Skype for podcasts
by Andrew Hughes – 13th February, 2020
Generally, most podcast studios want to get all the contributors into the studio. Not only does it make for better interaction between guests through eye contact etc, it also means that the studio has full control of the audio quality. But what happens when one of the contributors is in a different city and simply can’t travel? Andrew Hughes looks at the options.
We were recently asked to record a health and beauty podcast, something we do quite a lot of. However this time, one of the contributors was in their beach house in Australia. The client didn’t have the budget to put the contributor into a voice studio in Australia and then connect by ISDN or SourceConnect. Besides, it was the middle of the night there!. There was no option but to record at the client’s own home using Skype. Skype is a fantastic way to record interviews in pretty good quality and many radio stations are using it to great success. Here’s our advice for getting the best out of the software:
Get the level of background noise right.
If you’re under an airport flight path, you might need to choose a different venue for the recording. Find a really quiet spot with limited background noise and where you won’t be disturbed.
If you have a little background noise, make a feature of it. In the example above, we could hear the sea and waves. “Joining us from her office overlooking the Australian coastline” was a great way to intro the guest.
Consider the acoustics.
This is very important. You don’t want to sound like you’re in a bathroom. The simple rule is to surround yourself with as many soft items as possible and as few hard items. Hard items make sound bounce, while soft ones absorb sound and make to sound like you’re in a studio. Some voice artists record by putting a duvet over their heads, which kills off all echoes and sounds great.
Whilst you may not be able to put bedding over your guest’s head, you can still apply the same principle. Remove them from the office with the glass walls and enormous wooden table. We suggest you try one of the following:
- A room with thick curtains, carpets, soft sofas
- Arrange two fabric office desk dividers at 90 degrees and speak at 45 degrees directly into the corner
- Even just place a few cushions around yourself on your desk as you’re doing the interview. You may feel a bit self conscious but it will sound significantly better
Use the right equipment.
You should either use a headset plugged directly into your PC or Mac, or install the Skype app on your mobile phone and hold the phone directly to your ear. Whichever device you use, you want the microphone to be as close as possible to your mouth. Mics built into laptops will not sound good.
Make sure your internet connection is stable
If you are using a headset with a PC or Mac, make sure your device is on LAN and not wifi.Likewise if you are using Skype on your phone, please make sure you have a strong wifi or 4G signal.
To summarise, Skype is a great way to connect to your guests for podcasts but you need to take a few simple steps to ensure good sound quality. Podcast listeners expect decent quality as standard these days and are likely to move on if your podcast doesn’t sound right.
Find out more about our podcast service: https://www.radiofacilities.com/podcasts/