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Home security cameras are a popular choice to include as part of a smart home, especially when you have lots of other smart gear you want to be able to keep a close eye. Knowing how well they can record video got me thinking about whether can also record sound.
Most home security cameras do have the ability to record sound with the built-in microphones being able to pick up sounds within the monitoring zone. It is also possible to connect an external microphone with certain models.
I did some research into 10 different home security cameras to find out if they can record audio and found some ways in which you can tell if your existing camera has the ability to record sound. Just keep in mind the legality of recording audio too, even at home.
How Do Home Security Cameras Record Sound
As you can see from the table below, most security cameras you would typically use at home do feature audio recording. It is only the more high-end cameras that come as part of a complete home security system that do not.
|Home Security Camera||Sound Recording?|
These cameras have the ability to detect and record sound thanks to their built-in microphone. You can then playback both the video and audio at the same time should you need to.
Some cameras allow you to connect an external microphone to better pick up audio from further away, but I wouldn’t typically recommend this setup as it can be quite awkward to setup. The built-in microphone found in most cameras will be sufficient in the majority of cases.
Is It Legal to Record Audio?
Some people may be conferenced around the legality of recording sound on a home security camera, even when the camera is placed in your own home.
I can see why this could be a concern for many given how many privacy laws exist these days and how cameras in general can infringe on people’s privacy if they are not used properly and ethically.
Audio recording laws will vary from place to place and are generally stricter than the laws that police video monitoring.
In one country it may not be an issue whatsoever, but in another doing so could land you in hot water if you’re not careful.
Providing they are placed in your own home with the purpose of security, you can legally install security cameras and record audio.
Just a heads up that installing them in places where people have the right to privacy, like the bedroom or bathroom, is not allowed. That applies to both video and audio recordings.
Audio recording in public is a whole another ball game, which we won’t go into now, but just know that security cameras cannot record sound unless you have obtained specific consent from the parties involved.
My advice would be to check local, state and federal laws before ever installing a security camera that can record sound in public.
How to Tell If Home Security Cameras Record Sound
It is incredibly hard to tell from just looking at a security camera whether it can record sound, but there a few different ways you can find out.
The most obvious way to find out if a camera can record audio is to look at the product online. The technical specifications page for that model of camera should clearly state whether it can record audio. You may even find it listed as a feature.
- Look for a small hole
If you have access to look at the camera up close, keep an eye out for a very small hole located in the housing of the camera lens. This is likely to be the microphone and is a clear indication that sound recording is possible.
- Record a video clip
Assuming you already have access to a camera, record a short video clip, making sure you make some noise whilst doing so.
Download the clip and play it back to see if the footage has also recorded any audio. The playback tool will likely have some monitoring where you can visibly see the audio in waveform.
- Enquire with the manufacturer
Another easy way to find out whether a particular camera can record sound is to enquire with the manufacturer.
A quick phone call or email to them will likely get a swift response if they are a reputable company or see you as a potential customer. You may be able to find out quicker by just looking at the product online, though.
Why Don’t Some Home Security Cameras Record Sounds
There aren’t a huge number of home security cameras with the ability to record sound, and they have a few good reasons as to why they would choose to not include this as a feature.
The first is the obvious legality around audio recording. Although the manufacturer themselves wouldn’t be seen as a liable in a potential legal battle, it may not look good on them if a case becomes public and their name and product is plastered all over the news.
I suspect that most manufacturers choose to not record audio for this reason alone; it could greatly limit the number of customers that would buy their product given how the privacy laws around recording audio vary so greatly all over the world.
Microphones generally have a pretty limited range, even if they are not built into a security camera.
It isn’t easy to record sounds at the same range as it is to record video, and you probably wouldn’t want a camera that can record video at twice the distance that it can record audio.
Those with specialist microphones that can pick up sounds from further away also inevitably cost more, both to the manufacturer to produce their product and for us as the consumers.
Additional space will also be required on the storage device.
Although audio recordings will not take up as much storage space as video recordings, particularly those at high resolutions, they still consume storage, nonetheless.
More storage space being required also impacts cost, making the product overall more expensive.
How to Add Sound Recording to a Home Security Camera
Even though a home security camera may support sound recording, it may not have a built-in mic to do the recording.
If a particular camera supports it, chances are it will have a built-in mic, but that’s not to say it is guaranteed.
Should you already have a security camera that does support audio recording but doesn’t have an onboard microphone, you can get external microphone kits, but these can be a pain to set up and install.
Not to mention the additional wires you will need to find a home for. This is difficult enough inside let alone if your camera is installed outside keeping a watchful eye on your back yard.
If you really care that much about sound recording, my advice would be to sell your existing camera and invest in a replacement with a built-in microphone. It will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.
How Far Can a Home Security Camera Record Sound?
As you would expect, this will vary greatly between different models and brands.
If you go to a reputable manufacturer’s website, you may find they have some sample videos that include sound recordings. Although this isn’t perfect, it will at least give you a bit of an idea on how far away you could expect the camera to record sound.
How Is Recording Sound at Home Useful?
Knowing that your home security cameras are recording sound as well as video gives you peace of mind more than anything.
It is reassuring knowing that your home has that extra bit of security in place, especially if you and your family are not at home.
Some people are familiar with how to avoid security cameras in the sense they can stay out of view, but it is much more difficult for them to conceal their voice. Even if someone is somehow able to avoid the frame of the camera lens, they may still be identified through their voice.
As we discussed earlier, it is difficult to tell if a camera has a built-in microphone from afar, so the criminal sneaking into your home could give themselves away just from talking.
Many home security cameras will feature two-way audio which can be a useful deterrent in you catch someone in the act trying to enter your property.
By using this feature you can make yourself known which is more than likely going to result in the intruder running away pretty fast; they are unlikely to still try and enter your property thinking you are there.