It’s possible to add audio to an existing security camera system and the process involves some basic requirements. Additionally, the audio feature must be supported by your system.
In this guide, we will explain how you can add audio to a camera system (DVR or NVR), what kind of devices do you need and how to hook them up. It’s not difficult, it just needs the patience to read the instructions and manual of your CCTV system.
How to add Audio to a Security Camera
The most common CCTV systems are two types: DVR camera system or NVR camera system. The DVR system used a coaxial cable to transmit the data from the camera to the recorder and each camera needed to be powered separately.
The other system is an NVR system that uses IP security cameras. In this case, the data and the power are transmitted via the same ethernet cable (using PoE) and the camera gets plugged in either to the back of the NVR (if the unit has a built-in PoE switch) or to an external PoE switch.
It’s easy to tell if you own a DVR system, inspect the back of the recorder and if you see all BNC inputs, then it’s a DVR. If you see 4, 8, or 16 RJ45 ports, it indicates that it’s an NVR system (as seen illustrated below).
The way you can add audio to a DVR and NVR system is different. In the DVR system, you need to run a separate line for the microphone that goes to the recorder. On NVR systems, you can use an IP camera with a built-in mic, or hook up an external mic directly to the camera.
Adding Audio to a DVR security camera system
Adding a microphone to a DVR system involves running an Ethernet cable from the mic to the back of the DVR where it gets plugged into the “Audio IN” BNC port. If you want to hear the audio, you can add an external speaker by connecting it to the “Audio OUT” BNC port.
Additionally, you can use a TV/monitor that comes with a built-in speaker, or use your smartphone, or your computer/laptop. So, it’s not necessary to use an external speaker to the DVR, since there are other more convenient options to listen to the audio coming from the mic.
Requirements and Suggestions
1. The DVR must have an audio input at the back. Usually, it’s labeled as “Audio IN”; most of the DVRs contain at least one audio port, others may have 2, 6, or even 8 audio ports.
2. If Audio is plugged into Audio In (channel 1), DVR must be pulled up on channel 1 on Full-Screen Mode to hear live audio. It won’t work if you go any other window split (2×2, 3×3, etc), if you want to hear it, you have to go full screen to the first channel. If you have two audio ports, they’ll be linked to the first and second channel, and so on.
3. If you want to hear the audio through your monitor, then your TV/monitor should have built-in speakers. That way you can hear the audio on live or playback mode. If the monitor has no speakers, you can hook up an internal one to the “Audio OUT” BNC port of the recorder.
If you’re using a VGA monitor, run an audio cable from the “Audio OUT” port on your recorder to the “Audio IN” port of the monitor. If you’re using HDMI, the audio will be transmitted via the HDMI cable.
However, it may get complicated to install an external speaker. Just get a cheap TV with built-in speakers, or you use your phone, laptop, or computer to check the audio of the camera system.
4. Be careful not to run the audio cables close to the power wires (especially the high voltage ones), it will create inference and decrease the audio quality. Also, never install the mic close to a noisy appliance because you’ll not be able to hear anything.
CCTV Microphone Installation Instructions
Take a look at the diagram below to see what devices do you need and how to link them together. This is the case if the camera has an “Audio IN” on the pigtail, if not you can buy an external microphone. The connections and steps are still the same.
- Plug the power line from the microphone into Male Power on cable.
- Plug the Audio plug from the microphone into Male Audio on the cable.
- Plug the Female Power on the DVR side of the cable into the power adapter (12V DC). Plug the power adapter into the power outlet.
- Plug the Male Audio on the cable into Audio IN at the back of the DVR.
Note: Some Microphone kit cables come with audio and power only. Make sure you have all the necessary plugs. If your camera has no Audio IN cable, then just purchase an external mic and install it close to the camera. Ensure the camera and the mic are linked to the first channel (BNC 1).
Adding Audio to an NVR security camera system
In the case of an IP camera system (based around the NVR), all you need is to have IP cameras with built-in mics. There’s no need to run cables for the mic, or plug them to the back of the NVR, or match the camera and the audio. The mic is built-in inside the camera and will transmit the audio (and get powered) via the same Ethernet cable that the camera already uses.
There’s no limit to how many cameras can have audio on an NVR system, you can have as many as the number of the installed cameras. To hear the audio from each camera, you have to go full screen on that camera (live or playback).
Before purchasing an IP camera with a built-in mic, make sure to review the quality of the sounds. The more expensive the camera, the better the audio, but also you can find a camera with good audio and an affordable price.
Additionally, many IP cameras have extra settings such as the level of the audio, noise cancellation, etc on the settings with which you can play around.
In this guide, we talked about adding Audio to a security camera system. The process is not complicated, it just takes patience and you need to have the right equipment. Adding Audio to a DVR camera system may be a bit more complicated, you need to run a separate audio cable for the mic and use multiple female/male plugs to establish the connection.
Adding audio on an NVR system is much easier, all you have to do is to have an IP camera with mic built-in, have it enabled on the settings and it’s pretty much done. You can add as many cameras with a microphone as you want. Make sure to use reliable IP security camera systems.
Lastly, please refer to your state and local laws, and statutes, regarding audio surveillance, recording, and monitoring. It may be illegal to record audio, consult with a local lawyer to avoid any legal issues.