How to Record Streaming Audio

Recording streaming audio on your PC couldn't be easier. There are a host of free and commercial tools for doing this. Recording programs fall in two categories - audio recorders and stream capture programs. One program (Replay Media Catcher) offers both methods. More advanced programs add radio station tuning and scheduling, and some audio filtering and conversion options as well.

Audio Recorders

Audio Recorders work by capturing the audio that's about to play from your sound card. These are the most common type of recording program. The advantage is that any format of audio can be recorded, even copy protected (DRM) audio. The disadvantage is that quality can suffer a bit -- the audio is converted from a compressed format (like Windows Media or MP3) to an uncompressed format (WAV), and back to a compressed format again. It's sort of like making a photocopy of a photocopy. In most cases the audio quality will be great, but it's never as good as the original. The audio quality can also be affected by your PC's sound card settings as well.

Another disadvantage is that these programs take over your sound card - any other noises that occur on your PC will appear in your recordings, and you can only record one thing at a time.

Some recommended audio recording programs are Freecorder and Replay Music.

Freecorder is a powerful, free sound recorder that makes MP3 files. It works right inside your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser. It can also capture video, and do basic format conversions.
Replay Music is a cool audio recorder that works great for capturing songs. It is able to extract individual song files, and also recognize those songs to tag the MP3 files with the artist, title, album and genre data. It works really well with Digital Music Services and online radio stations that have discernible markers between songs. It can burn CDs, too.

Stream Capture Programs

Stream capture programs work differently - rather than recording audio, these programs record the bits and bytes directly from the server. The advantage is that your audio quality is a perfect reproduction from the original server, and in many cases you can record multiple streams at the same time. These programs can also capture streaming video, too.

The disadvantage is that protected audio or audio from subscription sites often can't be recorded. Also, most of these programs (with the exception of Replay A/V) have no conversion capabilities, so you'll need to purchase a separate audio or video conversion program if, for example, you record a Real Audio file but need to listen to it as an MP3 file.

A recommended stream capture program is WM Recorder.

Combo Programs

There is one program that offers both Stream Capture and Audio Recording - Replay Media Catcher. Using the stream capturing feature, you can record several radio programs simultaneously, or record streaming video. It can capture clips, or you can schedule recordings of live web-based broadcast audio and video..