How to record microphone input sound (only) using good old ffmpeg

The good old ffmpeg, along with being able to capture sound and video from your Linux Desktop or a certain Window and Skype whatever WebCamera input is also able to record sound from both camera or embedded laptop microphone. Here is how:

# ffmpeg -f alsa -ac 2 -i pulse   -acodec pcm_s16le -vcodec libx264 -vpre lossless_ultrafast -threads 0  -y  myVOICE.wav

This as you can see from arguments, uses GNOME's pulseaudio (audio service) and ALSA. Sound is first streamed through alsa and then the sound inflow is passed to be processed and multipled in a separate sound channel by pulseaudio. This method though said to be working fine on Ubuntu Linux is not working well on some other Linux distributions like Debian if one is using ALSA configured to use a software sound multiplexor via the so called – alsa dsnoop interface (previously I write how to use it in order to make Skype and other programs use SoundBlaster proper – article is here)

Below is the output warning I got whether trying ffmpeg with -f alsa and -i pulse arguments:

hipo@noah:~/Desktop$ ffmpeg -f alsa -ac 2 -i pulse   -acodec pcm_s16le -vcodec libx264 -vpre lossless_ultrafast -threads 0  -y  myVOICE.wav
FFmpeg version SVN-r25838, Copyright (c) 2000-2010 the FFmpeg developers
  built on Sep 20 2011 17:00:01 with gcc 4.4.5
  configuration: --enable-libdc1394 --prefix=/usr --extra-cflags='-Wall -g ' --cc='ccache cc' --enable-shared --enable-libmp3lame --enable-gpl --enable-libvorbis --enable-pthreads --enable-libfaac --enable-libxvid --enable-postproc --enable-x11grab --enable-libgsm --enable-libtheora --enable-libopencore-amrnb --enable-libopencore-amrwb --enable-libx264 --enable-libspeex --enable-nonfree --disable-stripping --enable-avfilter --enable-libdirac --disable-decoder=libdirac --enable-libschroedinger --disable-encoder=libschroedinger --enable-version3 --enable-libopenjpeg --enable-libvpx --enable-librtmp --extra-libs=-lgcrypt --disable-altivec --disable-armv5te --disable-armv6 --disable-vis
  libavutil     50.33. 0 / 50.43. 0
  libavcore      0.14. 0 /  0.14. 0
  libavcodec    52.97. 2 / 52.97. 2
  libavformat   52.87. 1 / 52.87. 1
  libavdevice   52. 2. 2 / 52. 2. 2
  libavfilter    1.65. 0 /  1.65. 0
  libswscale     0.12. 0 /  0.14. 1
  libpostproc   51. 2. 0 / 51. 2. 0
[alsa @ 0x633160] capture with some ALSA plugins, especially dsnoop, may hang.

where concrete programs, are run which take use of OSS (Open Sound System) – an already obsolete sound architecture. By the way on current Debian / Fedora etc. Linux-es OSS is managed and played only, whether few kernel modules are already  pre-loaded, below are the ones as pasted from my Debian Squeeze:

# lsmod | grep -i oss
snd_pcm_oss            32591  0
snd_mixer_oss          12606  1 snd_pcm_oss
snd_pcm                60487  3 snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_pcm_oss
snd                    46526  15 snd_hda_codec_analog,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_hwdep,snd_pcm_oss,snd_mixer_oss,snd_pcm,snd_rawmidi,snd_seq,snd_timer,snd_seq_device

The oss processed sound recording from ffmpeg is not working, well on my Linux, cause I have my custom (non-Debian) native binary Firefox downloaded and installed from Firefox's website.The browser is compiled to open automatically /dev/dsp which in practice uses the above-mentioned OSS listed modules, which on their behalf when used break out the sound processed by alsa and respectively pulseaudio (those who use Linux for longer time should remember in the times of OSS only one certain sound stream was possible to be processed / played on Linux historically before ALSA come to scene to be "defacto" standard kernel sound processor. Well ofcourse firefox developers who compiled the Firefox for Linux probably was using Slackware or some other Linux distro which probably used to play sound still via OSS or maybe they compiled it so thinking OSS because of its historical importance is still supported by more Linux distributions than alsa is. I like the custom compiled Firefox to run on my Debian instead of default Debian Squeeze (IceWeasel) cause firefox.org ,Firefox version is much newer and supports better latest HTML5  as well as it includes ability to download and apply automatic updates to the latest version provided by Firefox team. However I fou

Thus for Linux users like me using latest firefox binary from firefox.org (in parallel) with opened Firefox browser to record sound from Webcam or Embedded notebook mic the obsolete OSS has to be used, here is how:

# ffmpeg -f oss -ac 2 -i /dev/dsp   -acodec pcm_s16le -vcodec libx264 -vpre lossless_ultrafast -threads 0  -y  my-recorder-VOICE.wav

Enjoy ;)

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3 Responses to “How to record microphone input sound (only) using good old ffmpeg”

  1. Homer says:
    Firefox 22.0 Firefox 22.0 Ubuntu x64 Ubuntu x64
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:22.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/22.0

    I get this error:
    [oss @ 0x1d5c9c0] /dev/dsp: No such file or directory
    /dev/dsp: Input/output error
     

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    • admin says:
      Opera 12.15 Opera 12.15 GNU/Linux x64 GNU/Linux x64
      Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux x86_64) Presto/2.12.388 Version/12.15

      Check out if /dev/dsp is existing in your system ls -al /dev/dsp if not maybe you need to load some kernel module (check out locate oss |grep -i .ko) to create it or create it manually with mknod cmd

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  2. Nick says:
    Google Chrome 66.0.3359.181 Google Chrome 66.0.3359.181 Windows 10 x64 Edition Windows 10 x64 Edition
    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/66.0.3359.181 Safari/537.36

    This is great. Thanks for sharing these how to record mic using ffmpeg.

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