I remember sorting through a few methods for recording the All Things Interesting Podcast which changed from one episode to the next before I ultimately settled on a solution that I felt was not only practical, but provided the best quality for my guest and I. Depending on how you are recording your show, different options will be available to you. To keep this fairly straight forward, I am going to focus this for individuals who are recording their show remotely. For a bit of reference here, my first episode with Kasian Franks of Vector Space AI was recorded three times using an assortment of different recording methods.
It’s true that there are a dozen or so options to record your podcast remotely which include Discord, Skype, Zencaster, Cast, Go To Meeting, Clear Cast , and the list goes on… I only used a handful of platforms I mentioned so to give an objective look at our options, I am going to run through these. One more thing to note, I spent quite a bit of time researching the options listed above when I first started my podcast.
Discord is most well known for being a communication platform for gamers. What many don’t know though, is that Discord can also be used to record audio for your podcast using a little bot called “Craig“. With Craig, users are able to record multi channel audio with each user getting a separate downloadable file. What’s more is that each speakers audio is able to be modified on the fly which is one of the more important features across platforms. Now what makes Craig convenient for those looking to record their podcast compared to other platforms, is that its already embedded in a VOIP platform and provides a very easy to interface based on text commands.
On the downside, users often run into an assortment of issues such as intermittent call failures, lack of recording indicators which can can result in not capturing the full recording. All that said, Discord is a viable no frill options for anyone that is looking to put together a recording with no money down.
With Skype’s recently added record feature, the platform is a no brainer for anyone who is looking to record both the audio and video of their show. Skype is a widely known application with simple functionality that anyone should be able to pick up in a matter of minutes. When it comes to quality, Skype would be a middle of the road option that is highly dependent on your connection quality. On a good day, your results will be a clear sounding MP3 recording (if you aren’t an audiophile) and you will be provided two recording too boot. One for your side and one for your guest. This is free and clear a great option if you manage to avoid any latency related issues during the call.
A couple of things to consider are that you are fairly restricted by the MP3 files as they are not recommended for post processing edits. Secondly, the output quality of both the audio and video are heavily dependent on your connection and backups are not provided in case of a call drop. That withstanding, I would recommend everyone who is starting off, to give Skype a try as it is free and easy to use.
Being one of the most highly touted options on the r/podcasts Subreddit, I was eager to give Zencastr’s 30 day free trial a chance. What I came to find, was a platform that attempted to provide the podcast market a surefire solution but came up short in one major way. Let me be clear when I say this. Zencaster is a great option if you are looking for audio quality, ease of use, and accessibility. That is if you are willing to deal with the dreaded “audio drift” In the company’s defense, this is something they clearly cover in their FAQ section of their website. None the less, audio drift occurs when a recording exceeds a certain amount of time and both tracks become out of sync. This can cause a whole host of editing work to align the tracks together. I think it is important that people are aware of this as it took up quite a bit of time to re align the tracks, especially when you are paying a premium for the service.
All that aside, I think one of the best perks of ZenCaster is that they offer a subscription level which provides you with .wav formatted recordings. This makes it easy to download and drop into your preferable editing software for final post processing. Other features which stand out include live soundboard editing, and automatic post production. Unfortunately I did not use either of these features while running the trial subscription. All in all, if you can put up with the audio drift and premium cost, Zencastr is a solid option for the podcast aficionado.
Not as well-known as the aforementioned platforms, Try.Cast was mentioned sporadically on various Subedits as an alternative to many of the other recommended options. Being in the early phase of my podcast, I saw every platform as an option, and Cast is no exception. Similar to Zencaster, Cast offers a multiple tiered and multi feature platform that was designed directly for the hobbyist and pro podcasters alike. The Cast trial provides a 1 month test drive of the Hobby plan which provides 10 hours of recording time, unlimited editing and mixing, unlimited hosting, and one RSS feed. Seeing as I am only interested in the recording capabilities, the extra features would better suite those looking for an all in one solution. None the less, the Cast platform handles like a Toyota. Affordable, reliable, and gets you from point A to B. The platform is very well rounded in its functionality though there are a few minor gripes to be aware of.
The editing and mixing functionality is great in theory, but comes up short on accuracy and convenience relative to a standalone editing software such as Audacity. Now that is completely understandable if we were able to re upload our files into Cast for final mixing and optimization, which leads me to my second gripe. Although currently being discussed as a future feature, Cast does not currently support downloaded .wav files. This can be quite frustrating when you have to choose between an .mp3 and an editing functionality that feels largely disjointed. None the less, what Cast lacks in post processing editing, it makes up for in its competitive pricing, recording quality, and ability to avoid audio drift. If you are looking for something that is simple and gets the job done, Cast is a very solid option.
In their own way, each of these options are a solid solution depending on what you are looking for as a podcaster. If you are looking to get up and running with minimal costs, options like Skype and Discord offer a no frills answer. If you have already forayed into the podcasting and are well on your way to the top spot on Apple Podcasts, Zencaster’s Pro Tier is a strong contender if you are recording remotely. That said, I believe that Cast offers the most well rounded middle of the road solution to anyone that is dipping their feet into podcasting and are looking for a well-priced and reliable platform for their recording needs.
For those interested in giving Cast a try, I have dropped in a link below.
As always, make sure to check out my prior write ups on starting a podcast! Start a Podcast: Part 1