How to Record System Sound on Linux

Record Sound Linux Feature

One of the best parts about Linux is that as a creative workstation, it’s an incredibly viable contender. For audio creation, for example, there are some excellent industry standards available to users, like Audacity and Ardour, and overall, it’s a powerful and flexible system. This tutorial shows you how to record system sound in Linux, both from a microphone and your system, using Audacity and PulseAudio.

Installing Audacity

Audacity is available in a wide variety of distros. It’s generally available in the main repositories.

For Debian/Ubuntu/Ubuntu-based distro:

sudo apt install audacity

For Fedora:

sudo dnf install audacity

For OpenSuse:

sudo zypper install audacity

For Arch Linux:

sudo pacman -S install audacity
Record Sound Linux Dnf Audacity

If you prefer Snaps or Flatpaks, those are also both available as well.

flatpak install flathub org.audacityteam.Audacity


sudo snap install audacity
Record Sound Linux Flatpak Audacity

Installing PulseAudio Volume Control

This is the application you’ll be using to record audio from the system. It’s a great way to snag audio from videos, songs, or other media to use for a later date. If you’ve ever wondered how people get high-quality audio samples, this is one way to do it.

PulseAudio Volume Control is available in most major repositories. You’ll use the same commands as above to install it.

For Debian/Ubuntu/Ubuntu-based distro:

sudo apt install pavucontrol

For Fedora:

sudo dnf install pavucontrol

For OpenSuse:

sudo zypper install pavucontrol

For Arch Linux:

sudo pacman -S install pavucontrol
Record Sound Linux Dnf Pavucontrol

PulseAudio Volume Control is also available as a Flatpak but not as a Snap.

flatpak install org.pulseaudio.pavucontrol
Record Sound Linux Flatpak Pavucontrol

Recording Sound from a Microphone

With your microphone plugged in to your system, open Audacity. It should automatically find your hardware and open up ready to record.

Record Sound Linux Audacity Open

Just click the big red record button, and you’re recording. It’s as simple as that! Audacity is such a simple tool to use that it’s hard to go wrong.

Record Sound Linux Audacity Mic Record

Recording Sound from Your System

This one is a little more complicated. Hit the record button, just like above. This will start recording from your microphone. After you’re already recording, open PulseAudio Volume Control and navigate your way to the “Recording” tab.

Record Sound Linux Pavucontrol

Click on the drop-down menu that says: “ALSA plug-in [audacity]… from.”

Choose the option that says: “Monitor of Built-In Analog Stereo.” This will keep track of what information applications are sending to PulseAudio and record that rather than the sound coming in from your microphone.

From there, go ahead and play whatever sound you’d like, and you’ll see that sound showing up in Audacity as it plays. You can stop recording, scrub through playback, and treat whatever sound you’re recording just like any other audio input into Audacity.

Record Sound Linux Audacity System Record

I hope you learned a useful thing or two about Audacity and PulseAudio Volume Control. Now that you know how to record your system sound in Linux, make sure to check out some of our other Linux audio articles, such as improving your audio with PulseEffects, how to use ALSA utilities to manage audio from the terminal, and the essential tools for producing high-quality podcasts in Linux.

John Perkins
John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

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