How to Record Skype Calls for a Podcast
Are you looking for the best way to record Skype calls for your podcast?
With over 300 million active users each month, Skype is one of the leading voice call and video chat applications in the world. The company was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for a mind-blowing $8.5 billion. Skype is a great option for podcasters.
You can connect with people practically anywhere in the world and have high-quality audio or video conversations. But Skype doesn’t give you a way to record those calls.
In this post, I’m going to show you four ways that you can record Skype calls. And I’ll cover solutions for both new and experienced podcasters. So let’s get started!
How to Record Skype Calls for a Podcast
1. Skype Call Recording Software
Cost: Low | Complexity: Low
Using call recording software is the simplest and easiest way to record Skype calls. You just install a piece of software on your computer, and you’re all set.
You make Skype calls as you normally would, but you’ll now also see a record button. Click that button, and your Skype call gets recorded. When finished with your call, click the stop button, and you’re recorded file is automatically saved to your computer, ready for editing and publishing.
Two of the most popular call recording software products are Ecamm’s Call Recorder for Skype (Mac) and Pamela for Skype (Windows). And they’ll record both audio and video Skype calls. Both of these products offer trial versions so you can try them out, but you’ll need to spend around $20 to $30 if you want to get the full functionality.
Using call recording software does have some limitations. For example, you don’t have the option to control your recording settings. And if your computer crashes during the Skype call, then you’ll lose whatever you had recorded so far. But if you’re looking for an easy and simple way to record Skype calls, then this could be the best option for you.
2. Skype and Portable Digital Recorder
Cost: Medium | Complexity: Medium
If you’re looking for a more reliable solution than call recording software, you should consider using a portable digital recorder such as the Zoom H1 or Roland R-O5.
The biggest benefit of using one of these devices is that won’t lose what you’ve recorded if your computer crashes during a Skype call. And as soon as your computer restarts, you can continue your recording from where you left off.
To set up your Skype recording, just plug one end of a 3.5mm stereo cable into your portable digital recorder and the other end into the headphone jack of your computer. And also remember to plug your headphones into the headphone jack on your portable digital recorder so that you can hear the call too. Once you’ve started your Skype call, just press the record button on your device, and you’re all set.
However, there are a couple of downsides to this approach. Firstly, by plugging your headphones into the portable digital recorder instead of your computer, you’ll most likely experience a slight delay in hearing your voice. This delay could be distracting for you.
The second downside is that you’ll need to spend somewhere between $100 to $250 to buy a portable digital recorder if you don’t already own one. But if you’re worried about losing a recording if your computer crashes and having to start the interview all over again, a portable digital recorder might be worth the investment.
3. Skype and Recording Mixer
Cost: High | Complexity: High
If you want to produce higher-quality recordings and have more control over audio levels, then you should consider using a mixer to record your Skype calls.
This solution is known as a ‘mix minus’ setup. You setup all your input sources e.g. your microphone, audio of your Skype caller, etc. to go into the mixer. And then you send all the audio from the mixer, back to Skype but without (i.e. minus) your Skype caller’s audio (so they hear everything except their voice).
Using ‘mix minus’ gives you more control over your recording quality. For example, you can use the mixer to adjust audio levels for your microphone or your guest’s audio coming out of Skype. And you can add additional input sources to your mixer such as a second microphone if you have a co-host with you.
To record Skype calls, you output the audio from the mixer directly into a portable digital recorder such as a Zoom H1. Or if you have a mixer, but you don’t have a portable digital recorder, then you can output the audio from your mixer back to your computer and record directly in software such as Garage Band or Adobe Audition.
Using software to record your calls, introduces some risks e.g. if the software crashes while you’re recording. But some podcasters such as Entrepreneur on Fire’s John Lee Dumas does just this. And he’s recorded over 1500 episodes this way.
The other benefit of using ‘mix minus’ with a mixer is that you won’t hear a delay with your voice. And that alone may be a good reason for you to consider this approach instead of recording directly into a portable digital recorder without a mixer.
A mixer can be a significant investment and will cost you anywhere from $150 to $1000. But if you’re serious about podcasting and care about having a robust recording solution and high-quality recordings, it may very well be worth the time and investment.
4. Double Ender Recording
Cost: Low | Complexity: High
One of the downsides of recording a Skype call is that no matter what your setup, your voice will always sound better than your Skype caller’s voice.
You’re recording your voice directly from your microphone into your computer or recording device. But your Skype caller’s audio has to go across the internet and loses some quality along the way.
One way to get around this problem is to record what’s known as a ‘double ender.’ With this approach, both you and your Skype caller record your own audio for your own computers. And then your Skype caller sends you their audio file for you to mix in post-production.
If your Skype caller knows what they are doing, then you will end up with a significantly higher quality Skype call. It will sound like both you and your guest are sitting together in the same room.
You can have your Skype caller use the call recording software that we looked at earlier in this post. Or you can ask them to record their microphone output directly into Quicktime (for Mac) or Voice Recorder (for Windows).
The downside of this approach is that it relies on your Skype caller to record everything on their end correctly. And it creates a little more work for you to sync their recording back with your voice in post-production.
It’s an approach worth testing if your Skype caller is fairly confident and competent. However, as a backup, I would still record everything on your end using one of the three approaches we’ve already looked at.
Choosing the Right Solution
So which of these solutions is right for you? That depends on the following factors:
- How much complexity are you willing to deal with to improve the sound quality of your Skype recordings?
- What equipment e.g. mixer, portable digital recorder, etc. do you already have, and what you’re willing to invest in?
- Doing what’s right for your audience e.g. are most people happy with what you’re already doing?
As a general rule of thumb, start with the simplest solution. Get comfortable with that first and then try some of the different approaches I’ve described here. What questions do you still have? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer.