How to record interviews over a distance is one of the most frustrating things for many podcasters – and the tech is not quite there yet.[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#008000″ class=”” size=”20″]
But it’s getting better. 🙂
2017 brings a handful of pretty decent options for recording a conversation, many of them with tech that takes out the “distance” part of a distance recording so you get better quality audio every time.
I wanted to make it obvious how good the options are as well as answer some of the questions I get on a regular basis about the best way to record an interview.
So my client onboarding guy, Aaron and I took a morning to do some recordings of OUR conversations using all the options that I think are legitimate for 2017.
So – How to record interviews: 2017 Demo of the Best Options is what you’ll hear on this episode of Podcastification.
Here’s a rough outline of this “How to Record Interviews” episode:
- [1:44] My top 5 recommendations: Zoom – Ringr – Zencastr – Skype – Cleanfeed and our demos of each of these options, demo’d for you.
- [3:00] Tips for making a good distance recording, no matter which option you choose
- [3:46] My experience using Zoom (my description of what I see)
- [5:26] The recording of Aaron and I speaking and recording to each other via Zoom along with our impressions and observations of the platform
- [7:16] The “guest” side of a Zoom call – Aaron’s insights and observations
- [7:50] Zoom’s details, pricing, method of recording, number of participants, etc.
- [10:40] The pre-recording setup and login experience for recording an interview on Ringr
- [11:10] The actual conversation we recorded and how Ringr works (double-ender)
- [12:08] The “guest” side of the Ringr connection and some of the cool things we see
- [14:51] Skype calls must be recorded using a 3rd party app
- [16:08] The “guest” side of the Skype call – and why Skype is the good-old standby
- [17:17] Why Skype calls with bad connections are HARD for audio editing
- [18:55] Pre-call setup of a Zencastr recording/call
- [19:49] Zencastr’s chat feature, timeline footnotes, etc.
- [20:46] Zencastr’s free plan: features, integrations, bells and whistles
- [21:40] What is happening when you hear a glitch in Zencastr
- [23:52] Counterintuitive things I feel about Cleanfeed
- [24:38] The guest and host experiences on Cleanfeed
- [26:21] Why you need to stay in the platform until things are done uploading
- [27:10] Review of platforms and features
- [29:11] Another option as an “honorable mention” – www.Tryca.st
- [29:58] OUR RANKINGS OF THE TOP 5 PLATFORMS FOR RECORDING AN INTERVIEW
- [31:49] Browser-dependent issues some of the platforms will experience from time to time
I’m not only going to tell you how to record an interview, I’m going to demo it for you 5 different ways… with a little help
This episode of podcast application has been in the works for a long time. Maybe we were putting it off because we knew how much work it would do. But it was worth it!
My client onboarding guy, Aaron and I are going to demo all the options we think are worthwhile when it comes to recording in your interview conversation.
Some facts you might find interesting about these recordings:
- We are 823 miles and 3 states apart as we speak to one another so you should keep that in mind when you consider the sound quality of each other recording platforms.
- We are both PC users, not Mac users, so the various features and platforms may look different on Mac then they do from what we describe in this episode.
- You’re going to get to hear both sides of the calls on each platform. When I remember to do it, I will tell you what I see coming into the platform as a host, describe how easy or difficult it is to get into the platform and get a call set up, and then Aaron will describe what he experiences from the guest side of each of the platforms.
- And finally, we will outline the features and costs of each one of the platforms and give you our ranking of these five options for recording an interview at the end of our demonstrations.
This is 36 minutes of audio that is well worth your time if you ever have been curious how to record an interview with the best quality possible.
Our experience recording an interview with ZOOM
Zoom is a recording option that many podcasters are using these days, I know because I see files from Zoom coming in from our clients fairly often.
As you listen to our demonstration of what it takes to set up a call on zoom and get it recorded, downloaded, and actually usable for your podcast, keep in mind that Zoom was not created for podcast recording in particular, it is a video conferencing software. That means it includes screenshare capabilities, video, chat features, and much more.
Aaron and I used the free plan that Zoom offers to record the call you will hear on this episode end it offers the following features:
- Records 1, premixed mono file (mpeg4)
- Can record audio & video
- Can record to cloud (Zoom) or computer
- You can select the microphone of your choice
- Participants can mute their microphones at any time
- You can host up to 100 participants (group meeting) – what a nightmare of a podcast episode THAT would be
- The free plan offers unlimited 1 to 1 meetings/recordings per month
- If you do a group meeting (more than 2 people) there is a 40 minute limit per meeting
- When finished, you have to wait a short time for a download of the audio
Screenshots from our Zoom experience
The Ringr demo
Ringr is a top-of-the-line app brought to us by its founder, Tim Sinclair, who I have interviewed on this podcast before in episode 41. That particular episode was recorded back in June of 2016 and Ringr has come a long way since then.
