If you’re used to recording your podcast in person, you’re probably scrambling a bit to get up to speed on recording with guests / friends remotely.
Have no fear! I’d guess the majority of podcasts are recorded this way so you’re joining in on a long history of people who self-isolated in order to not have to shower in order to record a podcast.
My goals for this article:
My goal with recording a podcast is to have the best possible experience with the conversation (i.e. no lag, no awkward talking over moments, easy to set up, and join for one-off guests, etc.) AND get as good an audio recording as possible at the same time.
(See any misspellings or ideas worth correcting in this article? Tweet at me (politely) or get in touch.
Before We Begin…
This post I wrote with 6+ tips for better podcasting still applies so read that and then come back for more here.
Also, I’m not going to cover any gear or software for recording in this post as that’s a separate discussion, but feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or book a consulting call if you have specific questions that you’d like answered about the mics, headphones, and editing software you should be using to record your podcast.
Connecting With Your Guest(s)
To connect with your guest(s), you can use a few different methods. As you’ll see later on in the post, how you connect isn’t really that important as long as you’re able to properly record yourselves.
If you haven’t heard of Zoom by now, you probably aren’t aware of the whole COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom has become, almost overnight, the standard way to have voice and/or video conversations with people online.
Zoom is generally what I recommend, particularly if your podcast is you and one other person. The free plan is all you need to use. Officially Zoom has a 40 minute time limit on group calls with 3 or more people, but in light of COVID-19 they’ve been gifting people unlimited time on calls – but there’s no guarantee your call won’t get cut off so if you have 3+ people on your podcast AND you talk longer than 40 minutes, it might be worth upgrading to the paid plan starting at $20CAD/month – pricing details here.
Besides having great video / audio quality on the call itself, Zoom offers the host the ability to record the call – video and audio – locally on their computer. Even on the free plan. You can read Setting Up Local Recordings on Zoom’s help site for more details.
Within Zoom you can set up a call and share the URL to join right away, without having to do any scheduling. Quick and easy. Read How to Find / Share the Invite URL support document.
You can also schedule a call for a future date or have a recurring call set up so the invite URL can be sent out ahead of time. Read Scheduling Meetings on Zoom’s support site.
If you have more than two people on your call, I’d also recommend using the mute button inside of Zoom for whomever isn’t the active speaker. It’ll free up bandwidth for the incoming audio/video, plus doesn’t get confusing if folks start to talk over each other. Read Attendee Controls in a Meeting support doc on Zoom’s site.
Remember: this is a podcast and you can edit the audio later. So feel free to pause at anytime and say something like "Hey Karen, you talked over Dan there. Can you start that thought over? Just count to 3 in your head and then continue so we have a bit of silence to work with in the edit."
UberConference is a new app to me, but one of my clients is using it to much success on their podcast as a way of having a conversation plus getting a recording of their guest(s), in much the same way as Zoom.
The other nice thing is that UberConference has very clear pricing information that states that their free plan has been bumped up to 50 participants and 5 hours of conversation in light of COVID-19 related events. It’s also only $15/month vs $20/month for Zoom.
UberConference appears to be limited to audio only on the mobile side vs Zoom’s ability to do video+audio on iOS – something to consider as well.
Definitely an app to try out if you’re not already set up on Zoom or needing to switch due to Zoom’s unclear messaging on account limits.
There are plenty of other ways to have a conversation online with your hosts/guests and they all work. So if you’re familiar wtih one already, you might as well continue using it.
Your mileage may vary on each of these platforms. But the important part is to be able to hear each other. Seeing each other is a bonus as that can help with carrying on a conversation a little more normally – you can tell when someone is wrapping up a thought or signal to them that you’d like to jump in while they’re finishing.
Recording Your Call – On Each End of the Call
This is the most important part of the process for podcasters. Besides sending audio over Zoom to each other, each person is going to record the conversation on their own computer so you end up with nearly pristine audio rather than you recording whatever you hear after it’s been compressed and digitized over the internet through Zoom.
(This is where Zoom’s local recording is great to have as a backup or for times where your guest(s) aren’t technically able to record their side of the conversation for whatever reason.)
Note: I’m writing from a Mac centric world. I don’t have a lot of experience on Windows but I know audio recording apps exist.
QuickTime is free and included with every Mac computer. You can start it up and go to File > New Audio Recording, choose the appropriate mic in the dropdown list next to the big red record button, and hit record. Now you’re recording everything you say into your microphone.
When you’re done, hit the stop button and then File > Export As > Audio Only, give it a name, and save it somewhere you’ll remember and then share that M4A audio file over Dropbox or Google Drive and you’re done.
Piezo from Rogue Amoeba is a delightfully simple app that does one thing and does it really well: records the audio from whichever app or device you choose. You could record audio being played back in Safari or Firefox from a web page, audio from a livestream radio program, or, for our purposes here, record audio from the microphone plugged into your computer.
Piezo is a one-time purchase at $19USD and is well worth it.
Audio Hijack, also from Rogue Amoeba, is simply the best audio recording app for any platform (in my humble opinion). I’ve even gone so far as to create a YouTube channel with a bunch of tutorials on how to use it I love it so much.
Audio Hijack is definitely more complicated than Piezo or QuickTime, but the extra flexibility it offers you if you’re recording podcasts makes it a no-brainer purchase. For my money as a podcaster, you should have it in your applications tool kit just in case. It’s like being a carpenter and not having a hammer in your tool kit.
Audio Hijack is $59USD.
I don’t have any experience with these, but you can use Voice Recorder on Windows 10, Audacity for Windows is another option.
Whichever of the above apps you choose, you’ll use them to record your audio and your audio alone. See this tutorial video on how it works with Audio Hijack.
Each of your guests/hosts will do the same thing on their computer with their mic. You’ll all end up with audio files on your computer(s) that you need to collect and send to whomever is going to edit and put together your podcast – hire me?
What About Apps That Do Everything For You?
Another way of recording a podcast is using a web app that takes care of both the conversation you’re having AND records it for you on each local computer. Here’s a list of some of these for you to check out:
There’s nothing wrong with any of these and I have no problem recommending them as an easier way to record your podcast, particularly if you have guests that are easily confused or frustrated by trying to record their own audio.
The main reason I don’t like to use them is I prefer to use apps on my computer versus web based apps, particularly for audio. But that’s an old school preference for sure. Modern web apps are very powerful, make backups, and do a great job of capturing local audio. I’m just always terrified I’ll close a tab or window and end a recording. Your mileage may vary.
Got questions about the things I attempted to cover in this post? Get in touch with Chris Enns of Lemon Productions via your preferred method: