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Does A Dash Cam Record Audio? Capabilities & Legality Explained

Check out this guide to learn all about how a dash cam can record audio, when to use this feature, and when you might want to turn it off.

Key Takeaways

  • Dash cams oftentimes come with the ability to record audio – a feature with is turned on by default.
  • Inform passengers that the dash cam records audio to comply with consent laws in certain states.
  • Position the dash cam visibly, so passengers are aware of the recording, serving as passive consent.
  • Notify those outside the vehicle if the dash cam could capture their voices, respecting their privacy rights.
  • Adhere to state regulations and personal ethics when deciding to record audio with your dash cam.

Does a Dash Cam Record Audio?

A dash cam can record audio — if you purchase one with this kind of feature. Most dash cams will start recording sound based on a specific trigger and are generally inactive when the car is turned off.

a picture of a kingslim d6 dashcam in my windshield

Audio Recording in Dash Cams

Dash cams with audio recordings were made to add a bit of context to the video footage captured. With them, you can get the full picture of the scene playing out on the road or in your car, even at night.

When you enable audio recording, your dash cam is going to record video while collecting sounds recorded in and around the car with the help of a built-in microphone.

How to Turn the Dash Cam Audio Recording On

In most dash cams with audio recording, you’ll likely need to turn this option on in the Settings menu.

To enable audio recording, you should follow these steps:

  • Press the button behind the Settings icon to bring up the Settings menu.
  • Scroll down the Settings menu using the arrows until you find the option to record audio.
  • Toggle it on or off (depending on whether you want audio recording enabled or disabled).

Troubleshooting Audio Recording in Dash Cams

Sometimes, dash cams can still fail to record audio even if the option is turned on. Here’s what you can do to troubleshoot this issue:

  • Start recording to test whether the dash cam is capturing audio (in most models, there will be a blinking red light on the dash cam).
  • Check whether you’ve enabled recording in the Settings menu.
  • Make sure the memory card is properly inserted and functional and that it’s full.
  • Restart the dash cam and try to record audio again.

If, after following the steps above, your dash cam is still not recording audio, you should refer to the manufacturer’s manual or take it to a local specialist. The issue might be with the memory card, hardware, or even software running in the dash cam.

Situations When You Might Need Audio Recording On

The biggest advantage of having a dash cam is having irrefutable evidence of events happening in or around your car. Here are a few situations when you might need audio recorded:

1. In Case You Believe the Camera Missed the Action

If you believe an event is taking place outside the dash cam’s view, quickly switching on the audio may still help you get some evidence by capturing the sound.

Think of a situation where you’re parked, and someone comes up to you with a complaint. If they’re sitting by the side of the car, you might not get a clear shot of them, but you could record the conversation.

Alternatively, if you’re using lower-end models with poor audio and video recording, a neat trick would be to read out the license plate of the vehicle for it to be captured in audio.

2. In Case You Need Audio to Contextualize a Scene

Images we perceive from videos are subjective and based primarily on our experience with similar situations. You might find yourself struggling to find out what was happening in a video without audio, which can help you find the missing piece to complete the puzzle.

When to Disable Dash Cam Audio Recording

With audio recording comes the risk of capturing private conversations. It might seem strange to bring up privacy when the sole purpose of the dash cam is to record audio and video, but in some cases, the audio feature should be turned off:

1. When Discussing Something Private

If you’re talking about a sensitive topic in a car with a friend or family member, it’s better to mute the microphone. Even if you don’t plan on releasing the footage, it can provide everyone peace of mind. After all, the footage is stored on a memory card, and you never know where it could end up.

2. To Avoid Misunderstandings

Say you’re involved in a fender bender, and the insurance company asks for your dash cam footage. Audio footage may provide extra information that could be taken the wrong way like you making comments about the other driver or loud music that could distract you. This is especially useful if you’re driving while on the job.

3. To Maximize Available Storage Space

Dash cam footage with both audio and video takes up more space than that with video alone. If you want to keep the camera rolling for as long as possible, then it might help if you disable microphone recording from the dash cam.

Understanding Other Dash Cam Features

Video recording is the main purpose of a dash cam. It usually records hours on the road (and the interior of your car in some models) and makes the footage available for perusal for two weeks or more, depending on your device.

Here’s a brief rundown of two other dash cam features you may find useful:

G Sensors

In some dash cams, your vehicle receives a third eye, not only to record video but also to take note of sudden changes in the speed or acceleration of the car. In case of an accident, you inadvertently accelerate or brake, causing a change in the G forces exerted on the vehicle.

These can be picked up by the G sensor, which automatically saves the videos recorded immediately before and after the accident. These devices can make a difference in legal disputes, insurance claims, and many other circumstances.

Wi-Fi and App Support

In models with Wi-Fi and app support, you can access the microphone and camera on your camera from the comfort of your mobile device or any other device with internet capabilities.

This means you can remotely monitor whatever is recorded by the camera and microphone, switch them on, or mute the microphone independently of the camera.

Final Thoughts

On top of video recording, most modern dash cams allow you to record audio. Find the Settings menu on your dash cam and get started today!

Note that these cams can do a lot more than recording random events going on around your car. Like many other devices, dash cams quickly advance in technology and functionality. To find out about the features available at your disposal, you should refer to the manufacturer’s manual.

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