<steps up on soapbox>
In the facebook groups and in numerous emails I get each month, I see regular questions from podcasters about recording interviews on Skype. There are plenty of solutions out there for recording Skype calls, but the quality is still going to sound like Skype. In the pursuit of GREAT SOUND, I'd like to make a plea for more people to try recording interviews the "old-fashioned" way. The double-ender.
Thankfully we don't have to be old-fashioned anymore because we have awesome computers and most people have earbuds with a microphone built in. If my 73 yo mom can hook her earbuds up to her phone or computer to make a call, then I bet your guests can use them to record an interview. Just the other day, I had an author in their late-50s who only uses their computer for email record a double-ender with me.
Recording a double-ender takes the same amount of technical knowledge as it does to make a Skype call or email someone a file and can be done in a similar amount of steps.
HOW TO record an interview using the Double-ender method.
Step 1. Use Quicktime on Mac OS X or Voice Recorder (formerly known as Sound Recorder) on Windows.
If they were using Skype anyway, they are hopefully already hooked up to their computer in the right way with their earbuds. For both platforms, audio input level is set and similar to the level you'd get in Skype when using earbuds. Also, before starting your interview, countdown together "3, 2, 1 CLAP" to create an audio marker to ease in lining up files (optional).
Quicktime instructions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201066
*Open Quicktime from the Applications folder
1. Choose File > New Audio Recording.
2. To change the recording settings, click the arrow next to the Record button. Then choose their ear buds and "high" recording quality.
3. Turn the volume slider all the way down (to the left).
4. Click the Record button to start recording. Click it again to stop recording.
Voice Recorder instructions: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/instantanswers/1481dfb5-8c22-4707-baad-e1dc059500ef/how-to-use-voice-recorder
1. In the Search option of the taskbar type “Microphone privacy settings” without quotes and press enter.
2. In the right side, make sure “Let apps use my microphone” slider is on state.
3. Also make sure Windows voice recorder app is turned on in the “Choose apps that can use your microphone” section.
4. Open Voice Recorder from wherever you fun Windows people find programs these days and turn their speaker volume all the way down or hit mute.
5. Hit the big Record button to start and stop.
Step 2. Have your guest send you their file.
In QuickTime Player, choose File > Export >Audio Only and export the file to their desktop. In Windows go to Documents > Sound Recordings. I recommend using DropBox, WeTransfer or other similar file sharing services to send their file to you.
I realize that most hosts want to make it as easy as possible on their guest. That's a very valid concern. I would also say that besides being really important to the success of your show, good quality distraction-free audio devoid of sky---pe interferrrrrr ence or echos (echos) is (is) also (also) important for your guests.
They are likely sharing their wisdom and they want to SOUND GREAT and have everyone hear all their words. They might be selling something or have products, articles, wisdom they want people to check out later. It's in their best interest to put in a few minutes to help you get the best quality audio possible.
Oh... and if you still want to use Skype, please please please have your guests use ear buds with built-in mic at the very least. That will prevent most Skype "echos" (bleed).
<steps down from soap box>
If you are reading this blog, you are interested in growth... of your knowledge, your talent, your ability, your skills, your business, etc.
All too often these days, everything you read or watch in the online education space is trying to get you to learn something faster, better, CHEAPER, etc. You've heard the expression "there's an app for that?" Well, it is true that technology can help you do things cheaper and faster BUT it's not always going to lead to you doing it better or understanding it better.
If you are trying to learn something that involves creativity like recording music or you want to have a career in recording, rarely is there a quick or cheap path. You have to invest the time. And more importantly, you will have to invest the money.
Invest in quality tools and education that will support you on your journey. All too often we are tempted to find the free or cheap way to accomplish something... OR find an illegal copy of something in order for us to try out this hobby that we might want to turn into a career. I'm not going to say I haven't tried cracked versions of software before, but I always had to buy the full version to make things work consistently and to get the full benefit from them.
I believe that going for the cheap or free option is the wrong path to take. You need to spend money on quality proven tools and on quality education from professionals. While this will likely save you some headaches, I believe there is a more important psychological reason for spending good money on quality.
If you don't invest good money, you are communicating to yourself that you aren't serious. You're dipping your toe in the pool and saying that if it's too cold, you aren't jumping in. You can't succeed that way. You have to jump in the deep end and take some risks in order to be successful.
How loud should you record? As an editor and mixer, I often get tracks that are recorded too soft or too loud. Here's a quick and easy way to always know if you are recording at a good level.
Definition of "clipping" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_%28audio%29
I love this quote. It sums up why it is so important to have a coach or mentor. Or why it's important to bring in a qualified professional to do something that you might not have experience doing.
You may have also heard the cliche don't reinvent the wheel. Similar idea. When we start to learn something new we often don't want to listen to someone with more experience. Maybe we think we're going to do it differently or figure out some new way of doing things. You might, but most likely not.
Someone who is a professional or expert at something has already made hundreds of mistakes while learning to do what they now do so well. And for some reason, those same mistakes occur when anyone else starts to learn how to do the same thing. It saves a lot of time to listen to those people when they warn you about mistakes to avoid. Trust me, they know.
That's the main reason I started this site. At first it's a place for you to learn how to avoid all the mistakes I made as I learned my craft. And as it grows, I want it to be a place for you to learn from each other and share your own mistakes.
And remember, sometimes mistakes lead to some new idea or technique. So, listen to me, but don't be afraid to make your own big mistakes and find out something new.
Do you have a personal project sitting around at home. You know the one I'm talking about. That song that you just can't get right... that you work on every few days in your free-time after work.
Maybe you're a group who's recorded a song 3 times and still don't like the energy.
What about that mix that you've been working on for 3 months but just aren't satisfied with...?
STOP and just GET IT OUT THERE!!!
1. You're stealing your creative energy from future projects and getting frustrated. Frustration is one of the worst things you can go through as an artist. I know it's your baby, but you have to let your baby leave the nest at some point.
2. You need feedback to grow and you won't get feedback until someone hears it. Yes, even negative feedback. Both criticism and praise will help you learn more about what your audience wants to hear from you.
3. You're depriving your audience. You are creating things in order to entertain them. No matter who they are, that's why your audience is there. TO BE ENTERTAINED BY YOU... Why are you keeping them from being entertained.
I've devoured plenty of books by veteran artists and engineers, heard too many interviews to count, and listened to many panels at conventions. If Grammy winning engineers feel like they never get it 100% right, how are you going to get there? Trust me, you'll never get that last 5 - 10% towards perfect. Perfect is impossible.
As long as you've done your best and what you created has integrity, you can be happy to let the world see what you've done.
Done is better than perfect. Get it out there.
Which side of the microphone are you supposed to sing into? You'd think this would be obvious but it usually isn't. In this video, I help you avoid this mistake that I've made several times in the past.
Look for the gold dot on an NT1a.
Other brands use their logo to indicate which side you should use.
Switches will usually be on the back side of the microphone.