Podcasts and skipping Skype

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Reader Steve Larson has had it up to here with Skype. He writes:

A friend who lives across the country and I have been trying to put together a podcast using Skype and recording both sides of the conversation. We’ve had a ton of problems including lost connections and bad sound. Is there another way?

I participate in a few podcasts that use Skype and I have to agree with you. Free though it may be, recording podcasts over Skype is a pain in the neck. It sounds better than recording a telephone conversation over speakerphone, but you do put up with constant disconnections (particularly when recording conferences) and wonky sound.

Increasingly I’ve seen people employ the dual-recording technique. This is where each of you gets on the phone (or Skype, if you prefer), everyone who’s part of the conversation launches an audio recording application on their computers, and they record their end of the conversation. Ideally, those recording will be in the same, editable format.

One member of the podcast asks that, on the count of three, everyone claps loudly just before the podcast begins. This produces an audio spike that’s easily discerned in the resulting recordings’ waveforms. When the podcast concludes, everyone saves their recording and ships it off to whoever is responsible for editing the podcast.

That person imports each of the individual files into GarageBand (or the multitrack audio editor they prefer), switches on waveform viewing (if it’s not on by default), and lines up the tracks using the clap spike at the beginning of the recordings as a reference. The resulting sound is far superior than anything you’ll get from Skype.

This is a less-than-ideal setup when you have anyone but your best friends and colleagues on your podcast. Asking a complete stranger to go through this rigmarole is a bit much. In such cases, head back to Skype, iChat (if you can stand the audio quality), the speakerphone, or arrange to meet in person.

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