TotalRecorder is a fairly unique piece of Windows software that can capture any audio output to any sound card on your computer. It does this by adding some kind of Windows audio filter driver to the kernel that reads all the outgoing audio and captures it.

If we don't have this special technology, we are restricted to the following much less-desirable options:

  • Only using sound cards which provide a "What U Hear" Loopback capture channel: For example, many Creative soundcards provide this. This channel lets you record, as an Input source, any audio that gets sent to the Playback channel of the same sound card. The downside? It's extremely hardware-specific.

  • Using a virtual sound card with a loopback, such as Virtual Audio Cable. VAC automatically inserts a capture device for each playback device, which "loops back" all output sound back to an input channel for recording. The downside? To hear the audio through your soundcard at the same time, you have to run a program that actively "copies" the sound from your virtual audio cable to your soundcard. These programs are sometimes unreliable and prone to dropouts and added latency.

The third method used by TotalRecorder is roughly described as: as audio goes through any playback channel to any sound device, passively store a copy during recording, without having to "loop back" to an input device. This works even for sound cards that do not provide a "What U Hear" loopback device.

Additionally, TotalRecorder's unique capture method does not add any noticeable latency to the live playback of the audio through the speakers/headphones. Indeed, it seems not to add any latency whatsoever.

I am looking for some other piece of software that does what TotalRecorder does, while ideally being freeware or open source (although alternative commercial implementations are fine, too).

The main reason I'm looking for an alternative is:

  • TotalRecorder is fairly expensive for some people. While I own a Professional license, the cost makes it difficult to recommend to others with a more limited budget.
  • I run a lot of computers, and the number of licenses I'd need to legally run it on all of them can start to add up.
  • TotalRecorder seems to lack the ability to record to the Opus audio format. Opus is very efficient for storing voice audio at high quality, and most of what I need to record is voice. It's annoying having to record to a lossless format like FLAC (which is large but doesn't lose any quality) then later transcode the FLAC to Opus for long-term efficient storage. This is a limitation of the TotalRecorder product even if you purchase the full version.


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