Home » Security Camera Guides » Security Camera Troubleshooting » How to Tell If Security Cameras Have Audio: 5 Easy Methods

How to Tell If Security Cameras Have Audio: 5 Easy Methods

There exists a reasonable amount of confusion over audio recording and security cameras. 

Whether you’re worried about being recorded illegally in a public space or just want to check if your own security camera is capable of recording audio, read on to learn how to tell if a camera is recording audio through our five easy methods.

You can also jump right to our FAQ section for answers to your questions.

Do All Security Cameras Have Audio?

Most IP security cameras are capable of recording audio, though you can choose to turn this on and off.  

Two-way audio is also a common feature of security cameras that work with a phone.

How to Tell if a Security Camera Records Sound

Method 1: Overt Speaker

IP cameras share similar design traits, and most security cameras with audio will have an overt speaker on the back of the device. 

Of course, placement can vary, so it could be on the top or the underside of the device. The speaker looks like dozens of holes arranged in a shape.

The back of AlfredCam, with the speaker, micro SD card slot, and USB cable visible
The back of AlfredCam, with its speaker visible.

Though the microphone itself isn’t always contained within this cluster of holes, it’s still a strong indication that the camera has the ability to record audio. 

Can you hear on security cameras?

Users can hear what the security camera picks up if it has a microphone. IP security cameras commonly have microphones. Traditional CCTV, which uses coaxial cables to transmit data, doesn’t usually have audio, because the cables can’t natively transmit audio.

Method 2: Single Small Hole

Some microphones may be more subtle than others. If that’s the case, look out for a single hole, smaller in size than a pinhead. 

If there isn’t text printed next to it reading ‘reset’, this is guaranteed to be the camera’s microphone. Microphones are usually found on the front of security cameras, near the lens.

AlfredCam on a glass table
A single hole which is the camera’s microphone is right above the lens.

How far can a security camera record audio?

A security camera can pick up audio as far as 6 meters. To pick up low-level speaking, the camera will need to be within a couple of meters of the subject. Different camera models have different audio ranges, and placement will have a significant impact on the extent to which it picks up audio

Method 3: Serial Number

Conventional security cameras with audio, like those used in public spaces, won’t have obvious features like speakers on them. 

In fact, they may not have any native audio functions. You’ll find the camera’s serial number on a sticker, usually placed on the underside of the camera. 

A quick search for the serial number should reveal whether the model supports audio capture.

The underside of the Kasa Spot Pan Tily camera
A security camera’s serial number can usually be found on the underside of it.

Method 4: External Microphones 

If a serial number is impossible to find, checking for external microphones is your next best bet if you want to find out if you’ve got a camera with audio recording on your hands. 

CCTV that interfaces with a DVR/NVR (the kind you’ll find in most public spaces) usually doesn’t have native audio support. 

Hybrid connections can be used to facilitate audio transmission, but if the camera has no built-in microphone, audio recording is conducted separately. 

An example of a typical security camera external mic
An example of a typical security camera external mic, available on Amazon.

The microphone will be spherical or box-shaped, measuring a couple of inches in diameter. It may also appear as a kind of small stick at the end of a wire, which can be taped to the camera itself. 

If you spot something mounted that looks like a miniature smoke alarm with wires popping out of it, it’s likely an external mic.

Method 5: DVR/NVR Connections

Speaking of wires, another solid means of determining if audio recording is happening is to know what types of connections to look out for.

Most traditional CCTV uses coaxial cables (see below), which do not support native audio transfer. These are thick and difficult to conceal, so you’ll usually notice them being fed inside the wall where a camera is recording. 

An example of a coaxial cable from Amazon
An example of a coaxial cable from Amazon.

Hybrid coaxial cables are used for audio transfer (see below). 

An example of a digital audio-hybrid coaxial cable from Amazon
An example of a digital audio-hybrid coaxial cable from Amazon.

Ethernet cables can be used alongside NVRs. Unlike coaxial cables, these can natively transfer audio. They are much thinner wires, and you might recognize them from your broadband at home.

An example of an Ethernet cable from Amazon
An example of an Ethernet cable from Amazon.

Understanding the Laws Around Audio Recording

When and why is audio recording illegal?

The illegality of audio recording stems from a person’s right to privacy in places where it’s reasonably expected. 

Compared to video recording, audio recording is subject to much stricter regulations.

38 states, including New York and Texas, follow the ‘one-party consent’ rule which allows for conversations to be recorded with one party’s consent, but without telling the other party to the conversation.

That means the person choosing to record can do so without another person’s permission so long as they themselves are in the conversation.

Can you get security cameras without audio?

Traditional CCTV doesn’t natively support audio, since audio can’t be transmitted using ordinary coaxial cables. Modern IP security cameras usually support audio, but this can easily be turned off from the app used to control the camera. AlfredCamera devices, including AlfredCam, can be used without audio.

12 states, including California and Washington, do not allow recording of a conversation without the express consent of every party involved.

In some places, having signs that say ‘audio recording in progress’ may constitute implied consent from people entering the space.

If no one being recorded knows that they are being recorded, this can be tried under wiretapping laws.


Do outdoor security cameras have audio?

Most outdoor security cameras that work over the Internet support audio. This includes popular devices from Google Nest, Ring, Blink, and other leading brands. Audio can usually be disabled via the app linked to the device.

Can CCTV systems record sounds?

Fully integrated CCTV systems may come with external microphones that can be used to capture audio. Hybrid coaxial cables can be used to transfer audio to a DVR, or if the camera interfaces with an NVR, Ethernet cables can instead be used.

Is it legal to have cameras with audio in the workplace?

In California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington, it is illegal to have cameras with audio in the workplace unless express consent of all parties being recorded is obtained. 

Elsewhere, a one-party consent rule applies, where only one person being recorded must consent to it. If no one consents, this is wiretapping, which is subject to its own strict laws. 

Generally, however, a right to privacy does exist in the workplace, and it would be considered invasive to record all conversations of employees.

Is it legal to record audio on security cameras?

In other states, there exists a one-party consent rule, where only one person being recorded has to give express consent. If no one is informed that they are being recorded, then this can be tried as wiretapping.

Why do surveillance cameras tend to never have sound?

Traditional surveillance cameras rarely have sound because coaxial cables do not natively support audio. Aside from that, audio would create exceptionally large file sizes for 24/7 monitoring, so not recording audio is a useful means of reducing the file size. 

Laws about being recorded on video in public are generally much more relaxed than being recorded on audio, because audio recording can easily constitute wiretapping if there is no consent or knowledge of it being done. A reasonable expectation to be recorded on video exists in public spaces like stores, restaurants, and banks, but it doesn’t for audio.

Do shops record audio on their CCTV?

Shops rarely record audio on their CCTV. Aside from reducing file sizes and avoiding potential privacy violations, there simply isn’t much need to record audio for security purposes in a shop.

How do you know if a security camera is recording?

A security camera is on and recording if it has a light blinking. This is usually red, but may also be green, orange, or some other color. The light is known as a ‘status LED’. These can be used to communicate various states the camera is in. 

What does a red light on a security camera mean?


Audio recording remains unusual in public spaces. Reasonable expectations of video recording are universal in public, whereas audio recording isn’t. 

Wiretapping laws greatly predate video recording laws. Audio recording can be more invasive, creates unmanageably large files, and, above all, isn’t always that useful when it comes to security in public.