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How can I transfer messages from my digital answering machine to my computer?
November 30, 2004 8:49 PM   Subscribe

I've saved some cute messages from my kids on my digital answering machine. I'd like to clear the machine, but save them on a CD or my hard drive without losing too much quality. What format would they be in, and how could I best make the transfer?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium to Technology (10 answers total)
 
I think it would be very hard to extract the data digitally.

You could open up the digital answer machine and hook wires to the speaker; then run those wires to the line in on your sound card.
posted by Chuckles at 9:09 PM on November 30, 2004


Ack, I should have added, this is probably a really easy thing to do, but some precautions would be a good idea. I would be happy to work on some more specific instructions if necessary.
posted by Chuckles at 9:12 PM on November 30, 2004


With my answering machine, I can call into it to get messages. I know there are ways to hook up tape recorders and even computers to a phone to record calls. That might be a clean way to do it, and it sounds easier than trying to patch the answering machine directly into a recording device.

Or, you could just put a microphone next to it. It wouldn't give you perfect fidelity, but you'd probably be pretty close.
posted by willnot at 9:46 PM on November 30, 2004


I thought maybe if I phoned from a friend's computer (since I'm on 56k modem) and save it as a .wav or something?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:45 PM on November 30, 2004


The wires to the sound card or mic input sound like a good possibility, also. Thanks.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:48 PM on November 30, 2004


Assuming there are no "line out" jacks, use a coil tap.

It's a little jobby that picks up changes in magnetic fields, generally used to record off of telephone handsets.

Radio shack used to carry them, the package said "Phone coil tap" I believe. A site I've never heard of sells them here.

The plug is a 1/8" phono I think. If you can move the machine next to your computer, it should plug right into the ubiquitous mic jack. Windows XP has a built in sound recorder under programs->Accessories->Entertainment, I imagine macs have something similar. It's pretty simple, and outputs .wav files, which you could then burn to a CD.

The sound quality is generally excellent, as long as you have it in the right place, which is generally right on top of the speaker. It doesn't pick up air movement and distant sounds like a microphone, but it will pick up "sounds" generated by the circuit board.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:35 AM on December 1, 2004


I'd try the mic recording first. The quality of phone messages is pretty low to begin with and you might not notice any difference. Give it a try, even a cheap low-quality mic should be able to pick this up easily.
posted by skallas at 4:52 AM on December 1, 2004


i asked a similar question a while ago about my cell phone. everyone was very helpful, but when i tried to hook up the phone to the computer's recorder using the headphone jack, all i recorded was static. i realize that troubleshooting without more information is practically impossible, but any suggestions for what might have gone wrong? alternative messages for recording the voicemails welcomed as well.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:10 AM on December 1, 2004


The problem with the mic is that it picks up all the distortion caused by the garbage speaker used in things like digital answer machines. I have never used a coil trap, but it must be far better than a mic for this application.
posted by Chuckles at 7:11 AM on December 1, 2004


As I recommended in this thread...

Don't go the rubber suction-cup mic route; the quality is poor and you worry about it falling off. Instead, cough up a (very) few dollars more and get a control like this that plugs into the handset line and your recording device (requires a 1/8" mic jack). Trust me.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:22 AM on December 1, 2004


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