How can I copy audio from an old digital recorder?
November 18, 2020 11:23 AM   Subscribe

It doesn't have any usb ports to connect to a laptop. All it has is a mic jack and an ear jack.

I thought I could just take a Male to Male audio cable- stick one end to the "ear" port in the digital recorder and the other end to the audio jack of a laptop. Then open up the voice recorder on Windows and play the recording into the laptop. But this doesn't work. The recorder doesn't pick up anything. What am I doing wrong?
posted by fantasticness to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I would suggest a more robust audio recorder than voice recorder. Audacity is a free download and you can choose/customize your input source so it knows what to listen to, and at what volume, when recording.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:33 AM on November 18, 2020

What you're describing ought to work. A few possible troubleshooting ideas:

Can you hear any sound if you plug headphones into the digital recorder's audio output?

Are you sure that the cable is plugged into the correct port on the laptop, and that you've selected the correct input in your audio recording software? Many computers have separate "line in" and "microphone" input ports, and your laptop probably also has a built-in microphone. On Windows, you can right-click the taskbar volume control and click "Sound settings" to select an input device. (Or install Audacity, as AgentRocket suggests.)

Are you sure there's really nothing being recorded -- maybe it's just too quiet to hear? Try turning the playback and recording volume levels all the way up.
posted by teraflop at 11:39 AM on November 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Does the laptop have a single jack, or separate jacks for mic and headphones? If it has a single jack, you may need a cable like this that gives you a traditional "mic in" jack (you can ignore the headphone jack for your purposes). The adapter is passive -- it just routes the right parts of the mic-only cable to the right parts of the jack.
posted by Alterscape at 11:56 AM on November 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

Alterscape's suggestion should work for most laptops, but if not, another thing you can do is get a cheapo USB audio interface adapter, which has a separate mic input jack.
posted by Aleyn at 12:46 PM on November 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

What's going on is the jack on your laptop only listens for audio in on one part of an expected TRRS male plug (think headset) and if you put in a normal TRS plug it hears nothing. There's some ways muck around with splicing to cheap cables together with maybe a resistor to get this functionality out of a few cents in materials so that it will as you hoped the simple cable would, but unless that sounds fun and you have more enough time and interest than money, I'd just buy the thing linked above.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

You'd probably need a line-in jack rather than a mic-in on the laptop for this to really work. Line-in jacks are more common on desktop PCs than in laptops. Or there are USB devices that allow you to receive line-in audio.
posted by DarkForest at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

What make and model is the old digital recorder? I'm wondering whether there's some way to get direct access to its recording medium.
posted by flabdablet at 6:06 AM on November 19, 2020

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