a bit of an extreme kluge.
 

Texas_Toast

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 6, 2016
849
69
Texas
OP wrote:
"I'm using a corporate PC, without Quicktime, and even if I had it, I cannot record on my laptop because I cann't take files off my computer."

If this is the case, sumthin' tells me that you aren't going to be able to do ANYTHING that you mentioned above.

And even if you could, it might be too risky (concerning your job) to even try.
That is the point of my OP... If I could record something outside of my laptop I can't be monitored. But the minute I start recording and saving and downloading and copying and emailing stuff from on my computer, I'd be dead.

I am sure plugging in a record to the 3.5mm will work, but I was hoping to capture Skype calls so i can go back and take notes. Maybe I should take a class in shorthand? :)