In today’s pandemic and social distancing era, podcast producers need to get extra creative to continue recording podcasts with guests. For safety, hosts and guests these days prefer to collaborate 100% online.
Many podcasters have done remote podcast recording in the past. Because of the current situation, we are all in, it has become almost a necessity for every podcaster. However, not all podcasters are good at it. Understandably, some hosts are concerned that quality might go down. One cannot control a remote guest’s equipment and settings after all. Remote podcast recording begs the question of how to maintain the quality of a podcast overall. This is especially true when many guests will probably record from home because of social distancing rules.
As mentioned above, remote recording is not new. Many hosts have gone remote over the past several years. Most often, these hosts collaborate with guests from all over the world. Thanks to ever-developing technology, remote podcast recording does not mean lower quality. In this article, our goal is to make remote podcast recording simple for you. This post will walk you through the “what” and “how” so you can maintain high standards for your show.
What is Remote Podcast Recording?
Remote podcast recording involves setting up your own studio. This can be in the comfort of your home, or anywhere accessible to you. With this type of recording system, you and your co-host or guest need to have your own equipment, stable internet connections, and noise-free recording environments.
What are the benefits of remote recording?
Having your own recording studio saves you from going through inconveniences like traffic and increased exposure to the virus. Also, recording podcasts remotely allows you to connect with different people as your guests anywhere globally. It also shatters the time-zone constraints between you, since you now have a 24/7 open recording window.
According to Dolby.io, remote podcast recording has many advantages compared to in-person recording. It opens the door to instant podcast editing right after the interview finishes. Because of this, podcast producers can now accommodate a more hectic schedule of recording back-to-back with various guests.
Zach Moreno, CEO and co-founder of SquadCast.fm saw that the podcasting industry became more alive and robust after the onset of the pandemic. He emphasized that hosts recorded a year’s worth of audio (around 9,000 hours) in September 2020 alone.
How to record podcasts remotely?
There are a lot of ways to record a podcast remotely. But before delving into the different setups, there are steps you need to take. Here are the three essential things you need to be aware of:
Define your goals
Starting without foresight can lead you astray. The first step you need to take is to know the podcast category you hope to create. Is it an interview podcast? Are you planning to have a co-host to discuss the topics with? Or are you doing solo shows and narrative podcasts such as those in dramas and documentaries?
Regardless of which of the mentioned podcast styles you choose, you have to be clear about it. Each podcast niche there has different needs and requirements. For instance, the interview type of podcast demands excellent software for remote recording.
Thus, understanding your podcasting niche needs better will help you define the proper setup, software features, and equipment to start your recording podcast remotely.
Balance and similarity matter
We know that remote podcast recording is not ideal. It has a lot of downsides, such as having access to the same levels of recording equipment. These issues can lead to technical problems, especially regarding audio quality.
If you want to have a co-host or guest record separately from you, you need to ensure that you both have the same audio quality. To do this, we encourage you to work with them on:
- using the same model microphone as you, or something similar
- finding a quiet place to record that is free from noise, echoes, and distractions
- keeping phones in silent mode during the entire recording session
- articulating with a well-modulated voice throughout the conversation
Invest in the essential equipment
Another question that comes to mind when preparing a remote recording studio is, “What equipment do I need to record a podcast?”. Of course, the first one on the list would be the microphone.
Never use the built-in microphone on your device. You know what will happen to your audio quality if you do this. Use a dynamic microphone or a condenser microphone. Dynamic microphones are best at filtering out a lot of background noise. Condenser microphones are perfect for soundproof studios. This type of microphone picks up sounds well, especially nearby sounds. Just don’t use a condenser microphone in an open or noisy space.
For ease-of-installation, especially by your guest, it is better to opt for USB microphones. They do not perform as well as the studio-grade microphones out there, but they are better than using your device’s built-in microphone or those in your earphones.
- Audio Technica ATR2100
- Samson Q2U
- Audio Technica AT2005 USB
- Rode Podcaster
Microphones do not capture voices alone. They can also record bursts of air as you utter different words. This can annoy your listeners. To prevent recording these plosives, install a pop filter. Most pop filters have a pole that tightens down around the mic stand. Loosen that bolt enough until you can fit it around the mic stand. Keep it loose as you adjust it to the correct position. Do not tighten the bolt down too much once you get it to the right position.
Your pop filter should stay three finger-widths away from your microphone. You should also stay three-finger widths away from the filter when speaking. This is to allow the air to disperse before the sound hits the mic.
Another useful piece of equipment when podcast recording is headphones. Headphones can give you control over the vocals and presentation style. You can hear yourself and your guest more clearly, which gives you a chance to alter your speaking voice and maintain better audio quality.
