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Recording a Phone Conversation

By | October 25, 2007

Hey everybody, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a regular show and I actually miss it! We’ve been for several weeks now, going through setting up a new domain and getting it ready for podcasting, and by the way, if you try to go to the site that I used in the demo, it no longer looks anything like what the demos have because I’m going to be doing something a little different with that site and after I got the training done, I went back in and redid the site with Joomla, it’s a little more robust than WordPress, but it’s a lot trickier to get setup, anyhow, the site is different now. This week I’m gonna get to a question that was posted kinda in the middle of that series about phone recording, and I didn’t have much time to deal with it at that point but it’s a great topic, so stay tuned and I’ll be right back.

Alright, Paul posted a comment about recording phone conversations, and again Paul, I apologize for this taking so long but I wanted to really deal with it and I didn’t want to break up the domain setup so I had to wait until that was over. But Paul’s question was “I used to do interviews over the telephone but now I am having a lot of trouble getting good quality. I am using a Toneport UX2, JK Audio Quick Tap and Cool Edit Pro 2.1. I only use the guest side of the interview and I have noticed that the line quality has been very poor. I am wondering if in the day of VOIP if it is practical to depend on the telephone for broadcast quality production.”

One thing I want to mention here first is that more and more phone companies are trying to use voice over IP so that they can compete with companies like Vonage and that can give you some pretty bad phone quality, that doesn’t have to do with the audio equipment, but just keep it in mind if you start hearing garbled audio.

As far as the audio equipment though, Paul is using a little box that you can pick up for $40 to $60 that you plug in between your telephone and handset. It gives you an 1/8” mono output that is a mix of both sides of the conversation. Now that is not the way I recommend you record because you can separate the voices and most of the time, you’ll have people talking over top of one another and you won’t be able to do anything about it.

JK Audio does have some better options, but of course you’re talking more money. The thing is though, and what I’m gonna be thinking about is the audio quality, especially of the host. For some reason, and I hear a lot of podcasts like this where they use a QuickTap or something and do the whole interview, but for some reason, it doesn’t sound right if the host is on the phone too, and that’s essentially what you get with this type of setup.

Before I get into other options, I mentioned briefly in my reply to Paul that you can use Skype to do recording and a lot of times, it sounds absolutely great. Now sometimes, it sounds bad, sometimes you get dropped all together, but most of the time, you get a good quality recording. The best part is, you get to use the same mic that you do your podcasts with, so you, as the host, sound fine. If your guest sounds like they’re on the phone, that’s kinda normal, but it gets even better. If they have a PC and a decent mic, they can sound just like they’re in the studio with you and that, of course, is the preferred scenario. There are plugin applications you can get for Skype, but you really don’t have to use them, I’ve setup Audition where one track is my mic, and another track is what comes over the speakers, which is the guest, and it records great, and I’ve got fantastic separation, especially if you use headphones during the conversation.

Now, that aside, JK Audio has a couple of great upgrades from a QuickTap that’ll let you have that ‘radio station talk-show quality’ audio. One is the Inline Patch Telephone Hybrid. It gives you the separation of voices, and you can even mix sound bytes in for the caller to hear. That’s gonna set you back about $230, but it’s a good step up just for the fact that it gives you separation. It doesn’t let you use your mic though, you still have to use the phone, so what I would do is use the phone, but still talk into your mic and record everything. That way, you can scrape your telephone version of your voice, and use the mic version, together with the telephone version of the caller, it’ll sound totally studio.

The other option, which is even more of an upgrade, and yes, much more expensive, is the Digital Telephone Hybrid, this is called the InnKeeper. It gives you an XLR input for your mic, and an XLR output for your caller’s audio. You also get a couple of other input and output options so there’s a lot more flexibility as far as how you get your audio into the call, and how you get it out.

The InnKeeper ain’t cheap though, you’re probably gonna spend about $460 for it, but if audio quality is tops on your list, that’s the way to go, believe it or not, if you’ve ever been in a radio station, they’ve got even more expensive equipment costing thousands of dollars, just for working with the telephone.

OK, so that is it for phones, let’s take a break and we’ll be right back.

