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Looking at detecting sound until some silence occurs, I arrived at the command rec recording.flac rate 32k silence -l 1 0.1 3% 1 3.0 3%.

I realize my specific use would be somewhat different: I do want to record until some silence is detected, but I also want an upper limit, say 10-15 seconds, of how long the recording will go on before moving on. I can just prepend a timeout 15s command, which would give me a maximum speech time of (15 seconds - leading silence, which will vary), but is there some way to tell sox I only need the first x seconds of a recording, which would give me a maximum speech time of 15 secs regardless of leading silence?

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You can use the trim effect; e.g., trim 0 15 will pass through only the first 15 seconds of audio. You can put it before or after silence:

  • If before silence, that effect will only “hear” 15 seconds and possibly output less, if there was silence to be removed from that 15 seconds.
  • If after silence, trim will “hear” the audio with silence already removed and stop after 15 seconds of non-silence.

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