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 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.


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 bitrate, bit depth and sampling rate of the audio file
  • 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

These features, however, were either removed in Windows Vista or taken over by other applications.

The trimming feature reappeared in Voice Recorder of Windows 10 as well as its predecessor in Windows 8.1.

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. It can no longer be used as a sound player.

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


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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[3] There does, however, exist an unofficial patch that resolves this problem.[4] One can use the 'msconfig' utility to sort out needed memory reduction if, there is more than 2048MB of physical memory. It is not necessary therefore to[physically]remove additional sticks of RAM. - > RUN[at the start menu] > type 'msconfig' [w/o quotes] > choose BOOT.INI tab > select 'Advanced options' > chk the /MAXMEM= box and secure that there is 2048 in the appropriate box. Clk ok and restart. The restart is necessary.

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[5] 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,[6] 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".)[7] 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.[8] 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).


See also[edit]