Sound Recorder (Windows)

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Sound Recorder
A component of Microsoft Windows
Sound Recorder icon.png
Sound Recorder Vista.png
Sound Recorder in Windows Vista
Type Sound recorder program
Included with Microsoft Windows
Related components

Sound Recorder is an audio recording program included in most versions of the Microsoft Windows metafamily of operating system. On Windows 10 (the tenth major release in the Windows NT family), it is replaced by Voice Recorder.


Sound Recorder has been in most versions and editions of Windows since Windows 3.0, including Windows 9x, Windows Server and the client versions of Windows NT. Even Windows Mobile came with one. Its user interface and feature set saw very little change until Windows Vista, when features that lacked practicality were discontinued and Sound Recorder was simplified. This version of Sound Recorder was included in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, but did not make it to Windows 10.

A second, different Sound Recorder was introduced in Windows 8.1. This second app was a Windows Store app and adhered to the design tenets of the Metro design language. A version was also made available for Windows 10 Mobile.[1] In Windows 10, it was renamed Voice Recorder. This app is available for versions of Windows since Windows 8, on both personal computers and mobile devices.[2]


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, typically called Wave-Out Mix or Stereo Mix.

Before Windows Vista, Sound Recorder was capable of:

  • Playing the audio files that it has recorded
  • Converting the bit rate, bit depth and sampling rate of the audio file
  • Inserting other audio files at the beginning, end or the desired location of the current audio
  • 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

These features, however, were either removed in Windows Vista or taken over by other applications.[3] The playback and trimming features reappeared in Voice Recorder, although Voice Recorder can only play its own recordings.[2]

Sound Recorder accepts command-line parameters.[4]

File format[edit]

Before Windows 7, Sound Recorder could save the recorded audio in waveform audio (.wav) container files. Sound Recorder could also open and play existing .wav files. To successfully open compressed .wave files in Sound Recorder, the audio codec used by the file must be installed in the Audio Compression Manager (ACM).

Starting with Windows Vista, Sound Recorder saves recorded audio in Windows Media Audio (.wma) files instead; the exceptions to this are the Home Basic N and Business N editions, which continue to use .wav.[4] Also, audio metadata such as Artist, Album, Title, and Genre can be added to the sound file directly while saving the file.[3]

Voice Recorder, however, records audio in MPEG-4 Part 14 (.m4a) format, which is more popular than .wav and .wma formats.


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.[5] In addition, it is possible to use the Sound Recorder's concatenation feature to increase the length of the audio file. For example, saving an initial 1 minute recording as "1min.wav" and then inserting the "1min.wav" file 9 times creates 10 minutes of recording which can then be saved as "10min.wav". This "10min.wav" file can then be suffixed to itself 5 more times (or as many times as there is room in 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).

In 32-bit versions of Windows 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.[6] There does, however, exist an unofficial patch that resolves this problem.[7]

The Sound Recorder in Windows Vista and later uses the hard disk for recording audio and can therefore record audio up to any length as long as there is free space on the hard disk drive.[8]