If you want to record a podcast with friends or interview people you cannot meet physically, don’t worry! Remote recording is a thing; it is even what drives some of the most popular podcasts. Let’s have a look at the software, processes and tips that may be useful.
Distance makes everything infinitely more precious.
Arthur C. Clarke
RECORDING QUALITY: THREE THINGS TO LOOK AT
When you record a podcast alone at home, or with your friends gathered in the same room, there are only two main elements to take into account in terms of sound quality: your equipment (especially your microphone) and your environment. Recording in a big room is not appropriate, just like recording with your windows open or next to a fridge.
But remote recording, especially with more than one guest, raises many problems. Each participant must choose the right microphone and environment. This situation is easier to deal with when you record a casual group podcast rather than when you interview a special guest; indeed, it is easier to demand or recommend things to a friend who is likely to feature in several episodes rather than to someone you barely know and who will be there just once.
Either way, here are guidelines to keep in mind:
- When it comes to sound quality, a microphone is always more important than a recording software. If you can, give your guest a decent microphone.
- If you can’t, remember that a smartphone often provides a better sound than a cheap microphone on a computer.
- As the environment chosen by your guest is as important as yours, advise him to choose an appropriate room, i.e. not too big and with no interferences.
When it comes to remote recording, the quality of the internet connection is more important. There is no easy solution if your guests have a poor connection; fibre optic or not, try to use a wired connection rather than WiFi. If possible, ask your partner not to watch Netflix nor any kind of bandwidth consuming stuff.
RECORDING YOUR OWN SOURCE: THE BEST SOLUTION
It is not easy of course, but it is the most appropriate option to get a perfect sound quality. It might be hard to impose on a guest for an interview though. However, for a group podcast, it is the solution to try before going for anything that would be more comfortable but less efficient.
How should you do? Ask the participants to download a recording software, ideally the same as yours – it will be easier to help them. Audacity is free, GarageBand is perfect for Mac addicts, Hindenburg is great for perfectionists… There are many options.
Once they have their software, all participants must record the sound of their own microphones. It is a great responsibility, as there can be technical flaws; so, during the conversation, they must keep an eye on the software to make sure the recording works properly. Don’t panic though; usually, this process goes without a hitch – as long as your partners are well prepared.
Once the recording phase is done, each participant must save its track and export it under the same format (preferably WAV). Then you use a file transfer software, like Dropbox, to collect the tracks and store them in one single file. Perhaps there will be gaps between some of the interventions, but these are details you can fix in one or two clicks.
OTHER SOLUTIONS: A REVIEW OF REMOTE RECORDING SOFTWARE
You want to have one guest or more on your show but you don’t feel like asking them to download any software and do not want to impose any rule. No problem: there are platforms that might be very useful.
Squadcast: specifically tailored for remote podcast
Squadcast is very user-friendly: it takes a few clicks for the host to start a session; he/she gets a link he/she sends to his/her guests, and that’s it. No software needed; the whole process is online. No need to sign up either, the shared link is enough.
What next? Squadcast records every participant on separate tracks that are automatically saved on the cloud. Once the session is over, the host downloads the files in his/her favourite format – either WAV or MP3. To be honest, the sound quality is very good.
That’s it for the pros, let’s review the few cons now – they are not that bad, really:
- Squadcast sessions can only gather a host and three guests (so 4 participants max.)
- It does not feature video recording
- It works on most browser except for Safari
- It works on Android smartphones but not iPhones
And as quality is not free (except for the 7-day free trial), it costs $9/month for the basic pack, which features only 2 hours of recording over the month. If you want more, then it costs $17/month for 5 hours, and $38 for 12 hours.
Zencastr: no charges at all
Like Squadcast, Zencastr records all participants individually and stores the tracks on Dropbox or Google Drive. The platform can sometimes be very slow, though these temporary technical issues (sometimes your precious files get lost) seem to be solved now.
How is it better than Squadcast or any other platform? Well, it is totally free. You can host sessions with two guests max and record up to 8 hours/month, free of charge. If you want an upgrade, you must pay $20/month; the $20-pack includes WAV files instead of MP3.
Zoom.us: the best for video conferencing
Zoom was not made for podcasting at first, but for video conferencing, it is why you cannot record audio files with the free pack. However, the platform – like StreamYard – is interesting for live video streamers.
Like the platforms above, Zoom does not require any software, as it works through a shared link. Each participant records his/her own track, which is stored and shared to the host through the cloud; Zoom woks on smartphones as well.
The sound quality is not that good with the default settings, but it can be improved with customised settings. The point is, if you don’t mind video podcasts, there are better solutions for you, especially as the entry pack costs about $17/month for 1 GB on the cloud (for MP4 or M4A files). In other words, Zoom is not very competitive.
Cleanfeed: more features, more expansive
Broadly speaking, Cleanfeed is quite classic; the host shares a link to his/her guests, no download needed, a web browser is enough. Files are stored in WAV and they are easy to collect.
All these services are free of charge and unlimited in terms of time and connections. The problem is that your chat will be recorded under one single file. If you want to record several tracks simultaneously, Cleanfeed happens to be more expansive than most platforms (about $33/month, and $20/month for the “discount” offer).
It is expansive indeed, but the platform will treat you with the greatest of care; it will delete echoes, provide you with higher sample rates and even control the volume and the mixing. It is up to you to see if you need such services.
Ecamm Call Recorder: for Skype lovers
Here is Ecamm Call Recorder, the perfect platform for Skype addicts and Mac users. You can record each participant on separate tracks. It is not the best solution in terms of sound quality, but it is perfect for occasional interviews.
Craig on Discord: a multitrack recording bot
You have read our bit on Skype addicts, but you are more of a Discord user. No problem, Craig has come to your rescue. However, note that tracks are recorded by default on the server, so you cannot be sure of what you get in terms of sound quality, especially compared to home recording.
Ringr: as if you were together… really?
Is it true, or just a commercial promise? Well, make your own mind up with the samples available on the Ringr website, or… try the platform for free for a month. If you like it, it costs $7.99/month for unlimited calls and storage, on both computers and smartphones. The only limit is that files are only available in Mono MP3… and there is no multitrack. If you want a “studio quality” with separate tracks, it costs $18.99/month.
You see, you are spoilt for choice. There is no perfect solution, it all depends on the type of podcaster you are, and on your priorities – quality sound, video features, low budget, etc.
Do the same as for the choice of your equipment; collect opinions on the internet, especially from the podcasting community, and compare them. Remember that most platforms offer free trial for a predetermined period (a week, a month, etc.) so you can explore all their features. So give it a try!
Edited by Podcastics • Community