Best practices for remote audio recording

Laptop with sound wave on the screen next to a boom mic

Remote audio recording opens up a world of possibilities to podcasters everywhere — literally, everywhere. Want to interview an expert who lives halfway around the world? No problem. Co-host going out of town for a few weeks? They can still create new shows with you from afar, and to hell with their vacation.

New recording technology makes capturing a conversation between two or more people in different locations totally possible; and editing tool like Descript makes it easy to make up for what you lose in sound quality by recording over the internet or the phone. With the right equipment and software, you can capture high-quality audio from anywhere in the world — even Nebraska — that sounds like all of the speakers were sitting in the same recording studio.

Quick note: if you’re already up and running with remote recording, but looking to up your game, we’ve got a newsletter article on that.

Plus it’s a fully powered editing suite that does everything you need to make a great podcast. If you know how to edit a doc, you’re ready to get started.
Descript makes editing audio as easy as editing text.

Why record remotely?

Nothing beats recording a podcast in person. It’s easier to engage with guests when you’re in the same room, and you’ll always achieve the highest-quality sound when you record everything in a studio environment. But sometimes you just can’t do that — perhaps you’re on different continents, or in different parts of Nebraska. Or maybe, for instance, a global pandemic has kept you and your guests from being physically together. Also maybe you don’t have the resources to rent or set up a recording studio. That’s when remote recording comes in handy, and there are some distinctive advantages to going remote (note: if you’re already convinced and just want to know how to do it, skip ahead).

  • You can connect with guests and co-hosts around the world. With remote recording, it’s not a big deal to bring on guests and experts who are located in other cities and countries or even on different continents. You can also easily record crossover podcasts with other shows in your niche, which can help expand your audience, even if your respective teams aren’t located in the same city.
  • You can record multiple people in multiple places. Forget cramming too many people into your tiny, hot studio. With a good setup, you can remotely record three, four, six, or even more guests from wherever they may be while maintaining studio-quality sound.
  • It allows for scheduling flexibility. It can be difficult to coordinate a studio visit with a busy guest. A remote recording session makes it much easier for your guest to find the time to chat with you, because there’s no travel time required.
  • It’s budget-friendly. Sure, you may need to invest in an extra USB microphone (more on that below), but if you set up a remote session, you eliminate any costs of long-distance travel to and from your guest.
  • You can get great audio quality. If you’re using Descript, anyway. Studio Sound will not only strip away background noise, but it will break down and regenerate speakers’ voices, so it sounds like they were recorded in a studio. You can also use EQ, compression and other mixing tools to polish your audio (most editing tools have that stuff).

7 Tips for Better Remote Recording

It’s now easier than ever to create a high-quality remote video recording and audio recording that’s fit for a podcast. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Optimize your recording studio

Make sure you’re in the best, quietest possible space — just as you would anytime you record a podcast. (Check out our guide to setting up a home recording studio for more tips on creating the best recording space.)  

Send your guest a remote recording set-up

If your guest doesn’t already have access to a recording space, and you can afford it, consider mailing them a kit that includes:

  • A microphone
  • A mic stand
  • A pop filter

Opt for an easy-to-use USB mic that plugs into their computer and requires minimal setup — you don’t want to spend an hour walking your guest through a complicated installation process over the phone. Something like the Samson Meteor Mic is a great option because it’s simple, small, and budget-friendly. Plus, it has a built-in stand. You’ll also want to include a pop filter (if the USB mic doesn’t have one built-in) to mellow out harsh plosives like “p,” “t,” and “b” sounds.

Share recording best practices with your guest

Request that your guest wear headphones during the session so their audio recording doesn’t pick up interference from the conversation. To reduce background noise, remind them to record in a space that has lots of soft surfaces (carpet, upholstered furniture) and preferably one that doesn’t have any large appliances like refrigerators or air conditioners. Also ask them to turn off notifications on their phone and computer.

Use video

Even if you’re not planning to publish a video podcast, use some sort of video feed so that you and your guest or co-host can see each other while you record. Seeing each others’ reactions goes a long way toward establishing a comfortable repartee.

Host fewer people at once

Yes, you can usually record multiple remote speakers at once, but the more internet connections you’re dealing with, the greater the risk that something might go wrong. Make it easier on yourself and everyone involved by reducing the number of people in a remote session.

Pick the right remote recording platform

The best way to record a remote podcast is to use one of the many remote voice recorder apps available at a range of prices. Each has advantages and disadvantages — some support video recording while others don’t. Some compress audio files into smaller, easy-to-send MP3s while others maintain the larger, higher-quality WAVE files. Some programs require all users to have an account, others don’t. Here are a few that may work for you:

  • SquadCast requires no setup or installation, making it easy on your guests. It also creates local recordings, saving each speaker’s audio to their computer before backing it up to the cloud. This reduces the chance that you might lose an audio track due to a bad internet connection. It also records split tracks for up to four participants. Bonus if you’re editing in Descript: you can click a button to send your file directly to Descript, start the transcription process, and get started edited in moments.
  • records locally and creates separate audio tracks and video tracks for everyone. It includes a range of editing tools and is also particularly good if you’re interested in live-streaming a video podcast to Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook Live. Riverside also has an Edit in Descript button that lets you export directly, with no endless downloading.
  • By using Descript in tandem with Riverside or SquadCast, or a widely used remote conferencing application like Zoom, you get the benefits of a familiar and easy-to-use call software as well as Descript’s automatic transcription feature and intuitive, collaborative editing tools.  

Make a backup recording

With so many moving pieces and recordings happening in different locations, it’s a good idea to make back-ups. You can use a portable recorder like the Zoom H1n to record the session (and send one to your guest as well if you’re extra nervous). If your call recorder app doesn’t work at all, you can fall back on what’s called a “double-ender.” Each guest or co-host independently records their own audio at the source, and then you stitch the audio tracks together in post-production.

How to record remote audio with Descript

First, let’s note that while you can definitely record in Descript, there are some great remote-recording tools out there that also work seamlessly with Descript. As noted above, if you record your podcast in Riverside or SquadCast, you’ll be able to export the resulting file to Descript by just clicking Edit in Descript. Same if you recorded a live-stream in Restream and want to edit it for a podcast, or anything.

As an all-in-one audio and video editor, Descript has a number of features that make it ideal for remote collaboration. By using it along with an online conference application like Zoom, you can record high-quality, multitrack audio from your microphone and the computer output using the Computer Audio feature.* Then, you and your remote collaborators can annotate the resulting transcript and edit the audio simply by changing the text. Descript allows you to set membership types, too, so you could invite a guest to view the transcript and leave comments, but only allow your remote co-host to actually make edits. And then, of course, you have all of Descript’s editing, mixing, and effects features to polish your pod up in one place.

Learn how to capture remote interviews in Descript in our Help Center.

*Please note, this feature is currently only available on MacOS; Windows compatibility is planned for a future update, and until then, Windows users can check out our guide to recording Windows computer audio into Descript to route audio from third-party applications.

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