2011 Podcast recording guide with Skype and free software

by Mike · 0 comments

Update: Dan now has a 2014 version of his guide.

Having recently gone through the process of learning how to properly record a podcast involving a remote party, I figured I would document it all here since a lot of the posts that I found on the subject were old, and many of the software applications have updated their versions and the configurations have changed even if only slightly.  I’d like to give credit to the post that got me most of the way through which was this one from 2005.  Sadly the author gave up on making this work.  I’d also like to give a lot of credit to Dan Benjamin at 5by5 for this Podcasting Equipment guide and his archived episodes of The Mixdown which taught me a TON about getting a podcast off the ground.  If you are interested, my podcast, UnRx, can be found via iTunes.

Here is a list of the applications that I used to record my podcast:

Garageband (This could be substituted with Logic Express, Audacity, Protools, or any multitrack recording application.)

Skype (Any VOIP program would work, but Skype is free and popular.)

LineIn (a free little app that directs the audio around.)

SoundFlower (Much like LineIn, I’m honestly not certain why both are needed but that’s what seems to work.)

Let’s start with Skype.  Here is how I have things configured under the preferences menu.
Skype preferences

In previous versions, “Microphone” and “Speakers” were replaced with “Input” and “Output.”  I should state here that I have opted to use the 16 channel version of Soundflower.  It is also possible to use the 2 channel version.  The advantage of using the 16 channel is that you can record your vocals to one track and the person you are talking to on Skype to another track.  This has many advantages, for example, if you talk over each other, you can mute the volume on one track during your editing to make things sound better.

Speaking of Soundflower, the app itself has no interface, but has a small companion app called SoundFlowerBed which shows up in the menu bar.  My configuration looks like this:Soundflower

This might seem a little counter-intuitive, because both the 2 channel and 16 channel are set to None.  However, the reason that I have things setup like this is because it prevents echo in the headset.  If I change the setting from None to the USB Headset, the recording will still work perfectly, but I will hear my own voice in the headphones which causes serious issues if you are talking for more than just a few seconds.  At first you feel like you can deal with it, but over time it becomes more and more annoying.

Next up is LineIn.  The app contains nothing but it’s settings, so here you go:

LineInThere are a couple of things to look out for here.  If you are following my instructions exactly, note that in the advanced options I have changed the left and right output settings from the defaults.  Setting these to 3 and 4 is what enables the secondary recording track in garageband (or whichever recording app you use.)  If you don’t care about this, and are using the 2 channel method, you can leave everything set to default.  Lastly, BUT MOST IMPORTANT, you NEED to click the pass thru button in order for any of this to work.  It’s what enables all of your audio to get from where it starts to where it needs to go.

Next up we have the Garageband settings.  We’ll start with the preferences:

Garageband preferences

I could have also selected the headset for the output here if I wanted it here, but I like keeping this as the built in speakers of my iMac so I can separate what’s being recorded from what I am playing back during the editing process.  This is purely a preference, and you can change this to whatever you want.

When you create a new podcast project in Garageband, you are presented with a project that has 1 track of male voice and another track of female voice. You need to change the input source on them so that they match what is shown below.  You may then want to rename them something that you like better, such as “My Voice” and “Skype recording” or something along those lines.

garageband track1Then on the next track be sure to have the Monitor on so you can hear what’s recording.
garageband track2

And that is pretty much all there is to it.  Fire up your call in Skype, press the big red record button in garageband, and make sure the pass thru button is clicked in LineIn.  Other than that, you are ready to go.  If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments.  Otherwise, good luck!

UPDATE: I just picked up an M-Audio Fast Track to start the process of replacing my USB headset and mic with an XLR microphone. I have my eye on two of them, one by røde and one by heil.

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