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How do you record your podcast with people in different locations?

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World map with illustrations of people in different locations

The art of recording your podcast remotely…

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.

Recording in the same location will always yield the best audio quality and conversational chemistry but the tech is so good these days you can still put together a professional sounding podcast 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…

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Record your show via Skype

A lot of the most successful independent podcasters use this method because it’s simple, reliable and delivers good audio quality.

Benefits

It’s familiar to people

Since a lot of people have used Skype you won’t have to waste valuable time getting your guest up to speed on how to use the tech.

This also means you won’t run the risk of intimidating them or making them feel nervous because they’re using a program they haven’t used before.  This is great because the more relaxed your guest is the more likely you’ll have a good interview.

You can see each other

Not being in the same room as someone you’re recording with can be difficult.

This is because you lose the natural conversational rhythm that comes from sitting across from another human.

Being able to see each other means you can wrestle some of that chemistry back by using the video function to communicate visually.

It’s simple to use

Skype’s an easy program to use and recording via Skype’s built-in recorder or web tools like eCamm’s Call Recorder for Skype is easy even if you’re a beginner.

People are used to hearing shows recorded this way

Podcasters have been recording interviews via Skype since the beginning of podcast time so listeners are used to hearing a slightly lower level of audio quality.

This means your show isn’t going to come off as half-baked if you use this recording method.

How to make your show sound professional when recording with Skype

Read

Disadvantages

Mismatched audio quality

Unless you both record locally (more on that below) one person will be recorded at a lower quality than the other.

This isn’t a total disaster but you should make sure the person leading the show is always the one with the higher quality audio.  Otherwise, it sounds a little weird.

How to cover up recording in different locations

Read

How to do it…

The good news is Skype recently added recording capabilities to their latest version so you can record within the program itself.

If you’re coming at this for the first time give that a try and see how you go.  But I tend to use the old school method because…old habits die hard.

Some may argue there’s no point even talking you through it when you can record in Skype but so many podcasters still use this technique it’s worth mentioning.

The programs you would traditionally record with are Ecamm’s Call Recorder for Skype (Mac) or Pamela (PC).

As a Mac kid, I’ve only used Ecamm but I’ve always found it simple and reliable.

When you open up Skype a little recorder automatically pops up on your screen and it’s as easy as pressing record.

Ecamm call recorder for Skype

The program records both the audio and video and saves it as a movie file (.mov).  Then you just use the tools that come with the program to convert the file from .mov to .mp3 (audio).

That may sound difficult but it’s as easy as dragging and dropping.  Plus you can split the audio tracks which means you end up with one audio file for each voice.

This is really helpful when it comes time to edit and gives you a lot more control over the audio.

How to record high-quality audio at home

Read

What can you do with the video?

Using vision from your chat can be a great way to promote your podcast.

Just make sure you’ve asked your guest’s permission because there’s nothing worse than turning up for a chat in your pyjamas, only to find out you’re supposed to be ‘camera ready.’

Or, heaven forbid, thinking the chat was purely for audio and then seeing your face blasted across someones social media when you never agreed to it.

If your guest has said yes why not use the vision to create promos that highlight interesting moments from your conversation?

Or ask your guest to record a promo where they talk directly down the barrel of the camera and tell your audience what’s on the episode and why they should listen.

If you’re going to do this it’s best to record straight after the chat when everything is fresh in your minds.

For example…

“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 bring to life a conversation your audience usually only gets to experience in their ears.

Should your podcast be audio or video?

Read

Each person records their own audio

As I mentioned above, when you’re recording 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. in the location they are.

You can do this a couple of ways but in both cases, you’ll use Skype to look at each other so the conversation flows as naturally as possible.

Benefits

Better audio quality

Recording this way, provided both people have good microphones and recording environments, can yield great audio quality.

It’ll also make it sound like you and your podcasting partner in crime are in the same room even if you were on opposite sides of the planet.

Disadvantages

It’s more complex

Recording this way requires audio experience from both people and it’s best when you’re recording regularly with a co-host rather than interview guests.

If you’re using this method make sure you take some time to do some trial and error so you can iron out any kinks.

How to record high-quality audio at home

Read

How to do it…

Record audio locally 

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.

You can also do this using a program like eCamm as long as both people have the program installed locally.  Using this method you just hit record at both ends, split the audio tracks when you’re done and match up the two high-quality ones.

If you’re new to audio editing and the previous paragraphs give you heart palpitations, don’t worry. This is more of an advanced option if you want it to sound like you and your guest are in the same room.

Just remember when you’re syncing up the audio after the record, you’ll need a visual marker to see where to line up the tracks.  The easiest way to do that is for everyone to clap at the beginning of the recording.

This will look like a spike in the .wav or .mp3 file and will give you a way to match the audio.

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 so an easy fix is to run Skype simultaneously (with your computer mics muted so you don’t hear screechy feedback).

Now that you’ve read about this you might be thinking “why did you bother telling us about all that clapping and splitting tracks?  This seems heaps easier!”  And in theory, it is.

The problem is if you don’t have rock solid internet, this method can get a little glitchy.

This won’t affect the final audio because both parties are being recorded locally but it will affect the rhythm of conversation if you or your co-host are cutting in and out.  And that can be the difference between a great and terrible conversation.

Aaaaaand there you have it!  That’s all there is to recording your podcast remotely!

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? 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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