With solutions like Skype, teleconference software, and VOIP, you'd think recording two people across the world from one another would be the easiest thing in the world. It's not. And it's quite frustrating.
Sure, if you have two folks with excellent equipment and high bandwidth, it can be done. The problem arises when you have guests on your podcast from around the world who don't have either the hardware or the bandwidth. The result is that you often have interviews where you sound amazing, and your guest sounds like they're on string and tin can.
Great quality audio eats up 320kbps or more of bandwidth, so it's not uncommon for audio transmission services to compress or clip audio to lower their bandwidth requirements or to benefit customers with lower bandwidth. Either way, it's not good for you when recording.
Let's walk through some common voice platforms and issues:
- Skype – While Skype is widely adopted and often available behind corporate firewalls, the audio transmitted isn't always at its fullest quality. Even with a great microphone and bandwidth, the sound can clip and lack the fidelity of each of the sources. And if you're utilizing a Skype recorder, you can't work independently on each voice track.
- Teleconference Software – Skype for Business, Webex, GoToMeeting, Uberconference… all solid platforms but they have a few setbacks. First, not everyone uses them. Second, enterprises often block ports that may require the software. Third, they don't always have the best audio quality, either. Fourth and worst – if you get knocked off the line, many of the platforms don't allow you to re-engage.
- VOIP – you'd think after almost a century and a half of phone technology that we'd have this beat. We don't. VOIP technology is everywhere, but it's a mess. You're often connecting through a multitude of services and layers, adding a ton opportunity for issues. And, as with other communications technologies, they allow for lower fidelity to deal with the varying bandwidth capabilities of their customers.
Thankfully, podcasting has risen to such prominence that there are quite a few services popping up to overcome these issues.
Podcast Recording Services
- BlogTalkRadio – we had a very large following on BTR but eventually left it due to the quality issues on their platform. We wound up abandoning their real-time web interface altogether and opted for post-loading our content. However, if you're just starting out, want something very simple, this may be the right solution. On our quest for great audio, it was a bust.
- Bodalgo – Bodalgo isn't a service originallly built for this… it was built for finding voice-over and translation talent online and having them record the results. However, Bodalgo has promoted the service for podcasters to utilize. You get a unique URL where your guest connects, enables permission to their microphone, and you're connected and can record the high fidelity audio locally. Bodalgo also recently added video capabilities!
- ipDTL – ipDTL will try to establish a peer-to-peer connection between guests and provides a Chrome-based interface for recording the audio. The service comes with a dedicated show page and guests can even dial-in if they'd like.
- RINGR – this service may have my vote as the best option, but it's still not without some limitations. The reason why I'd lean in this direction is that RINGR offers both a desktop version and a mobile application. If you can get your guest to download the mobile app and they have a great microphone, you're in business!
- Source-Connect – Industry-standard ISDN replacement with a deep feature-set for all your remote audio recording and monitoring needs. Record and monitor from anywhere in the world, using your professional tools.
- Zencastr – We've shared about Zencastr before, a great multi-track online recording service for podcasts. Unfortunately, it does require a desktop browser that requires permission for the microphone.
And how about that microphone? If you're working directly from your Mac or iPhone, I'm a huge fan of Apogee's MiC 96k. If you're a podcaster that is on the go and needs to record one or more guests directly from your iPhone, Shure sent me an MV88 condenser microphone, and it's amazing!
Note: You'll find some great testing of Zencastr, RINGR, and IPDTL over at Current, where Adam Ragusea wrote an in-depth article on each service and its capabilities.
Disclosure: We're now an affiliate of RINGR and used our affiliate link in this post. We also used our Amazon affiliate links for the microphones.