Recording without headphones can lower the quality of your audio if you don’t have a soundproof studio and a quality microphone. Headphones also prevent feedback and echoes. This will save you or your audio editor a lot of time because you won’t have to edit out these undesirable sounds.
Prepare for the interview.
Behind every successful podcast show are long weeks or months of preparation. This is more true when you opt for remote podcast recording. Make sure that your guest has no trouble making their authority shine through, even without a visible or physically present audience.
Do an outline of the things that you want to talk about in your podcast episode. Make sure that your subtopics apply to the primary topic. After that, curate some questions that will serve as a guide to improve your podcast’s flow.
Observe the following things to avoid that can affect your podcast’s flow:
- Do not interrupt your co-host or guest when they are talking.
- Do not fill your podcast with too much filler talk.
- Close all the unnecessary tabs that are open on your device before recording.
How to record a podcast over the phone
Expect a lot of adjustments when you invite someone to be a guest on your show. Some guests are on the run, have hectic schedules, or are just not tech-savvy people.
If you encounter these types of people, interviewing over the phone might be the best option on the list. However, some phones do not allow call recording features. You can use Google Voice to pull off your interview. With this software, you can also still use your computer to start an outgoing call.
Before the interview day:
- See Google’s set of instructions on how to set up Google Voice.
- Learn how to navigate the application.
- Do a test call with someone you know.
How to set up Google Voice on Your Computer
- Go to the Google Voice website.
- Sign in to your Google account.
- Look up numbers by city or area code to see what’s available. If you can’t find a suitable number, try a nearby city or area code.
- Select a number.
- Follow the dialogue box on the screen to confirm your current phone number.
- Click “Finish” to complete the setup.
You can try integrating a mixer into the phone call. It will give you more flexibility in terms of what you can record. By using a mixer, you have the chance to input audio directly into the device rather than relying on various editing techniques later on. Just make sure that the type of mixer you will buy has the feature that lets you record audio on separate tracks.
- Smartphone (for your guest)
- A noise and distraction-free recording environment at both ends
- Buying a mixer can be expensive, especially for new podcasters.
- The maximum level of audio quality you can get with a phone is not that great.
How to record a podcast over the internet
The Internet offers a lot of ways to record a podcast with your guest remotely. You can choose from the list of widely available conferencing software applications such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
Guests won’t have to worry about learning whichever application you want to use during the interview. These platforms are easy to set up and offer built-in call recording features.
Zoom has become more popular of late, and is the most convenient for multiple participants. It is also great for podcasting because you can set the app to record separate audio files for each speaker. This makes editing a lot easier. Skype is best for beginners since it is the most straightforward application among the three. Google Hangouts limits advanced functionality to enterprise users, but it is one of the best free options for online recording.
How to Record through Zoom
- Install the Zoom application on your computer.
- Setup your microphone and headphones.
- During the meeting, change your microphone settings.
- Find the arrow situated beside the “Mute” button and click it.
- After that, you will see a drop-down menu of all the microphones available.
- Select the microphone that you want to use.
To save time in converting the video to audio during the editing process, Zoom has the feature that allows you to have separate audio files for each speaker. Here are the steps to do this:
- Go to “Zoom Settings”.
- On the left corner of your screen, click “Recording”.
- Then, select the option, “Record a separate audio file for each participant who speaks.”
- Hit the “Record” button before starting the conference.
- Once the call finishes, Zoom renders three standard files: the joint audio, the video, and the chat transcript.
- You will also have an additional folder “Audio Record” containing a separate m4a file for each speaker.
How to Record through Skype
- Open the Skype application.
- Click the + symbol on the bottom right of the call window.
- Hit the “Start Recording” button.
- You can stop recording before ending the call or end the call directly to stop recording.
- After that, you will see the mp4 file downloaded on your computer.
How to Record through Google Hangouts
- Sign in to your Google account.
- Setup a YouTube account and channel.
- Sign in to your YouTube channel using Chrome.
- In the upper right corner of your screen, click the “Account Icon”.
- Then, select “YouTube Studio (beta).
- On the left side, find the “Live Streaming” option and click it.
- Under the section of Live Streaming, click “Events”.
- Find the + New live event on the top right part of the screen.
- In the new section, set your recording to “private”.
- In the type area of Google Hangouts On Air, choose “Quick.”
- After you’ve completed all the required fields, click “Go live now”.
- In the top gear icon’s bar, look for the audio settings. You may want to stick with the voice setting.
- With the bar at the top, you may add more people. This icon appears as an + next to a person symbol.
- To change everyone’s volume individually, click the “Control Panel” button in the sidebar.
