Our Guide to Recording a Podcast Remotely: How-to

If you plan to host an interview podcast, then there are several aspects of researching guests, scheduling, and remote recording you’ll need to consider.

While some interview podcasts are conducted in person, it’s not the norm for obvious reasons:

  • Your guest isn’t always going to be in the same location as you
  • The equipment setup is much more intense (and expensive) for an in person interview
  • Not everyone has a full-on podcasting studio to record in

So if you’re not going to be doing an in-person interview podcast, your other option is to do remote podcast interviews: you connect with your guest via the Internet and record both sides of the conversation using podcast recording software.

As you can imagine there are a lot of logistics at play here and several options when it comes to the equipment and software available. Luckily we’ve got experience recording and participating in over 3,500 remote podcast interviews (yes! over 3,500!), so we’re going to share the top recommendations here, including how to make sure your remote podcast setup is air tight.

In order to record a podcast remotely you need 4 things:

  1. Your own podcast equipment
  2. Your guest has their podcast equipment
  3. You and your guest both have a strong internet connection
  4. A way to record your interview

There are several options when it comes to podcast equipment and your recording software, so let’s look at each of the 4 things. you need in more detail.

Your own podcast equipment setup

When it comes to producing a podcast, audio quality is important. That’s why your equipment setup — and your guest’s equipment setup — matters.

Let’s first talk about your setup.

For good quality audio we recommend a mic that’s both affordable and easy to use: the Audio-Technica ATR-2100.

I’ve been recording podcasts since 2014 using this microphone, and I love it.

I use it at home and on the road, and it offers both a USB connection and a XLR connection option. So even if you plan on using a mixer for your podcast set up, the ATR-2100 is a good choice.

Other equipment options

I like to keep my equipment set up as simple as possible. I use my ATR-2100, propped up on the stand that it comes with when you order it, and a foam ball as a pop filter. I plug my ATR-2100 directly into my MacBook Pro laptop via USB, use my Apple Earbuds as my headphones, and that’s it.

Depending on your environment and the setup of the room where you’re recording, you might have other pieces of equipment like a boom arm or a mixer.

You can check out our top recommendations for all of your podcast equipment and make a decision based on what you need.

So your podcast equipment setup is pretty simple, right? At a minimum, all you need is a microphone, earbuds, and a computer or tablet to connect with your guest.

Your guest’s podcast equipment setup

A great way to ensure that your guest has the proper setup before you connect with them for the interview is to include a setup guide as a part of your booking process.

We’ve used both ScheduleOnce and Calendly for booking remote interviews, and both are great options.

ScheduleOnce and Calendly are known as scheduling software. Essentially, you sign up for the service, you set a schedule and connect it to your calendar, customize your settings, and then share a link with your potential guests so they can book a time for the interview.

Using a scheduling software is smart for multiple reasons:

  1. It saves a ton of time on back-and-forth communications trying to find a time that works for both of you
  2. You can set it up to collect all applicable info you need from your guest before the interview takes place
  3. You can set up automated reminders for the interview date and time
  4. You can include important booking and interview information within these communications, like whether you’ll be meeting via Skype or other software

A key part of setting up your scheduling software effectively is to include any requirements, like the minimum recommended equipment you’d like your guest to have for the interview.

As an example, John reminds his guests on the actual booking form — and in one of his follow up reminder emails — that the minimum required microphone to participate in the interview is the Logitech H390 USB headset.

He links to the microphone in Amazon to make it easy for his guests to snag it, and he’s never had an issue with someone showing up without this microphone (or better). The few times that someone has shown up without it (or better), the interview has been canceled.

While this might sound harsh, you have to relentlessly pursue the best for your listeners. They are counting on you to provide them with a high-quality interview, and that includes your audio file being clean.

Your Pre-Interview Chat

In addition to the requirements you include on your booking form and in your follow up reminder emails, you’ll also have an opportunity to make sure your guest’s equipment is set up properly during your pre-interview chat.

This is your opportunity to make sure they have the correct microphone input and stereo output selected in whatever recording software you’re using. Essentially, you want to do a sound check to make sure everything is coming through ok before you start recording.

The pre-interview chat is the best way to ensure a smooth interview. It gives your guest the opportunity to ask any questions they have about the setup so you can help prior to hitting record.

