The Best Way to Record Remote Audio for Podcasts
Updated April 3, 2020 | Jacob Bozarth
With the majority of current podcasts being interview driven and many not being recorded in-person, there is a huge need for podcasters to be able to record high-quality remote recordings. Thankfully with the advancements in technology, there are quite a few great options to do just that.
Unfortunately many well-known podcasts I listen to have very poor audio due to poor remote recording quality. What gives? With the rapid growth of podcasting, this is a common issue we see, and many podcasters are ill-informed on the best way to conduct remote recordings.
To set the record straight, there is a good and bad way to record remote audio, and we want to help you know the best way to capture quality remote recordings. In a future post, we will debunk some common myths pertaining to remote recordings, but in this post, we are going to focus on the best options for recording record high quality remote recordings for your podcast.
Before we dive in, let’s cover 2 great tools that will help you capture a quality remote recording. First, the best and easiest to use tool is a web-based recording platform like Zencastr, Squadcast, or Zoom. The second tool, though usually not as easy to use and a bit more expensive is a handheld or portable recorders such as the Zoom H6 or H5. We have created in-depth tutorials on how to use Squadcast, Zencastr, Zoom, and the Zoom H6.
So how do you use these tools? There are three ways or setups we recommend for recording remote recordings. The first (and most common) is computer to computer; the second and highest quality option is the double-ender; and the third, mainly for high profile (or lazy) guests would be recording phone calls.
The first remote podcast recording setup we recommend is the computer to computer setup. In these situations, you and your guest will connect, hear each other, and record through a web-based audio recording application (usually through a Google Chrome browser). There are a few great options out there for recording a computer to computer remote recording, but the three platforms that we recommend and have tested extensively are Squadcast, Zencastr, and Zoom.
Both Squadcast and Zencastr are designed with one goal in mind: to record high-quality audio for podcasting by recording each guest on a separate track, for optimal quality. Many of our clients use these platforms to do just that. You can also find a detailed review and tutorial of Squadcast here, Zencastr here, and Zoom here. Squadcast, unlike Zencastr, has a video feature so you and your guests can see each other while recording. While you cannot currently record video, this is a feature Squadcast claims to be working on.
If you have used a video communication platform such as Skype, or GoToMeeting in the past(to communicate not record), you might like the video feature that Squadcast offers. Again Squadcast and Zencastr are both great platforms that have a talented team behind them committed to making a remote recording for podcasting easy. Both of these platforms have had significant improvements in the past year where they have worked out bugs and made their platform a bit easier to use.
With many companies having fully or partially remote teams, using Zoom or a similar video conferencing platform is required in order to keep business going as usual. We recently published a post on How to Record a Podcast with Zoom. While we were writing this post and testing out Zoom, we found that if you adjust your settings, use a good USB microphone, and have a stable internet connection you can capture pretty high-quality remote recordings using Zoom.
Unfortunately, there is no mobile option currently available for Zencastr, so you and your guest will need a computer, an updated version of Google Chrome browser, an internet connection, and a pair of headphones. A good usb mic is also recommended. If you have an Android phone, Squadcast does have a mobile remote recording option. And while Squadcast does not currently have an option for iPhone users, they claim to be working on that feature. While this set-up is ideal for a single host and guest, if you have a consistent co-host or guests, you might consider the next option which is a bit of an improvement from the computer to computer option.
While the computer to computer option may be the easiest way to record a remote recording, from time to time we have experienced issues with our recordings or the software crashing so we always recommend recording a backup. The easiest way to record a backup is to use our free online voice recorder. This will allow you to locally record a high-quality WAV file. You can also ask your guest or co-host to do the same thing. To do this, open a new tab in Google Chrome and start recording using the Resonate Recorder.
In this set up you and your guest will record each end of the audio locally. Many well-known interview-style podcasts use this setup, and to be honest this is the way to capture the highest quality audio for a remote recording. You can record your audio locally to your computer, a DAW, or a portable recorder.
When I get remote interview requests to record for a podcast, I use the following setup to record the audio on my end: Skype, Zoom, or a phone call just to hear the host, an Electrovoice RE320 Microphone, into a Cloudlifter CL-1, into an audio interface that connects to my computer. I then use local recording software or the Resonate Recorder to capture a high-quality WAV local file. Once we are done recording the interview, I upload my track to the host or producer so they can edit and mix my track with the hosts for the episode.
The benefit to this setup is that your microphone is being recorded through a dedicated microphone preamp and will sound a bit better than a usb mic into a computer. Your guest would also need a local recording setup to capture their end of the interview or conversation. Once you are done recording you would both upload the audio for post-production.
While it provides the highest quality, this is the recording option that can be the most expensive and requires the most amount of work for your guest or co-host, so if you will be interviewing people who may not be very tech-savvy or will only give you a phone number to call, then you may consider the next option.
In many cases, the guest you have on your podcast may only be able to hop on a 30-minute phone call with you. While it’s may not be ideal, if you absolutely need to record phone calls for your podcast we recommend the following set up.
If you would like to see a sample video of this setup explained and used you can check out this post on how to record phone calls. This setup allows you to be mobile, and in our experience captures the highest quality audio you can (on a budget) for a phone call. Since you are getting a direct signal from the output jack of your phone you do not have to worry about interference, just make sure your guest is in a quiet room and that they do not use speakerphone on their end. Additionally, your voice will be captured on a clean and separate track with no bleed from the phone call audio. Another great and easy way to record phone calls is with Skype and Audio Hijack. Similar to the the method above, you record the phone call audio and your voice on separate tracks. We cover how to record a Skype call in detail in this post. This allows the tracks to be edited and mixed separately in the post-production process.
As we mentioned, there are many great ways to record remote podcast recordings but these are the three that we recommend. Some of the other options available may be easier but may also leave you with a low-quality audio recording. We hope this guide has been helpful and that it will help you improve the quality of your future remote recordings. These three options should allow quite a bit of flexibility depending on your specific needs, but if you have any additional questions about remote recording, feel free to reach out to the Resonate Recordings team to discuss your specific recording setup.
If you’re interested in having the audio from your remote recording professionally edited, mixed, or mastered or if you want to learn more about how we make podcasting easier, you can schedule a call with our team. We look forward to hearing from you and how or if this post made your remote recording process easier.
As President & Co-Founder of Resonate Recordings, Jacob leads the team & oversees all sales & marketing initiatives. Jacob can often be found recording, producing, & mixing many well-known podcasts when he is not spending time with his family in Louisville, KY.