Pt.1 Overview—Injecting Audio into Skype Calls And Recording Them Using VB-Audio Voicemeeter Banana

Objecives

So I need to inject audio into Skype calls and record them (on the Windows PC). I came up with a one-stop solution using VB-Audio Voicemeeter Banana (hereafter simply “Banana”) (its manual in PDF). The series of articles starting with this one will explain it in (literally) graphic detail. The setup is not specific to Skype and can be used for other VOIP client software too.

VB-Audio Voicemeeter Banana” gives you some basic tips on the use of Banana. “Windowsのオーディオシステムと紛らわしいVB-Audio Voicemeeterの用語” discusses (in Japanese) a little confusing terminology employed at VB-Audio. “WASAPIってようわからん” is my little personal cheat sheet on WASAPI (in Japanese).

Overview

Hover your mouse pointer to the lower part of the diagram in view-only mode of Draw.io and control buttons will show

Hover your mouse pointer to the lower part of the diagram in view-only mode of Draw.io and control buttons will show (original)

I have created the following two diagrams to illustrate how to set up Banana. They both have multiple layers (That’s why I used Draw.io, not Google Drawings).

The first diagram depicts “virtual audio cable wiring”, as it were, inside Banana and between Banana and relevant applications including Skype. The second diagram shows how these wirings can actually be achieved in Banana.

Once you click on the links above (not those embedded in “original”s), you will be prompted to authorize the use of Draw.io on Google Drive. You will need a Google Account for it. If you give the authorization, then you will be shown diagrams in Draw.io’s view-only mode. Hover your mouse pointer on the lower part of the diagram and a horizontal strip of four control buttons will show (see figure). Click on the rightmost button for layers and you will get a popup menu in which you can choose which layer(s) to see. The “original” links above are there for my own use.

Draw.io allows embedding its diagrams in Web pages, but unfortunately WordPress.com does not allow it (if you host WordPress (as blog platform, as opposed to a website that offers a service), then there’s DrawIt plugin). I will also post below PNG diagrams created from those above anyway, so that should probably do.  There will also be screenshots of the windows of other audio application software to be used in this setup.

In the end, all two objectives and two preferences put forth in “I Need to Inject Audio into Skype Calls And Record Them,” namely:

  • ability to inject audio into my Skype calls so the other party can hear it along with my voice at the same time, and
  • ability to record calls (audio from both parties); and
  • ideally, the setup does not affect other audio software that is not supposed to be used in conjunction with Skype, and
  • ideally, use of a headset is not required and the combination of a microphone and a set of speakers can work

will be met. However, the solution will not be presented in one setting; instead, it will be presented in the progression of the following four steps:

  1. allow injection of audio into Skype calls,
  2. allow recording of Skype calls using Banana’s internal recorder/player (and injection of audio from that player),
  3. allow recording of Skype calls using external audio recorders, and
  4. prevent irrelevant audio-producing software from interfering with Skype calls.

Perhaps I will not need both Step 2 and Step 3. Either one could suffice, but I wanted to set it up in the most universal way so I can be done with this issue once and for all.

In the articles that will follow this one, for each step, I will show one wiring diagram and one corresponding Banana setting diagram specifically for that particular step.

As a teaser, I am going to end this article with the wiring diagram and the Banana setting diagram that cover from Step 1 through 4.

The final wiring after going through Step 1 through 4

The final wiring after going through Step 1 through 4

The final configurations of Voicemeeter Banana after going through Step 1 through 4

The final configurations of Voicemeeter Banana after going through Step 1 through 4

 

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I Need to Inject Audio into Skype Calls And Record Them

Skype Logo

Skype Logo

I need to be able to do the following with my Skype calls on my Windows PC:

  • inject audio into my Skype calls so the other party can hear it along with my voice, and
  • record calls (audio from both parties),

along with the following strongly preferred conditions:

  • the setup does not affect other audio software that is not supposed to be used in conjunction with Skype, and
  • use of a headset is not required and the combination of a microphone and a set of speakers work fine.

They are for my English teaching business. I teach listening comprehension to some students. I pick a sample audio of a native-speaker or native-speakers speaking, say, from a YouTube video or an NPR program, and have them try to transcribe it in their free time. During their lessons with me, I play the audio bit by bit and help them fill in the parts they could not catch by providing them with various kinds of clues.

I have not actively used call recording (and playing), but I think it’d be very helpful in having students understand how they actually sound. Oftentimes, the sounds they think they are producing and the sounds that actually come out of their mouths are quite different, and they cannot recognize it. Surprising? But this happens so often. Usually I simply mimic their speech with a little exaggeration and contrast it with the correct speech. It seems to work well—exaggeration helps them recognize the differences. But having them listen to their own voice should also be effective.

My aversion to the use of a headset simply comes from my laziness. I have used a microphone and a set of speakers for my Skype calls for years and my callees never complained of unwanted feedback. I take it as a sign that the acoustic echo canceling feature is working well and if it is possible at all, I would like to keep this setup.

Why is this not so easy to achieve? Unlike what some people might naively think, you could not just use your regular audio player, such as Windows Media Player, to “inject” music into your Skype calls so the other parties could hear it. The same was true with recording; you could not just use your regular audio recorder, such Sound Recorder, to record your Skype calls. Skype once provided an API through which third-party “add-on” software could add functionality to the Skype client software. Such needs above were met by those add-ons, and Skype offered a directory of Skype add-ons where you could find those that satisfied your needs. However, after the acquisition by Microsoft, Skype decided to retire this API, making all the Skype add-ons completely useless.

There are some apps still work with Skype. For example, MP3 Skype Recorder (free) is used by some of our students so they can record their Skype lessons (by the way, I wonder how this software works). As to injection of audio, “Why I Don’t Use Stereo Mix in Injecting Audio into Skype Calls” discusses the usual method and why I do not want to use it.
How To Share Music On Skype Or Add Sound To Podcasts & Audio Clips Like a Pro” details one legit method. “Daydreaming about Automated Skype Client ” is certainly technically feasible, but it is more like a dream at this point.

However, I wanted a one-stop solution for both of my needs. I will write about my own solution in a separate article.