Most security cameras have audio capabilities, which adds an additional layer of insight into what is happening in and around your property.
If you’re considering investing in a security camera that records audio as well as video, there are some factors to think about before making the final decision. Do all security cameras record audio, and is it legal for them to record sound?
This comprehensive guide answers these questions and offers additional tips to help you choose the best security camera for your needs. We’ll also explain how audio-enabled security cameras work and how you can integrate them into your smart home setup.
How can you tell if a security camera has audio?
Security cameras are a must for any home since they’re the best way for you to keep an eye on your valuables and loved ones. But if you want to do more than just watch what’s happening, that’s where security cameras with audio capabilities come in.
With the ability to capture sound as well as video, audio security camera systems give you a complete picture of what’s happening around your property and allow you to capture additional information that might improve your home’s security. So, how can you tell if a security camera has audio?
Here are 5 ways to find out:
Let’s be neighbors.
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Method 1: Read the manual
If you’re wondering whether a security camera has audio capabilities or not, the first (and perhaps easiest) thing to do is check the device’s user manual.
Most manufacturers will state the exact specifications of any built-in microphones and speakers that your home security system has.
Method 2: Perform a quick visual check
Another easy way to check whether your security camera can pick up sound is to check for a microphone located somewhere on the device.
The audio input’s location can vary depending on the model. In some cases, it might also have text printed somewhere on it indicating where the microphone is.
Method 3: Check the serial number on the device
If you don’t have the manual and aren’t able to visually locate a microphone on your security camera, then as is often the case: Google likely has the answer. Find the serial number (usually printed on the back or bottom of the device) and look it up online.
A quick search should be enough to find your security camera’s full specifications, including sound recording capabilities. Some security cameras, like those offered by Vivint, even feature two-way talk capabilities.
Method 4: Check DVR/NVR connections
If a camera has an external microphone, it will typically have certain audio recording cable inputs or attachments that enable it to record audio.
Hybrid Coaxial or Ethernet cables are used for audio transfer, while traditional coaxial cables don’t usually support audio. So, if the latter is the only kind you see on your device, it isn’t going to record audio.
Method 5: Contact support
Sometimes the best way to get an immediate answer to your product question is to reach out and ask. Our Smart Home Pros are always ready to help you with any questions you might have.
Whether you need help using your device, operating your home security system, or could use professional installation help, give us a call for assistance.
Which security cameras typically do not have audio?
While most modern home security cameras have audio capabilities, this is not always the case for the DVR/NVR cameras typically used in public places like stores and similar commercial settings.
These cameras are often part of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system, which is typically hardwired using coaxial cables that do not support audio transmission. That’s why CCTV cameras don’t tend to have audio capabilities.
While it’s possible to add audio to a DVR/NVR camera setup with additional cables and devices, this can add complexity and cost to the installation process.
Plus, it’s important to ensure that any audio and video recording is in compliance with local laws and regulations around surveillance and privacy.
Is it legal for security cameras to record audio?
Before you hit that record button on your hidden camera, it’s important to find out whether there are any laws in your area against recording audio with a surveillance camera.
Most of the time, recording audio and video of any party is fine. But expectation of privacy law dictates that recording in any place where someone would reasonably expect privacy, like a bathroom or hotel room, is illegal.
Some states, counties, and cities have special laws regarding what a security camera can and can’t record. If you live in one of these 15 states, check your local laws for specific information:
The laws around audio recording can vary depending on where you live, so it’s important to make sure the camera you want to install complies with your local laws. Often, these will require either one-party or two-party consent.
Most states only require one-party consent for audio surveillance systems, meaning that just one person being recorded must consent to it. That’s easy to accomplish if you’re one of the subjects being recorded, whether you’re recording a phone call or a security video.
But 11 U.S. states require two-party consent, which means that all parties must consent to be recorded. These states are:
Security camera audio recording capabilities
The quality of the audio recorded by your home security camera depends on a number of factors, including the quality of the microphone and how close it is to the subject being recorded.
Typically, the closer someone is to the microphone, the better the sound quality will be. But most security cameras can pick up sound from a distance of up to six meters. To cover a larger area, consider connecting an external microphone. This can allow you to capture high-quality audio from further away.
What’s better than a security camera that can record audio? One that lets you answer back.
Two-way audio functionality can come in handy in situations such as talking to your kids or elderly family members who need care while you’re away or letting unwelcome lurkers know you’re watching them.
Security camera systems with two-way audio have both built-in microphones and speakers so that you can listen and talk in real time. If you’re looking for the perfect security camera with two-way audio to fit your needs, Vivint has plenty of options for you to consider.
How is security camera audio stored?
Smart home security cameras do more than allow you to view real time footage of your property through your mobile device, computer, or tablet. It’s also recorded and stored remotely, allowing you to access it later.
That’s because most modern WiFi camera systems use cloud storage to store data. This means that all audio and video footage recorded from your security camera system is automatically uploaded and backed up on a remote server that you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.
Learn more about the leading security camera systems from Vivint
Our Indoor Camera has a built-in speaker and microphone, a wide field of view, night vision, and full 1080p HD resolution. For protection on the outside of your home, consider our Outdoor Security Camera. It has two far-field mics that limit echoes and an alert system to deter burglars.
Vivint also offers a doorbell camera that combines the features of both indoor and outdoor cameras. The Vivint Doorbell Camera has a wide field of view, night vision, and 1080p HD resolution, allowing you to see and speak to anyone who comes to your door from your smartphone.
It also has motion detection, which sends you an alert when someone approaches your door. With Vivint's Doorbell Camera, you can keep an eye on your front porch and maintain control over your home's security.
If you have any questions about our smart home security cameras or need help deciding on which audio-enabled option is right for you, contact our friendly Smart Home Pros at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation today.
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Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.
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Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.
Vivint Systems & Services
System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.