How to record a podcast with people in different locations




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How to record a podcast with people in different locations

If your podcast features more than one person, whether it’s a co-host or guest, there’ll be times when you won’t be able to record in the same room.   In fact, if you’re putting together an interview show, schlepping your recording equipment around town will quickly become an unsustainable pain in the butt, particularly if your podcast isn’t pulling in any cash.

If you host your show with someone else I would suggest recording separately as a last resort for reasons I’ll cover next week.  But if you’re doing interviews, recording your guests remotely can make things a heck of a lot easier.

Organising someone to interview every week for a podcast is hard work, particularly if you’re basing your search on who’s within driving distance rather than who can provide the best value for your audience.  And while recording in the same location will always yield the best audio quality and conversational chemistry, the tech is so good these days you can record a professional sounding podcast even if your guest is coming to you ‘live’ from the Arctic tundra (provided the Arctic tundra has good internet access…which it probably doesn’t, but you get my point).

So if you want to broaden your horizons and make your show truly location independent, here’s how to do it…

Record your show via Skype

People new to the podcasting game assume Skype wouldn’t be professional enough to record a show and that’s probably because they think of it as something they use to ring their parents, as opposed to a serious broadcasting tool.

The truth is Skype is not only convenient, it’s become the industry standard for a lot of the major interview-based podcasts out there.

ecamm call recorderSince the call isn’t recorded within Skype itself, you’ll need to download (and pay for) a separate program if you want to get your hands on the audio.

If you’re a Mac user you’ll need Ecamm’s Call Recorder (pictured) and if you’re a PC kid then Pamela is for you.  Both of these programs capture the video and audio of your conversation from the moment you press record.

As a Mac lover I’ve only used Ecamm but I find it works really well.  Plus it comes with its own set of movie tools so you can convert your files from .mov to .mp3 just by dragging and dropping them into the folder.

A different kind of drag and drop

Having both the video and audio on file is also handy if you want to have the option of editing a video together to use as a promo for your episode.  Just make sure you’ve expressly asked your guest’s permission to use the vision because most people assume the audio is the only thing that will see the light of day.  And there’s nothing worse than turning up for a chat in your pyjamas, only to find out you’re supposed to be ‘camera ready.’

If they’re ok with video being used, ask them if they’d consider recording a promo for the show.  This is basically ten seconds where they’ll talk straight down the barrel of their webcam and tell your audience what they’ll be discussing and why people should listen e.g.  “Hi, this is (insert impressive name here) and this week I’ll be joining (insert your name here) on (your incredibly popular podcast) to talk about (something that will wow the pants off your audience).  I hope you’ll join us.”

This can be a great way to promote your episode via your blog or social media and visually brings to life a conversation your audience usually only gets to experience in their ears (read more about using video in your podcast here).

As long as you’ve got a good internet connection and decent microphones you can record a professional sounding interview using the same thing you chat to your mum on.

Record your show via Google Hangouts

I don’t have experience with this personally since I’ve always used Skype, but if you’re all about hanging out in Google I’ve heard of people recording podcasts this way with success.

Like Skype, you can’t record hangouts (unless you broadcast them live on Google+ or on your YouTube channel).  But since you don’t want your chat going out into the world in all its unedited glory, you’ll need to record it using a program like Camtasia for PC and Screenflow for Mac.

I can’t give you much direction on the type of audio quality this throws up because I haven’t used it but from what I’ve seen (and heard) using Skype, I’d honestly recommend going with that (unless you’re so in love with Google Hangouts you wanted to marry it).

Each person records their own audio

Whenever you’re recording someone on Skype, one person (the person recording the audio) will always sound better than the other (the person coming down the line via Skype).  One way to combat this is for each person to record their audio locally i.e. where they are.

This means both parties listen to each other and chat via Skype but record their audio via a microphone plugged into a portable recorder like a Zoom, or an audio editing program like Adobe Audition.  At the end of this process, you’ll have two separate audio tracks that will need to be synced up in the edit.

If you’re new to audio editing and the previous paragraph gives you heart palpitations, don’t worry.  This is more of an advanced option for audio nerds and most of the podcasts out there, getting millions of downloads and making millions of dollars, don’t bother doing any of this.  It’s purely an option if you want it to sound like you and your guest are in the same room.

