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PodSchool Podcast | How to record a podcast with people in different locations

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The art of remote recording your podcast

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 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 remote record your podcast…

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Remote recording your podcast 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 feels 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 inbuilt 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 podcast interviews remotely 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 method to remote record your podcast.

How to make your podcast 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’ll sound 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.

It’s also important to note Skype’s inbuilt recorder only records Skype to Skype calls, not calls to mobiles.

Ideally, you won’t be co-hosting a show with someone on a phone anyway but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re calling guests for interviews.

To record using a third party program you’ll need to download Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype (for Mac) or Pamela (for PC).

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

When you open up Skype using eCamm a little recorder 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 that file from .mov to .mp3 (audio).

That may sound difficult but it’s as easy as dragging and dropping the files.  Plus you can split the audio tracks which means you end up with one audio file for each voice.  This is helpful when it comes time to editing because it gives you a lot more control over the audio.

How to get callers on your podcast

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.

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

Should your podcast be audio or video?

Read

Remote recording your podcast by recording audio locally

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.

How to make editing easier when you’re recording a podcast

Read

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 get the most out of your podcast interviews

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 up the audio.

The four things you need to start a podcast

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Remote recording your podcast using Zencastr or Ringr

There are some amazing websites out there now making the process of remote recording your podcast so much easier.

With both Zencastr and Ringr you invite guests to join a session and each person’s audio is recorded locally then saved for you to use later.

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 method 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.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the show. One of the questions I get asked more than any other is how do you record an episode of your podcast if the people on the show aren't in the same room. Sometimes your show can just be you as a host but you want to interview a lot of people and often those people will be not in the same city let alone the same country as you. So how do you go about recording that person? Or sometimes you and your co-host might need to do a show from separate locations so how do you actually manage that?

[00:00:33] Here are some ways that you can record your show so it sounds good even though you're not in the same room.

[00:01:14] Skype

[00:01:14] By itself Skype can't record the call so you have to download an additional program which is called Ecamm Call Recorder for Mac and Pamela for a PC. (You can just head to the show notes page at PodSchoolPodcast.com and I'll detail links to all of the things that I refer to in today's episode). So once you install that program it gives you a little record button that pops up every time your call starts on Skype and you can just record that and download it after the call is finished. Ideally, it would be great if your guest had a decent microphone not just their iPhone earbuds because that can be a little bit crappy but if they don't have one you can make do.

[00:02:05] The next step up from that, if you want it to sound like you're in the same room, is that you can get them to put recording software on their computer and you can both record your audio "locally," which means - where you're sitting and then you match up that audio after. ECamm gives you the option when you go into the file to split the tracks (one that was recorded locally and one that is the one that sounds like someone coming down a telephone line) and you just put the two local files together so it sounds like you're doing the show in the same room.Obviously having Skype there is great because you can still see each other and put your hand up if you need to talk and try and get as much of the chemistry that you would have if you were in the same room. If you're going to do that it's important to clap at the beginning because you're going to have to match up that audio later.

[00:03:37] Record locally on a recording device

[00:03:45] If both you and your cohost or you and your guest have a recording device e.g. Zoom or if you just record onto your computer straight into Audition you can both do that at your end, use Skype to look at each other and then send whoever is editing the file that you've recorded either onto your zoom recorder or whatever you use or into audition and then you can match the audio tracks that way. And again with that, you need to clap at the beginning so it's easier to match those files.

[00:04:18] Zencastr

[00:04:21] I have had good and bad experiences with Zencastr. This should be the absolute solution to all of your problems because essentially all you do is log into a website and it records you at each end so it will record both you and your guest locally and drop those files into a Dropbox folder when you're done. It will sync up the start of those files immediately so you don't have to clap just as soon as you press record from your end it will immediately create the two files starting at exactly the same spot so it is really simple. The problem is you can't see each other. But again you can use Skype to look at each other and then record using Zencastr. Unfortunately, I found in the past that I've either had great experiences with it where it's worked flawlessly or I've had some really bad tries where it's continually dropped out or I've been listening to somebody talking and it's gone silent. Then it sort of caught up really quickly and that can be very jarring. I've had good and bad experiences with it but it's certainly worth trying.

[00:05:38] I believe you can get a free trial of it for a short time. So it's definitely worth giving it a try and seeing if you like it. A couple of other suggestions are also put on the show notes page at PodSchoolPodcast.com are Ringr and Cast. I haven't used either of those programs but I've seen them recommended when people are asked about this same situation and usually those programs are recommended by people who haven't had a great experience with Zencastr. See which ones you like and which ones work best for you and then take it from there.

[00:06:15] I hope that's helped you get your head a little bit around how to record remotely. As I said I will put all of this in the show notes page so you can see it and read through it and digest it because I know when you're just being spoken at sometimes you think "I can hear words, but I'm not understanding their meaning." So if you want to check out more about that and really get into the nitty gritty please head to PodSchoolPodcast.com. There you'll also find links to my tech guide which will help you set up your own home studio if you haven't done that already and a way to get onto the waitlist for my online podcasting course PodSchool.com.au which takes you step by step through everything from coming up with an idea right through to monetising your show.

[00:06:58] If you've been waiting to record your episodes because you didn't know how to do it remotely go out there and start trialling an error-ing. Is that even a word? I don't know. I think it might be time for me to get out of here. I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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