Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Podcast recording with distributed guests

In the past, when recording a podcast where the guests are in different locations, I've used Skype and a utility that lets each guest record their audio locally. While you can just have the host record the whole Skype call, network issues can reduce the quality of the remote guests. Since Microsoft purchased Skype they've messed with it and prevented the old recorder software from working.

Recently I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Vertical Hold tech podcast with prolific tech journalists Adam Turner and Alex Kidman. The show was a kind of wrap of 2017 and look ahead to 2018, you can hear it here or subscribe wherever good podcasts are offered.

I mention this because we recorded the podcast using a web site called Zencastr. Each party joins the conference using just their web browser (Chrome is recommended) and it works like a group call. The real magic is that each person's audio is recorded locally in the browser and uploaded to the server in full quality as you go. You wouldn't know this was going on except that at the end of the recording we had to keep the browser window open for a little while for the upload to complete.

The upshot is that the podcast sounds very good. At my end I'm using a Rode USB mic which I think sounds excellent. I did have one problem at the start, I had a Chrome extension installed that prevents HTML5 video from auto-playing and this prevented me hearing the others until I disabled it.

Zencastr has a straight forward interface, you see a list of people in the call and interestingly the type of microphone they have selected - I imagine this is useful to make sure people aren't using the built-in laptop mic by mistake. There's a "hand" button where you can raise your hand so the host can throw to you. They have reasonable pricing and a free tier with up to two guests and 8 hours recording a month.

Thanks again to Adam and Alex.


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