If you want to experiment with it, make sure you record your guest (or your mum if she’s helping you test it out) counting down so you can sync up the audio later.   If you countdown from 15 you’ll have plenty of time to match up the audio, or you could just do what they do in the movies and both clap into your mic at the same time.  This clap or countdown gives you a visual way to line up the audio tracks when you’re editing them together later.

Record using Zencastr

Zencastr has stepped in to make the process of recording audio locally waaaaay easier. Designed specifically for podcasters, all you do is login to the website (your guest will need to login as well) and it records each person’s audio locally then places the tracks in a dropbox folder, ready for you to cut together.

The only limitation with this method is you can’t see each other which is ok (but not ideal) if you’re interviewing someone but a punish if you’re trying to bounce off a co-host.  An easy fix is to run Skype simultaneously with your mics muted so you can use the vision to interact while Zencastr does its magic in the recording department.

Aaaaaand that’s all there is to recording your podcast remotely!

No doubt, as the tech improves, recording on opposite sides of the world will eventually sound like you and your co-host or interview subject are staring into each others eyes from the comfort of a professional recording studio.

But until then, next week I’ll cover how you can make sure the podcast you record via Skype is as high quality and professional as possible.

Got any tips for recording remotely?  Leave a comment below.



  1. Jamie says:

    Hi Rachel,

    What would be the best way to do a live radio show from two seperate locations and sound like we are both in the one location??

    1. rcorbett says:

      Hey Jamie. Thanks so much for the question. Do you mean radio show or podcast? If you mean radio show then the techs will need to link up the studios which is a level of technical expertise that’s above my pay grade 😉 However if you’re talking about a podcast i.e. a recorded show rather than live, my answer is to use Zencastr (https://zencastr.com/). I’m not spruiking their wares because I’m getting a kickback from them, I’ve just used it and been really impressed with how simple it is. Prior to them coming on the scene the best way to sound like you were in the same room was for you and your co-host to record your audio locally i.e. where you are and then for one of you to cut that audio together. That’s a relatively simple process (though not without its frustrations) if you’ve worked a lot with audio but if you were new to the game it was a pain in the butt, so Skype was the better option, which of course meant unequal audio quality. Zencastr was offering their service for free for a while as they were testing the platform but now they’ve ironed out the kinks and gotten feedback from users it’s a paid service and if you really want to sound like you’re in the same studio, this is the way to go. You and your guest log into the website and they do the hard work for you recording the separate audio from each location and then putting it into a drop box folder for you so you can download it and edit from there. Naturally, you and your guest/co-host will still need decent microphones at your end but it’s a great new tool that makes things a lot easier than it used to be. If you want to hear what it sounds like you can check out this episode of the podcast, ‘Humans of Twitter’ where I was a guest (https://decidertv.com/page/2016/10/25/humans-of-twitter-episode-178-rachelcorbett) – we recorded this in separate locations using Zencastr so you can see what it sounds like. Hope this helps! Rach

  2. Nick Burgess says:

    Rach, a quick question. My podcast is a series of interviews with random guests. The easiest thing would be to call them on the phone like a good old fashioned radio show. i dont need to see them, just to hear them down a landline (preferably). i need to assume my guests have nothing more than a phone. is there any easy way to do that in a podcast ? Thanks, Nick

    1. rcorbett says:

      Hey Nick. Thanks so much for the question. I’ve always used Skype to do this. You record things exactly the same way as I mentioned in the article except instead of dialling them via their Skype name, you dial their phone number. As this isn’t a free service you will have to buy credit on Skype but it’s really cheap so it’s not like you’ll be burning through a second a minute like we used to in the old days 😉
      Audio quality is obviously a little lower because it’s on a phone but it works just fine and if you’re using Ecamm call recorder for Mac you’re able to use the audio tools to split the tracks so you can isolate both your audio and the audio coming from your guest. Hope this helps! Rach

  3. Nick Stan says:

    SO I’m trying to record via skype, I have a Mac and he has a PC, do we need to get both programs? Can one just record?

    1. rcorbett says:

      Hey Nick! It depends on what you want to achieve. If you want it to sound like you’re in the same room you’ll both need to download the recording programs because you’ll both have to record locally and then put the audio together BUT if you don’t mind if it sounds like he’s down the line on Skype then you only need to record from your end. If the other person is your co-host rather than your guest I’d suggest it’s always best if you sound like you’re in the same room together. Hope that helps! Rach

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