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How to record a podcast remotely

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Cartoon of podcasters remote recording a podcast

Recording your podcast with people in different locations

While the world is in lockdown there’s never been a more important time to reach out to your audience and stay connected.

So, if you’re planning to keep your podcast rolling but you can’t be in the same room as your guests and/or co-hosts you’ll need to think differently about how you record.

So how do you record your podcast remotely while still maintaining the best audio quality possible?

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What are your options for recording your podcast remotely?

There are a number of different ways to record your podcast remotely and the option that’s right for you will depend on what technology you have access to and how experienced the people on your show are with recording audio.

If you’re remote recording interviews you can get away with having your guest at a lower audio quality than you, but if you’re hosting your podcast with a co-host remotely you want to try and record both hosts at as similar audio quality as possible.

So, what are your options?

Option 1: Recording each person locally and matching up the audio in the edit

Option 2: Recording your show via a remote recording podcast platform

Option 3: Recording your show via Skype

Option 4: Using a mixer to record guests via phone

Now let’s look at what you need for each option and the benefits and disadvantages of each…

Recording audio locally

This means every person speaking on the podcast records their audio locally, where they are, via a portable recording device like a Zoom or audio editing software like Audition or Audacity.

What you need to record your podcast audio locally

  • Audio editing software or a recording device e.g. Zoom
  • A good microphone for everyone on the show unless you want a high-quality recording of crappy audio (Tip: you don’t)
  • A good recording environment at both ends i.e. away from tiles and hard surfaces
  • Additional software like Skype so you can hear (and see) each other while you record

Benefits

  • If you’re both recording using good quality podcast microphones and you’re both in a good recording space, this will yield the best quality audio possible.  In some cases, if the recording conditions are great at both ends, you can make it sound like you’re in the same room.

Disadvantages

  • It requires technical knowledge and equipment so it’s not something you’re likely to be able to do with guests unless they have a mic and a good understanding of recording audio
  • You need to match up the tracks manually at the end, which can be a bit fiddly (so don’t forget to clap when you start recording so you’ve got a visual marker that will help you line things up)
  • You need to run additional software to see and hear each other e.g. Skype
  • It can really impact the conversational chemistry

Pro tip

  • If you’re running Skype at the same time it’s likely some of the audio from your guest or co-host will ‘bleed’ out of your headphones and be picked up by your mic, which you don’t want.  When I’m recording like this I use earbuds to listen to my guest or co-host then put over-ear headphones over the top and plug those into my portable recording device.  That not only allows me to hear myself, which is important, but it helps cover up the sound of the Skype audio.
  • If you’re recording remotely it’s important to be able to see your co-host or guest so you can use visual cues and salvage as much natural conversational chemistry as possible
  • If you’re used to being in the same room as your co-host it might be worth doing a few practice goes so you can work out your new remote rhythm

How to record a podcast with people in different locations

Read

Record your podcast remotely via a website or app 

Since podcasting has increased in popularity and a lot of podcasters want to interview people in different parts of the country and the world, tech companies have stepped in to create platforms that make it easier to record audio locally e.g. Zencastr, Squadcast and Ringr.

These programs record the audio of each person where they are and sync up the tracks automatically so you don’t have to waste your time clapping or lining things up in post.

What you need to record your podcast remotely via a website or app

  • A good microphone at both ends
  • A good recording environment at both ends
  • A strong internet connection to prevent the conversation from dropping out
  • A video program like Skype to run simultaneously, unless you’re using a platform with built-in video like Squadcast
  • A paid subscription (some of the sites offer free membership but if you record a lot of audio you might need to move to a paid plan)

Benefits

  • It’s a much simpler way of recording audio locally (although not foolproof)
  • You can record high-quality audio without the need for a complex set up or a portable recording device
  • You don’t need to line up the audio tracks in the edit
  • The recording sessions are easy to set up and easy to share with a guest

Disadvantages

  • The quality of the experience is dependent on the strength of your internet connection.  When you’re talking to a guest you’ve never met before this can make things a bit difficult because it can disrupt the rhythm of conversation.

