Podcasting Part 3: Recording your podcast

This is the third in a periodic series of posts about podcasting. Read part 1: Why I podcast and part 2: Microphones.

Now that you have your microphone, you need to record your podcast. This post describes several available options, along with my recommendations.

Recording software

The software that I use for recording podcasts differs based on where the participants and guests are located.

Scenario 1: Everybody in the same room

If everybody is in the same room, use Audacity on Windows. Audacity is free and open source, and surprisingly full featured. Audacity has a lot of great features, like noise reduction, but sometimes I find the user interface a bit on the clunky side. Bookmark and read the online manual so you know how the controls work, and do a test recording to ensure that your levels and settings are correct. There are also many helpful tutorials on Youtube.

If you don’t want to install any software, a good online option is Twisted Wave. While it doesn’t have as many controls as Audacity, it works very well for recording and basic editing. I also use the Twisted Wave mobile app for recording audio from my phone while podcasting on the go. I’ve edited an entire podcast episode on my phone on a plane via Twisted Wave. It’s $9.99, but it is worth it.

If you are a Mac user, I would recommend Garage Band.

Scenario 2: People in different locations

Podcast recording gets trickier when you have people in different locations, and the tools that I mentioned in scenario 1 don’t cut it for remote recordings (or don’t cut it by themselves).

The first tool podcasters generally try is Skype, because it is free and fairly universal. Other free group conversation platforms are Google Hangouts, Facetime, or Facebook Messenger.

These solutions can work, but there are several potential drawbacks:

  • They don’t provide, by default, a “record” option. This can be overcome using software like Snagit, CallRecorder, or in Garageband with some help from Sunflower.
  • Sound quality may be inconsistent
  • If you record an international podcast with participants in different countries, somebody will sound far away.

If you are all in the same geographic area, these solutions may be worth trying. Or you can skip the potential frustration and go directly to:

Zencastr.

Zencastr is a fremium service. Users will connect to a Zencastr URL in Chrome or Firefox (not Safari) on a computer with a microphone and have a conversation via Zencastr (no install or skype required). Zencastr records each participant’s audio locally, then at the end of the conversation, drops them all in Dropbox. It does away with latency and sound quality issues and makes everybody sound like they are sitting in the same room.

If you will only have no more than two guests, are ok with MP3 format recordings, the free “hobbyist” version of Zencastr will work well. The paid tiers give you wav files, online mixing, more time, and a soundboard you can use to mix in music and sound effects while recording.

My recommendations

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