How to Hook Up a Voice Recorder to a Phone Line

By Milton Kazmeyer

Recording business calls is not difficult, but it can be a legal minefield.
i Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Hooking up a voice recorder to your phone is a relatively simple process. Whether you need a permanent installation that automatically records all your business’s calls, or a device to allow you to document occasional transactions on your cell phone, there are simple solutions to fit your needs and budget.

Telephone Recorders

The simplest option is a dedicated telephone recorder. These devices are just like standard voice recorders, and come in digital or analog models. Telephone recorders have a pair of RJ11 jacks built into them, and you simply disconnect the phone line from your telephone, plug it into the device, and run another cord from the recorder to the telephone. Some feature voice activation, or allow you to record calls manually with the push of a button. Dedicated recorders are easy to use, but they can be expensive, and generally are not good for other recording tasks.

Pass-Through Connectors

If you already have a suitable recording device, you can connect it to the phone line using a pass-through connector. These devices include a pair of RJ11 phone jacks, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. You simply connect the device in the same way you would connect a dedicated recorder, and then run a cable from the 3.5mm jack to the line in jack on your recorder. These devices are versatile, since you can use any type of recorder you like, but they require you to activate the recorder manually every time you want to document a call.

Cell Phone Recorders

If you want to record business calls on your cell phone, there are many different products available. Depending on your cell phone make and model, you may be able to download an app to record calls directly to your smartphone’s memory, or connect an external recording device through the phone’s headphone jack. If you have your own recorder, you can use a telephone pickup, a specially designed earbud you wear while talking on the phone. Connected to the line in or microphone jack of a recorder, a telephone pickup can clearly record both sides of a cell phone conversation with minimal loss of audio quality.

Legal Issues

Before you record any business conversations, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with your state’s wiretapping laws. In some states, only one party to a conversation must be aware of the recording, but in others, you must notify the other party that you are taping the call. In addition, if your business call crosses state lines, you may have to notify the other party even if your own state laws allow single-party recording.