The Best Way to Record Remote Audio for Podcasts
November 12, 2018 | Jacob Bozarth
With the majority of current podcasts being interview driven, most of which not being performed 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 that 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 right and wrong way to record remotely, and we want to help you know the best way to capture quality remote recordings for your setup. 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 to record high quality remote recordings for your podcast.
Before we dive in, lets cover the 2 best types of tools to help you capture a quality remote recording. The best options for the task are using web-based platforms like Zencastr or Squadcast or a portable recorder such as the Zoom H6 or H5. We have already created in-depth tutorials on how to use both Zencastr and the Zoom H6 on our website.
But how do you use these tools? There will be three ways or setups we recommend for recording remote recordings. The first (and most common) is computer to computer; the second and highest quality is the double ender; and the third, mainly for high profile (or lazy) guests are phone call recordings.
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 Google Chrome or Firefox browser). There are a few great options out there for recording a computer to computer remote recording, but the two platforms that we recommend and have tested extensively are Zencastr and Squadcast.
Both of these platforms are designed with one goal in mind: to record high quality audio for podcasting by recording each person 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 Zencastr here. Squadcast is a newer platform but unlike Zencastr it has a video feature so you and your guest can see each other while recording.
If you have used a video communication platform such as Skype, Zoom, 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 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.
Unfortunately there is no mobile option currently available for either of these options, 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. While this set-up is ideal for a single host and guest, if you have a consistent co-host you might consider the next option which is a bit of an improvement from the computer to computer option.
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, a RE20 Microphone, into a Cloudlifter CL-1, into a Zoom H6 handheld recorder. Once we are done recording the interview, I will 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 local preamp and will sound better then a usb mic into a computer. We recommend the Zoom H6 or a Sound Devices recorder if you really want to improve your sound. 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 requires the most amount of work for your guest or co-host, so if you will be interviewing people who are not 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 not 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. 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 less than ideal audio. We hope this guide has been helpful and that it will help you improve the quality of your 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.
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.