Your pre-interview chat might only last a couple of minutes, but it will save you hours of post-production editing and other interruptions during the interview that could potentially get in the way of a great conversation and clean audio file.

Strong Internet Connection

While all of these requirements are important when it comes to your remote podcast interview, your internet connection is key.

Without a strong internet connection your recording isn’t going to be able to take place, and having a poor connection could result in poor audio quality — not to mention several interruptions to the actual interview itself.

There are softwares that offer the option to record audio locally, and this can be a huge help when it comes to making sure your remote recording isn’t interrupted (even if you or your guest happen to get cut off at some point during your chat).

There are also a couple of ways you can ensure your internet connection stays strong throughout your interview:

  1. If you’re plan to record audio-only for your interview, it’s a good idea to turn off any video capabilities during the actual interview. This will save bandwidth since video calls require a lot more bandwidth than audio-only.
  2. If you have the ability to hardwire into your internet, do it.

What about a good old fashioned phone call?

If you’re wondering whether you can record your interview via a phone call — landline or cell phone — the answer is: not if you want a high quality recording.

Even with a great software like Zoom offering the option to call in, any connection via cell phone or landline will compromise the quality of your audio file.

While there are a lot of great programs that will help you connect and record your phone call, including both Zoom and Skype, I’d strongly recommend trying every other option possible first.

You can see for yourself just how bad the audio quality is by running a test call and recording it.

Recording Your Remote Interview

As you know by now, the sound quality of your recording is incredibly important.

In order to create a great-sounding interview that your listeners will actually enjoy tuning in to, your sound quality has to be a high priority.

When it comes to recording your podcast interview remotely, there are several options — too many to even get through here. But I do want to review some of the top recommendations we have for recording your audio.

Again, we have experience recording or participating in over 3,500 remote podcast interviews, so this is coming from a lot of trail and error experience!

Podcast Recording Software: Top Recommendations

We have personally used or tested all of the recommendations below, so we know they are great options that will provide great sound quality (given the right equipment setup). But it’s ultimately going to be up to you to choose which recording software best fits your needs.

We’d recommend testing a couple of these options out if you’ve never used any of them before and seeing which one you’re most comfortable with — and which one you feel provides the highest quality audio recording.

In no particular order…

Zencastr is an audio recording software that uses voip (voice over internet protocol) to record two sides of a conversation.

They’ve recently added the capabilities to record HD video as well, but this is still in beta at the time this content is being created.

As I mentioned earlier, some softwares offer the option to record each track locally — meaning your side of the conversation will be recorded separately and independently of your guest. Zencastr is one of those softwares.

Zencastr is a reliable and easy-to-use software for recording your podcast, and one that I’ve seen favorited by many podcasters we work with in our exclusive podcasting community, Podcasters’ Paradise.

Best part is, they have a free version where you can have up to two guests and 8 hours of recording time per month. Their paid option is super reasonable at $20 per month (or $18 per month if paid annually), and offers unlimited guests and recording time, in addition to postproduction options.

We’ve used Zencastr on multiple occasions as guests on other podcasts and have always had a good experience.

Zoom has grown exponentially in recent years with large companies and entrepreneurial startups alike.

While it started out — and is arguably most commonly known — for it’s video conferencing and webinar capabilities, Zoom also offers great one-to-one and small group meeting options.

Everything from podcast interviews with just one person, to community hangouts with dozens of people, to webinars and virtual events with hundreds can be hosted and recorded with Zoom.

There’s a pretty strong belief that Zoom doesn’t produce the same type of audio quality that other softwares do, but like with everything we’re talking about here today, you need to decide what’s best for you and your podcast. We record every one of our monthly Live Q&A calls for Podcasters’ Paradise with Zoom and we feel the quality is perfect for this purpose.

Zoom also offers a free plan where you can host up to 100 people and record up to 40 minutes. If you’re only recording with one person, the recording time is not capped.

Their Pro plan is very reasonable, starting at $14.99 per month, so if you plan to do a show with multiple guests that will last more than 40 minutes, it’d be smart to sign up for their Pro plan or higher.

Skype has largely been pushed into the background with the coming of great new software solutions like Zencastr and Zoom, but it’s actually the software we’ve been using to connect with guests for Entrepreneurs On Fire since 2012.