One thing I did not mention in my conversation with Aaron that you will hear on this episode is that Ringr is not only a web-based app, it also has a smartphone app that enables you to connect with people who are not at their computer at the time you need to do your recording. In a situation like that, you need to keep in mind that recording quality will depend on the quality of the microphone that is being used – either the internal microphone of the phone in question, or an external microphone that might be plugged into the phone.
You can hear from the recording on this episode that recording interviews with Ringr gives you great quality and a good overall experience.
Here is what Ringr offers:
- Free Trial (30 days) that includes all the premium features
- After that, you choose a plan: Basic $7.99/mo :: Premium $18.99/mo :: Enterprise
- You can pause and resume a call/recording
- Conference calling (more than 2 people) is now available
- Ringr offers both a mobile app & a web-based app
- Recordings can be downloaded in either Mp3, OGG, or FLAC
- You can choose between mono, stereo, split-track (on the premium plan or higher)
- You can choose any bit rate (premium plan or higher)
- There is unlimited storage of previous recordings (premium or higher)
- Unlimited calling/recording
- You must wait for all files to finish before exiting the browser and receiving your download options
Here are some screenshots from our experience with Ringr
The Skype recording process
One of the things you will hear me mention at least a couple of times on this podcast episode is that recording with Skype requires a third-party application of some kind. Skype itself does not offer call recording.
In this demonstration, I used a pc-based application called MP3 Skype call recorder. The link for that free software is in the resources section below.
I believe that one of the reasons Skype has become the go-to resource for people who want to record an interview is because it was one of the first internet-based call solutions any of us knew anything about. So, it’s the same as if you had read the book and then gone to see the movie, and the book always seems better. It’s simply because you read the book first.
These days, Skype is still in the auction and it does a decent job, but it has its limitations and drawbacks when it comes to podcast recordings. I believe there are much better options for you to offer your listeners that don’t cost any more than Skype – and that is free.
Here is what Skype offers:
- A free option (there IS free 3rd party software also)
- Requires 3rd party software
- You can call and record a person who is using the Skype app
- You will have to pay when calling a landline
- Records directly on your computer
- No limitations on the amount of recording you can – other than your time
Our Zencastr Demo – just the facts
Zencastr is one of the first browser-based recording options I became aware of when they first became a thing. It records each person in the conversation inside their own internet browser, then uploads those files to the cloud, the Zen Caster cloud, and sinks them together into a downloadable set of files.
Can you see the advantage of that kind of recording?
It enables you to avoid all of the long distance issues like delays, glitches, warbles, line noise, and anything else that would come from trying to record something over a very long distance. It’s only fair at this point to also say that Ringr and clean feed which will be featured next, offer the same kind of technology of a sort, so the quality you get from them should be the same as you get from sin caster.
Here are the features you get from Zencastr’s free plan
- Up to 3 people per session
- 8 hours free per month
- Receive a high quality mp3
- Must wait for all files to upload, then have the ability to download
- Can automatically save to your Dropbox account
Screenshots from our Zencastr experience
Our final contestant: Cleanfeed
I hope you were able to hear my conversation with Mark, one of the founders and developers behind Cleanfeed, back in episode 69. If not, stop everything you’re doing and go listen to it right now you insensitive person who seems to enjoy hurting my feelings.
Just kidding. 😉
One of the things that Aaron said during a recording about the Cleanfeed interface is that it is very clean. It is fairly unobtrusive, has very little in the way of controls and knobs that you can see, and overall is pretty pleasing to the eye.
But there is a downside to that. Some of the controls are a little bit difficult to find. Especially on the host side of things. But like anything, once you’ve gone through it a few times you get used to where things are and are able to work it into your interview recording workflow with no problems.
I’ve even created a video to show you how to use clean feed which you can find in the resource section below.
Here are the details about Cleanfeed
- Always free
- Unlimited number of guests
- Unlimited number of hours you can record
- Unlimited number of sessions
- You can set the type of file you want (joint stereo or combined)
- Receive wav files
- Must wait a short time for files to upload and download options to appear
Our screen captures from Cleanfeed
One very good “honorable mention” platform that was NOT included in our demo
There is one other service that records interviews with the same kind of technology that Ringr and Zencastr use, but I did not include it in this demo session because it is much more than just a recording solution.
Cast is a media host and podcast publishing solution very similar to Libsyn or Podbean. And more…
It has all kinds of bells and whistles, including editing software online, including audio optimization software, and more than I can even tell you right now.
Since it is not really a comparison of apples to oranges for me to include cast in this demo, I didn’t.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Near the end of our conversation Aaron and I both ranked these 5 platforms for recording an interview according to ease abuse, price, features, and sound quality.
I could tell you exactly what each of us think right here in the show nuts, but I think you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you take the time to listen. 🙂
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Additional resources mentioned
- MP3 Skype Call Recorder
- All of the reliable 3rd party Skype recording apps
- My previous conversation with one of the developers of Cleanfeed
- My interview with Josh, developer of Zencastr
- My video about how to use Cleanfeed (embedded below)
- My video about how to use Zencastr (embedded below)
Video showing how to use Zencastr
My video showing how to use Cleanfeed
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