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Welcome back everyone, I’ve just got some news that I want to talk about that I found on ITWeb that basically has Glen Verran saying that podcasting is pretty much for amateurs and isn’t profitable from a financial perspective. Glen hosted Podcamp and I’m a little disappointed that this would be his take on where podcasting is going but let me just start by hitting some of the highlights of the article.

Glenn and his wife host the ZAShow which is not listed in iTunes and I find that pretty interesting but I had a listen to the show and besides an extremely long introduction, the show sounds pretty good from a quality stand point.

I guess his biggest point about making money with a podcast is that once you bring finances onto the table, like with advertisers or sponsors, then you’re bound to producing content on a regular basis, and with his show being self-produced, they can put out content whenever they feel like it. He does pretty good though, it looks like from what I saw they post about once a week, but I think the point here is being missed and that is that there’s a big difference between someone who is podcasting for fun, and somebody who is podcasting for profit, whether that is an individual or a company.

And I think that you have to realize that some people, and some companies, are using podcasting very seriously as a way to reach others and it’s working, the thing is, for it to be used effectively, you have to do it on a higher level than just having somebody plug a mic into a computer and talk about last month’s company picnic, I mean you’ve got to put more into it than that.

One thing that was said in the article, by Dave Duarte, was that it’s getting a lot tougher to grab the attention of an audience, and that I would say is very true today. There is so much out there on the Net, so many podcasts, people just have this blank look on their faces and believe me, it is tough to get to the top of the pack. You can’t just have a great podcast, you’ve got to use tactics for getting traffic, you’ve got to get yourself in front of the audience, and THEN hit them with a great show. They’re not gonna keep coming back week after week and month after month, if your content isn’t fresh and if that content doesn’t give them something.

There’s a lot of podcasts out there though that do this very thing and they do it very well. The key is to find your niche market, find something that really provokes people and draws them, then provide that content to them at a very high quality.

I hear the music, and that means this week’s show is over. I’m your host, Ken Walker, if you’ve got anything you’d like to hear on the show, a topic for us to discuss, or just a question, post a comment or send me an email at podcasting@seocompany.ca. Until next time, happy podcasting.

icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [15:09m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Topics: Audio Hardware, How to Podcast | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Recording a Phone Conversation”

  1. Paul Says:
    November 9th, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Ken Thanks for doing the telephone program. I have been experimenting with different solutions and downloaded a Skype recording program but have not used it. I really like the idea of Audition being able to separate the Skype track and the local microphone track – this is something Cool Edit can’t do. So I will be watching for Audition 3.0 when it comes out and using the Skype recording only as a backup. BTW I have completed my demo (not really a podcast) which I have produced for traditional broadcast. You can listen at http://www.wisdom-radio.com (check out program #2)
    I am interested in any comments or suggestions.

    Thanks for the show.

    P.S. I notice that I had the same problem with podpress when I first installed it. But later it ran without a problem. I also notice with podpress that it doesn’t alway give you the download option or the play in pop up option. I also wished the Icon was bigger some people click the headline of the title instead of the MP3 icon and wonder why it does play….I have added instructions on the end of the post to clarify.

  2. Ken Walker Says:
    November 9th, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Hey Paul, looks like Audition 3.0 has been officially released, I just finished the download.

    I tried to check out your demo and none of the links seem to work (play in popup, download).


  3. Paul Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Ken, I was away for the holiday season and came back to see you have done a program on recording on the telephone….very helpful – thanks!!!

    In regard to your attempt to play/download the Wisdom demo program I noticed that all the links were broken – the host must have done something because they were all working – I fixed them now. Please try again and give me any comments. Thanks!!



  4. resimler Says:
    February 17th, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Thank you
    Great Help

  5. bezua Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    You can use skype to do interviews. Skype recording can be much less complicated. PowerGramo
    does all things automatically. Also it provides good recording quality since it
    fetchs voices from within Skype directly. I have been using it for a long time.

  6. Lenare Says:
    January 6th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    My two penny : SkypeCallRecorder. Free and simple to use tool for recording skype conversations.

  7. 1 Site In Music Production Niche. | 7Wins.eu Says:
    July 25th, 2009 at 10:29 am

    [...] Pop media, the social web and an underserved niche | Mark BlevisShemspeed Daily » Blog Archive » Introducing Prodezra Recording a Phone Conversation | The Podcasting Blog [...]


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