Skype offers the option to record both video and audio, or just audio. You also have the option to record on separate audio tracks if this is something you want to leverage in post-production.

Today Skype has a built-in call recorder, but there are also options like eCamm Call Recorder that you can add on and use with Skype to record your interview. This is the setup that I use any time I’m recording an interview for my podcast.

eCamm Call Recorder is a separate 1-time purchase and download that is very reasonable, but you don’t need to have it. It’s worth testing out the built-in call recorder that Skype offers to see if that meets your needs.

Using Skype is easy, and it’s free to download and install; however, I have heard from several podcasters that, depending on their guests’ tech-savviness, downloading and installing Skype has been a roadblock.

As with the microphone and equipment requirements you share with your guest, you’ll also need to share what software is required for the interview. This should be clearly communicated from the start and include any instructions your guest might need in order to have the software downloaded and installed prior to your interview time.

SquadCast is a software we’ve only used as a guest on others’ podcasts, but everyone who I’ve connected with on it has raved about it.

SquadCast is kind of the new kid on the block, and while it doesn’t allow for recording video interviews just yet, it does have a simple interface and audio recording setup.

Like Zencastr, SquadCast records your audio and your guest’s audio locally, so you will have two separate audio tracks for your post-production.

While many podcasters look at two audio tracks as a plus — since you can do more of a deep-dive on your editing — I’ve always found it to be annoying. To each their own!

Podcast Recording Reminders and Hacks

Now that you know what’s required for a remote podcast recording, how to record podcast interviews using several different pieces of software, and what NOT to do when it comes to ensuring you’re producing high quality audio (no, no on the phone call!), let’s talk about one of the lesser known podcast recording hacks — and a critical reminder.

Recording Reminder: Don’t forget to hit record!

Yes! This really does happen — and probably more often than one would think.

There are so many boxes to check when you’re getting ready to record a podcast interview, and sometimes the excitement and nerves can get the best of you.

It might be helpful to develop some sort of podcasting script you can use — certain steps and language you walk through every single time with your guest as you prepare to dive into your interview.

For example, if part of your pre-interview chat is scripted — and always includes as the very last thing you say to your guest “Alright, let me just get everything set up and then I’ll hit record”, then you’re essentially reminding yourself every single time that you need to hit record.

Another great way to remember this critical step in the process: create a recording checklist.

Recording Hack: Create a recording checklist

You’d be amazed at how valuable a simple recording checklist can be.

While it might not seem like you need a checklist, no matter how many times you’ve hit the record button, the best way to ensure you never skip a step is to follow this hack!

Your recording checklist can be as simple or as in-depth as you need. What’s important is that it includes all the steps you take each time you record a podcast episode.

Here’s an example of what your recording checklist might look like:

  • Make sure you’re in a controlled environment conducive to recording great audio
  • Put up your “do not disturb sign”
  • Turn off notifications (cell phone, computer)
  • Windows and doors are closed
  • Your software is up-to-date
  • It’s a good practice to restart any programs you’ll be using to record / connect w/ others, like:
  • Skype, Zoom, Zencastr, etc
  • Web browser
  • Audition / Garageband / Audacity
  • You’re comfortable!
  • You have water (room temp — ice water irritates the throat)
  • Lip balm (helps with lip smacking)
  • Your clothes, hair, and body temperature are set
  • If you’re doing video, check to be sure your lighting / settings are in good shape
  • If it’s a live recording, confirm listeners / viewers can hear / see you
  • Test your mic settings to be sure the correct device is being picked up by your software & audio is coming through clear
  • Test to be sure your recording is coming through (audio waves are moving)
  • Be respectful of timing (set a timer, or have a clock nearby you can easily check)
  • Be sure to actually start recording!

Remote Podcast Recording Success!

We hope that with these tips, recommendations, and samples you’re feeling all set up for remote podcast recording success!

Remember, not everything will be perfect — especially not the first several times. Be patient, and know that the more you practice and test different things out, the faster you’ll find a setup that works great for you and your podcast.

If you’re looking for even more great podcast tips, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide: How To Podcast!

Originally published at https://www.eofire.com on August 6, 2020.

Kate is the engine at Entrepreneurs On Fire, the host of the podcast Ditch Busy, & co-author of The Podcast Journal: Idea to Launch in 50 Days.

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