Pro-Tip

  • If your call is dropping out or sounding glitchy, if you can still make out what your co-host or guest is saying there’s often no need to stop and start again.  While this is really annoying it doesn’t usually affect the recording, but it definitely affects the flow of conversation.
  • It’s always best to do a trial of each website and see which one produces the best results for you and is easiest to use
  • If you only have access to guests with a phone and no microphone, recording via Ringr is probably the best option as it records them locally on their phone microphone rather than on the phone line

How to record high-quality audio at home

Read

Record your podcast remotely via Skype

This is the way podcast interviews have been recorded for years and it’s a totally acceptable way to get guests on your show.  While the latest version of Skype does have a recording option I use eCamm Call Recorder on my Mac (if you’re a PC user you’ll need a program called Pamela) because it allows you to split tracks and save as WAV, MP3 etc.

What you need to record your podcast remotely via Skype

  • A good microphone for the host but the guest can be on their phone (although if they have a good microphone that’s ideal)
  • A good recording environment at both ends
  • A strong internet connection to prevent the conversation from dropping out
  • A Skype account
  • Additional software to record audio e.g. eCamm for Mac, Pamela for PC
  • Skype credit if you’re going to be making phone calls

Benefits

  • It’s a program people are familiar with and will probably know how to use so it won’t be intimidating for guests who aren’t used to recording audio
  • You can make calls pretty cheaply
  • Audiences are used to hearing Skype quality audio on podcasts because shows have been recording this way for years
  • If you can only get a guest on the phone Skype audio will be slightly better than phone audio

Disadvantages

  • The quality of audio for your guest will be a lot lower than your audio quality
  • It requires purchasing an additional piece of software e.g. eCamm or Pamela

Pro-Tip

  • You can use this method to record high-quality audio for both guests if both people on the call have recording software installed on their computer.  If they do then both people will record the call, split the tracks after the record is done, discard the Skype call audio from both sessions and marry up the two high-quality audio files.  These audio files won’t be perfectly matched so you’ll need to clap at the beginning of the recording to make it easier to line them up later.

How to get the best quality podcast audio when remote recording

Read

Remote recording podcast interviews using a mixer

Most podcasters don’t have a mixer at home but if you do it can be an easier way to integrate phone calls and additional audio into your recording.

There are a lot of traditional mixers on the market, but there’s also a panel that’s been designed specifically for podcasters called the RODECaster Pro which can be great for a home studio.

Basically a mixer just gives you more flexibility in terms of what you can record because it allows you to input audio directly into the device rather than faffing around with a bunch of different programs or editing things in later.

For example, if you’re recording a phone call, rather than using Skype you could just plug your phone into your mixer and the audio of the call will be picked up by your audio editing software.

What you need to remote record podcast interviews using a mixer

Benefits

  • You have much more flexibility over what you can record because you don’t have to run multiple programs or edit things in later

Disadvantages

  • The equipment can be expensive and when you’re just starting out so you might not be able to justify the price

Pro-Tip

  • If you’re looking to buy a mixer opt for one that gives you the ability to record audio on separate tracks.  This will give you more control in the edit.
  • If you’re recording people on the phone it’s always a good idea to record via an app that uses data e.g. Whatsapp audio, FaceTime etc rather than a phone line.  To most people’s ears, they won’t be able to tell the difference but you’ll get marginally better audio if you record this way rather than via a phone line.
  • Just because a cable looks like it’ll fit your device doesn’t mean it’s going to work.  If your audio software isn’t picking things up it’s often because you haven’t got the right cable.

Do you need a mixer for your podcast?

Read

What remote recording option gives you the best audio quality?

To recap, when you’re recording your podcast remotely, this is the sliding scale of audio quality…

Best: Recording your podcast audio locally

Providing everyone has a good microphone and is recording in a good audio environment you can record a show that sounds like everyone was in the same room even if you’re miles apart.

Recording your podcast remotely via a remote recording platform 

This is only a step down on the audio quality scale because of the reliance on a strong internet connection to prevent audio dropping out.  If everything works perfectly, everyone has a good microphone and is in a good recording space, this should yield audio quality on par with recording locally.

Recording audio remotely via an app

Most people’s ears might not pick up the difference but in my experience recording via apps/data gives you marginally better audio quality than audio recorded over a phone line.

Worst: Recording audio remotely via a phone line 

The quality of this audio is dependent on reception and whether people move around so in the worst circumstances it can be really bad.  If this is the only option you have I’d advise doing some research on how to clean up phone audio in your editing software after the call is recorded so you can make sure it sounds as good as it possibly can.

I hope that’s helped you get your head around your options for recording your podcast remotely.

Stay safe and keep showing up for your listeners.  We’re all in this together.

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!

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