Guide to Remote Podcast Recording

Recording podcasts remotely is something you'll need to do often. Learn the different options and best practices
Guide to Remote Podcast Recording

Introduction to Remote Podcast Recording

Recording podcast episodes remotely is something that most podcasters have to do more often than not so it’s good to learn the optimal way for different scenarios. This is especially important when recording guest interviews as opposed to a set co-host. Guests often come with their own set of challenges that change from person to person. I’ve done over 50 guest interviews and I’ve learned some things along the way.

Challenges

It’s not as difficult to setup a good workflow for recording hosts remotely, but remote recording guest interviews with changing conditions is more of a challenge. Here are the common issues.

  • Usually don’t have an external mic
  • Don’t know best practices for recording
  • Can’t monitor their own audio
  • Bad internet connections
  • Noisy environments
  • Not tech savvy
 

Multitrack

Regardless of the conditions you ALWAYS want to record each speaker on a separate track. This will allow you to remove unwanted sounds when the other person is speaking and mix the track differently based on their microphone and environment.

This is why you want to avoid using apps like zoom, skype or discord to record your podcast remotely. Even if they do offer the ability to record separate tracks it’s often heavily compressed.

If you’re podcasting remotely with another host and are both recording locally to your software then those services are fine for communication and syncing purposes. However with guests this is almost never the case.

Loopback

This is the ability to route an audio signal. So normally on a mac you can record your mic but you can’t record your computer audio to a separate track without a dedicated app like rogue amoeba or ishowu

The reason this matters is because loopback allows you to record audio from an app, like skype, google voice, zoom etc on it’s own channel. 

My audio interface, the motu m2 has this feature built in. If your audio interface has this feature then you can use whatever communication app you like for remote interviews. However those apps may compress the audio you receive from your guest. I use my audio interface’s loopback as a backup and for syncing purposes if my guest is recording locally (on their own computer). 

Edit: I got a copy of Rogue Amoeba’s Loopback and it’s an incredibly powerful app. It only works for mac but it allows you to control everything about your system audio.

Here’s a quick tutorial I made showing how to use loopback and cleanfeed for podcast interviews.

Loopback

Combine audio from different application sources and audio input devices, then make it available anywhere. Mac only.

Phone Calls

For some guests the only option will be to record a phone call. There’s a couple different ways you can do this. If you have an interface like the Rodecastor Pro, the Zoom Livetrack L-8 or the newly announced Podtrak P4 then this capability is built into your device.

Zoom Podtrak P4

Zoom's new portable recorder is their most appealing device for podcasters. All the functionality of a Rodecaster pro for 1/3 the price.

$200
Zoom LiveTrak L-8

This audio interface from Zoom contains everything a podcaster could ever need and it's $200 cheaper than the Rodecaster Pro.

$400
RODECaster Pro

USB interface with integrated mixer, sound effects player, phone tap for taking phone calls, recorder, and more, all in one box.

$600

If you’re using something like the Focusrite Scarlett or a usb mic into your computer then you’ll need a different option. 

A simple solution it to use the free Rev app which will record your phone call. I typically use this for backup because it gives you a compressed mp3. If you have an interface with loopback then you can sign up for a free google voice account and record your system’s audio. This is my preferred method.

You can also plug your phone into any audio interface with an XLR to 3.5mm cable but you could run into some mix minus issues depending on your device. 

Remote Recording Resources

As the popularity of podcasting exploded so did the need for remote recording solutions. Several SAAS start-ups have come into the space. Here are the benefits of using one of these services.

  • Can record separate tracks
  • Used to communicate
  • Simple for guests to use
  • Store your recordings in the cloud
 

Top 3 Companies

Cleanfeed

Multi-track, multi-party live audio and remote recording using only a browser. Record high-quality audio on separate tracks for editing.

Squadcast

Record remotely, edit and create podcasts with continuous uploads, and a platform that allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere.

Zencastr

Web-based service for podcast production. Podcasters can record their guests remotely with separate tracks and lossless wav files.

Cleanfeed

Cleanfeed is the option that is going to give you the highest quality audio. However for this you’ll sacrifice a couple things. First there’s no video, and 2nd it doesn’t update to the cloud so if your browser crashes during the recording the files are lost. So they suggest manually saving the files every so often. The way I use it is by recording my guest’s cleanfeed audio directly to audition. This way I get that high quality audio stream without worrying about losing files. Also cleanfeed works very well on mobile phones which is another useful way to record mobile guests.

Squadcast

Squadcast is great for audio and has the ability to view video of eachother. They don’t have the option to record video as of 9/7/2020 but I spoke with the founders and it’s coming very soon. I definitely recommend squadcast, the customer service is excellent and the product is reliable and well-built.

Zencastr

I’ve heard good things but I haven’t personally tested Zencastr yet but I will do that and update this section. 

Zoom

Zoom was always a popular free option but the audio was heavily compressed. On September 1st they added an original audio mode. This lets you disable echo cancellation and raises the audio quality to 48Khz, 96Kbps mono/192kbps stereo. This update actually makes zoom a legitimate option for remote recording.

To enable it first make sure you update the app by clicking on your avatar in the top right corner then selecting “check for updates.” 

Then click the gear icon below the avatar for settings. Select “Audio” then set “Suppress background noise” to low. Then click “advanced” in the bottom right corner. Set echo cancellation to auto then select the following options.

  • Show in meeting option to enable original sound
  • Disable echo cancellation
  • High fidelity music mode

Now when in a call you’ll see the option to “turn on original sound” in the top left corner.

Make sure you’re using headphones when this mode is enabled otherwise you’ll hear an echo.

Pricing Comparison

Cleanfeed
Squadcast
Zencastr
Free Plan
Yes
Yes
Yes
-Limits
No Multitrack
7 days
Mp3 only
Tier 1 ($/month)
$22
$10
$20
-Includes
Unlimited
2 hours/month
Unlimited
Tier 2 ($/month)
$20
-Includes
5 hours/month
Tier 3 ($/month)
$45
-Includes
12 hours/month

So if you don’t need to do many of these then Squadcast is probably the best option. If you often need to do more than 5 hours a month then Zencastr or Cleanfeed may be a better choice. Cleanfeed is the best audio but doesn’t offer video if that’s important to you.

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