Security cameras record videos all the time, and I believe people are aware of that. But sometimes we need to listen to what's happening close to the camera, which raises the question "Do security camera record audio?"
The answer is, yes, security cameras can record audio if a microphone/audio input is available, and the video recorder has the necessary technology to handle the audio signal that comes from the camera.
People also use the term "CCTV cameras" instead of "security cameras" when asking questions. In this article, I use the word "security" to refer to cameras and surveillance systems, in general, to make everything simpler.
The technology x the law
It's important to understand that because the security camera has the technology to record audio, you are not necessarily allowed to do so.
Be careful when installing cameras that have microphones; don't enable the audio recording feature before making sure the local laws allow you to do that.
Now, let's talk about the technologies used for audio recording.
Audio recording on analog security systems
Yes, it's possible to record audio using analog security systems.
Please don't look at analog systems as being old and obsolete; this is a wrong concept people have when comparing analog to digital systems.
The analog systems are still popular around the world for small and medium projects that require simple and inexpensive installation.
In an analog system, the audio and video are digitized in the DVR (Digital Video Recorder), so it's necessary to connect the coaxial and audio cables from the cameras and microphones directly to the DVR's input.
The picture below illustrates this concept.
As you can see, the DVR has one audio input per camera.
For an 8-channel DVR, you can install eight microphones and associate each of them with its camera. The concept is very simple, isn't it?
Audio recording on digital security systems (IP)
Digital security systems are more popular these days.
But I'm not talking about these types of cameras designed to record in an internal micro SD card or a cloud service. They do record audio, but let's talk here about digital systems that use NVRs (Network Video Recorder).
These systems have IP cameras with internal microphones (depending on the model), and the audio is digitized before arriving at the NVR.
The picture below shows an example of such a system.
It's much easier to install IP cameras because you only need to connect a single UTP (network) cable to transport audio and video and power the cameras as well (if the security system kit has the PoE technology).
Recording audio on a digital system requires you only to buy a kit with IP cameras that have internal microphones, connect the network cable that brings all the data from the camera, and enable the audio recording on the NVR.
The audio range
Sometimes people get too excited about audio recording and don't pay attention to the real application for such technology, which makes the audio recording useless and a waste of money.
It's necessary to check where the security cameras will be installed to ensure the microphones can capture audio that will be recorded by the NVR.
The wrong places for audio recording
If your surveillance project requires security cameras installed on higher places such as poles or 5-story buildings, the camera's internal microphones won't be able to capture audio that far away.
The microphone is also useless in locations such as malls, parking lots, roads, and other places where the camera can't capture clear audio because of the noisy environment or the vast distances.
Good places for audio recording
Security cameras can record audio in indoor areas where people are talking without loud noises nearby such as banks, hotel lobbies, small stores, cashier and customer service areas, and other similar places.
If the installation of the cameras is not too high, the internal microphone would be able to capture clear audio and send it to the NVR.
Analog and IP security cameras can record audio using internal or external microphones as long as the feature is enabled on the DVR or NVR, and the camera is not installed too far away from people that are talking.
Before installing security cameras with microphones and start recording conversations, check the local law to make sure you won't get in trouble.
I hope this article can help you; please share it with your friends.
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Claudemir Martins is a former Samsung Engineer with 16+ experience in the surveillance industry. He has been traveling around 17 different countries to teach people how to design, and install CCTV systems.