Record Online Radio Streams as MP3 Using VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player flawlessly streams online radio programs to your computer. It’s easy and quick. Did you also know that VLC Media Player is great for saving online radio streams as MP3 files in your PC? You can record those streaming radio shows as audio files to listen to them later. This way you won’t me missing any online radio programs even if you are busy.

You can easily configuration VLC to download live radio shows to your computer while you are away or busy. Then, when you come back, you can tune in to the show without missing anything. This is one great feature that VLC has been providing to its users.

To record and save/download online radio streams as MP3 using VLC:

  1. Open an online radio stream from Media > Open Network Stream [Shortcut: CTRL + N]
    open-network-stream
  2. In “Open Media” dialog box, paste in your .pls or .m3u online audio streaming URL.
    open-media
  3. At the bottom of the “Open Media” dialog box you will find a small downward facing arrow right next to the Play button. Click on that arrow to bring up the streaming option. Then Click on “Stream”. The shortcut for this is ALT + S.
    vlc-stream
  4. “Stream Output” wizard will open. The source is already entered, so just hit the “Next” button.
    stream-output-wizard
  5. In “Destination Setup” make sure that your new destination is selected as “File”, then click on Add.
    destination-setup-file
  6. Immediately you will reach the file name selection box. Click on the “Browse” button to browse to a location where you will be saving your audio.
    target-file-browse
  7. In the save file dialog box, give a file name of your choice like radio.mp3 and click on save. Then click on Next.
    save-file-dialog
  8. Transcoding Options are displayed. We do not require to use transcoding on this. So uncheck the check box of “Activate Transcoding”. Press next to continue.
    transcoding-options
  9. The final step is “Option Setup”. Leave it as it is. Stream all elementary streams is left unchecked. Click on “Stream” button.
    option-setup
  10. Streaming will begin as soon as the connection with the radio show is established. This happens really quickly. You will know that your program is being saved by looking at the elapsed time in VLC’s controls. That just means that the number of seconds and minutes will add-on.
    streaming-confirmation
  11. After a certain amount of time, when you are done with recording the stream, from the VLC’s playing control bar hit the stop button to stop the saving of online audio stream.
    stop-streaming
  12. To listen to your show, navigate to the location where you saved the audio MP3 file. Just open it, preferably with VLC Media Player.

*Note: You are done with recording and downloading radio shows. Remember that not all online radios are legal to download. You should not record copyrighted programs that you do not hold the ownership of.

7 thoughts on “Record Online Radio Streams as MP3 Using VLC Media Player

  1. This is the AAC codec info for audio. AAC was throwing an error, it does work, but VLC has flagged it as experimental so you have to use the “strict=-2” switch to make the command work without errror.
    AAC is amazing. I have taken the audio quality as low at 16KB/sec for voice/talk radio and the quality is still better than AM Radio (while making a 218KB/minute file) I tried to reduce that down to 8, but it’s starting to get below “verizon digital cellphone on 1 bar” audio quality, so it looks like 16KB is as low as I can recommend pushing the AAC codec for voice, which makes a 116K/sec audio file.

    Here’s the AAC command for my script example:

    @echo off

    echo recording ARK Midnight to MP3…

    “C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe” “http://13743.live.streamtheworld.com/KLIFAM_SC” -I dummy –dummy-quiet –sout “#transcode{aenc=ffmpeg{strict=-2},ab=64,channels=1,samplerate=11025,acodec=mp4a}:std{access=file,mux=mp4,dst=D:\_Audio\ARK_Midnight_aac %date:~10%-%date:~4,2%-%date:~7,2%.mp3}” –run-time 60 vlc://quit

    echo recording of ARK Midnight with John B. Wells is complete…
    pause
    exit

  2. To harness the pure power of VLC, the GUI is kind of limited.
    I wrote a batch file to record a raw stream a live program I’m rarely home to hear, and download it to my hard drive for later listening. Once saved to the hard drive, you can use Windows task scheduler to start recording at the specific time. To stop the recording, change the numbers (seconds) after the –run-time command

    I hope this helps someone else:

    NOTE: this is for 64-bit VLC. if you are using 32-bit version, you will likely have to use the Program Files (x86) path unless you are still rocking XP or older…

    ———————–

    @echo off

    echo recording ARK Midnight to MP3…

    “C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe” “http://13743.live.streamtheworld.com/KLIFAM_SC” -I dummy –dummy-quiet –sout “#duplicate{dst=std{access=file,mux=raw,dst=D:\_Audio\ARK_Midnight %date:~10%-%date:~4,2%-%date:~7,2%.mp3}” –run-time 7200 vlc://quit

    echo ARK Midnight MP3 ready!

    echo Files Ripped to D:\_Audio. Enjoy!

    pause
    exit

    —————
    Output file in this example is ARK_Midnight 2016-08-03.mp3 (date stamped to give a unique name and make for a clean archive, and the date is set this way to give it a clean sort in Windows

    This will make for a large file. If you are trying to record something long, you will need to transcode it since my show is 2 hours long, and since it’s just talk radio, I mux it down to mono, 64K using the transcode command:

    @echo off

    echo recording ARK Midnight to MP3…

    “C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe” “http://13743.live.streamtheworld.com/KLIFAM_SC” -I dummy –dummy-quiet –sout “#transcode {acodec=mp3,ab=64,channels=1,samplerate=11025}:std {access=file,mux=mp3,dst=D:\_Audio\ARK_Midnight %date:~10%-%date:~4,2%-%date:~7,2%.mp3}” –run-time 7200 vlc://quit

    echo recording of ARK Midnight with John B. Wells is complete…

    pause
    exit

    ———————————-

    In my scenario, the source stream comes in at 80K stereo, and I’m taking it down to 64K mono, I am able to reduce the file from 1MB/min to 815K/min. Not a lot, but 20% space savings is well worth it to me, and the fidelity difference is negligible. If I get AAC encoding (MP4, amazing compression) working in VLC, I’ll be sure to post that as well.

  3. @ZM: My extension also got converted to MP4. Manualy renaming it to MP3 worked fine.

    @CRA: Does your stream play in VLC ? Try that first, just open the stream and try to play it. If it does not work, something is not correct in your url. Once you got it playing in VLC the “save stream” should work also.

  4. I have tried this numerous times with a .pls address (the station is running fine on their home page through a java player) and when I get to stage 10, nothing happens: the time remains –:– and no file is generated. I have tried different file output formats at stage 8 but no dice. What am I missing? I have VLC 2.2.1., Windows 10. Thanks very much for any help, it would be so great if I could take advantage of this VLC function …

  5. In my case, the chosen filename.mp3 is automatically renamed by vlc player to filename.mp4. Everything else works as is described in this instruction. My vlc version is 2.2.1

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