- When you’re ready, click the “Go Live” button in the bottom center and wait for the yellow live icon in the top right to appear.
- When you’re finished, click “End Broadcast”. After that, you’re welcome to stay and chat in the room for a while.
- When you’re done chatting, click the red hang up icon in the upper center bar, and it will save your conversation (be sure that processing is complete before checking out).
- Your computer
- A strong internet connection
- A quality microphone
- Pop Filter
- Better external or peripheral camera (if your built-in camera is not of good quality)
- Google Hangouts is for enterprise users only.
- The file format of each platform may not match your podcast production requirements and editing workflow.
- Skype’s sound quality is not as good as Zoom’s.
- Connectivity can be an issue.
- Free zoom calls get cut off after 40 minutes. You will need a premium account to continue recording straight beyond 40 minutes.
- If your guest or co-host does not have a setup like yours, the audio quality will be different. It will be more obvious that you are not in the same room during recording. The difference can also annoy your listeners.
- Skype only saves mp4 files or mono recordings only. If you want to have an audio file (mp3) you need to convert the file. This usually affects the audio quality.
How to record using a “double-ender”
A double-ender is a remote recording method. The host and the remote guest or two co-hosts record audio and video locally on each participant’s end instead of over the internet.
Recording over a double-ender could eliminate the problem with connectivity using the mentioned conference software. Double-ender recording provides you with higher quality remote recordings.
How to set up Double Ender Hardware
- Set up your microphone and other peripheral devices.
- Go to the conferencing software of your choice.
- Start a call with your co-host and/or guest(s).
- Hit record when you are both ready.
- Set a signal like a hand gesture or a clap to align your recordings. You may also do a countdown.
- After you finish recording, you may hit the end call button.
- Ask your guest to send their file to you.
- Import both tracks into the editing software of your choice and align them by using your signals.
- Double-ender hardware
- A computer
- A quality microphone
- Pop Filter
- Better external or peripheral camera (if your built-in camera is not of good quality)
- This hardware seems to need a higher level of skill to set up.
- If hosts and guests do not know how to use a double-ender, technical support is necessary.
Both parties who are recording should have the same equipment to record with on both ends when using a hardware double-ender locally.
If you are not comfortable using a double-ender, you may opt for a double-ender software solution to record podcasts remotely. This option also includes a real-time backup recording on your software’s cloud server that gives you additional security.
How to set up a Double-ender Software
- Log in to the remote recording program or conference application of your choice.
- Give your guest the link to your broadcast.
- Your guest will arrive and proceed to the room to prepare, check their video, and so forth.
- You’ll be able to check their audio and video inputs, so give them a rundown and remind them to plug in an extra microphone and webcam if they have one.
- Start by pressing the record button.
- The software will record both of your data locally. It will also do the transfer in real-time while you record. You’ll have a cloud backup, so you don’t lose all of your work if your computer breaks. You’ll also be able to access your files from anywhere.
Download the files, then you can start your post-production to put everything together.
Top 5 Best Software Programs for Remote Recording
Having special software for remote podcast recording can guarantee better audio quality. It handles issues like poor internet connections. Each participant can locally record audio even though they are in different locations. Below are the top 5 best software applications for remote recording that work on both Windows and Mac:
Recording your podcast remotely can be pretty tricky since your audio quality is on the line. However, this type of recording offers a plethora of benefits. Some advantages of remote podcast recording are:
- the ability to record more show episodes in a shorter time
- lower chances of contracting the virus
- a broadened reach to various guests anywhere in the world
- unlimited access to a recording-ready studio 24/7
We hope that this post helped you figure out the best approach for remote recording for you. Here are the different points to remember to recap this post:
- Avoid using built-in devices on your computer.
- Invest in a high-quality microphone, headphones, pop-filter, and double-ender hardware (if you opt for this method).
- Headphones eliminate feedback and unnecessary noises.
- Double-ender hardware needs higher technological expertise than its software version.
- Prep and plan the flow of your conversation.
- Try to match your equipment with your co-host and guest to improve quality.
- Test your equipment with your co-host and guest before starting the interview.
- The studio on both ends should be soundproof or free from background noises.
You do not have to nail down your remote recording workflow when you finish your setup. Give yourself time to practice using your studio. However, if you are still not confident in doing remote recording on your own, ask for help.
PodKick is a podcast production company that can help podcast producers record podcasts remotely from start to finish. Their services include audio editing, notes and resources, distribution, deep analytics, machine learning, and guest management.
Mary Achurra is a freelance content marketer. She helps business owners and entrepreneurs attract and retain customers by creating quality, engaging content.