Podcast Basics

Improve Your Zoom, etc. Podcast Interview Audio With These Simple Tips

Do you use Zoom, Skype, or another online conference system to record your podcast?

Many podcast producers use an online conferencing system to conduct their podcast interviews. Services such as Zoom.us or Skype offer a very cost-effective method to host a multi-person interview that includes 1 or 2 hosts and up to several guests all at the same time, and records the conversation onto an audio file that you then edit and assemble into your podcast.

The way these online conference services work, everyone connects to a cloud-based service using several different methods, such as dialing in on a telephone or cell phone, a computer browser, or even an App on your smartphone. However, due to the audio compression and processing that these services use, in order to deliver a small file and use less bandwidth, sometimes you’ll notice that your audio quality suffers.

The largest problem I encounter as a professional podcast editor, is when 2 or more people “step on” each other, or begin speaking at the same time, or try to talk over each other at the same time. This causes the audio to lag and the online computer is trying to compensate by switching too quickly to each person, and when it does this, part of the signal gets lost in the shuffle, or one of the people speaking gets muted.

So in order to prevent this audio break up from happening when using an online conference system such as Zoom.us or Skype, just keep in mind that when one person is speaking, that all other people should be quiet and wait for the person speaking to pause; or better yet, decide up front before you start that once someone finishes speaking and you want to interject, mentally count to 3 before speaking. This allows the last person a chance to pause and keep going if needed, or allows you to interject or start speaking without causing the audio to break up, and keeps everyone from interrupting and “stepping” on each other.

Another way to reduce these technical hiccups is to refrain from vocalizing affirmations while the other person is speaking. Avoid non-verbal sounds or affirmations such as “hmmmm”, “ahhhh”, “ohh”, or verbal responses such as “I see”, or “I agree” or “interesting”; these very short interjections when the other party is speaking will cause enough delay sometimes to make the audio hiccup and stutter just enough to be noticeable.

Also, please understand that while you are conducting the interview you probably will not hear these slight delays and cross talks in real time. This is why it is important to be wary of them ahead of time. These hiccups and delays are usually only noticeable upon playing back the recording once you have finished - and of course it’s too late at that point.

Please note these tricks are applicable only when conducting the interview using an online conference system, and does not apply to in-person interviews using microphones sitting at a table.

A couple of other tips I can offer anyone using an online conference system to conduct podcast interviews:

  • Don’t use video. Turn video OFF before starting the conference. Video uses so much more bandwidth and causes issues with the recording due to unreliable or weak internet connections

  • Try to not use WiFi whenever possible. If you are on a computer, try to use a hardwire (LAN) connection instead of WiFi from your router.

  • If you must use WiFi, run a speed test utility before joining the conference, such as Speakeasy If your UPLOAD speed is less than 1Mbps maybe try moving your computer closer to the router or plugging directly into the router with a cable

I hope these simple tips will help improve your interview recordings. If you should have any questions about the audio quality tips and tricks listed here, please reach out to me at tom@knvpstudios.com.

KNVP Studios is a professional podcast editing and publishing company, and we have been in business since 2015. We have serviced over a thousand podcast episodes for dozens and dozens of clients throughout the world, many of which we helped launch from scratch. If you should be interested in starting your own podcast from scratch, please get in touch via email at: tom@knvpstudios.com or visit our website: www.knvpstudios.com