Higher quality podcast recording options? November 22, 2007 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Podcast question - higher quality recording.

The podcast audio quality is a bit lacking, and seems to move in and out of higher and lower quality modes, where the higher quality is tolerable, and the lower quality sounds like radio transmission between x-wings.

There must be a better way. For example, NPR will play a pre-recorded bit that involves a conversation between an NPR host and an off-site person. The conversation is real-time, but the broadcast is not live. I had assumed that this involved the host and guest talking on some low-bandwidth connection, like a phone, but also each simultaneously recording locally to a high-quality source, like a high-quality MP3. These sources would be combined later. Is this the case? Is it something the podcast could make use of?

That is, could the podcast conversation take place over Skype, as I guess it already is, while at the same time recording each local side to an MP3 in Audacity? Combining the two or more files later is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by odinsdream to MetaFilter-Related at 9:08 AM (30 comments total)

Yeah, the quality problems are basically internet transport problems for skype between me and jessamyn, I could certainly have her record her end and upload it somewhere I could fetch going forward, which would greatly enhance the quality.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:11 AM on November 22, 2007


That's not a bad idea. My connection seems to have some sort of throttling problem. I can hear quality degrade when I'm scrolling on my laptop, for example, which points to some CPU issues as well. I can definitely record my side independently.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on November 22, 2007


or you could make it super lo-fi and just have the whole thing be in morse code!

[/facetious].
posted by heeeraldo at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2007


... --- ...
posted by Cranberry at 9:24 AM on November 22, 2007


Jessamyn recording on her side would be a good idea. The Skype cuts in and out pretty bad...it was almost comical during the mothershock interview. At times you could hear that jessamyn was trying to add something to the conversation but there would just be this sort of sad honk noise.
posted by chococat at 9:32 AM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFiter: this sort of sad honk noise.
posted by ORthey at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


Part of the sad honking noise problem is that there was a serious delay between me and mothershock. So I'd start saying something before she'd start talking, she'd start talking, she'd hear me say ... something ... then she'd stop and I might have to restate what I was saying etc. It seems to be a worse problem when there are three of us all Skyping it instead of just mathowie and I. There may be a better way to manage those types of talks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:46 AM on November 22, 2007


MetaTalk: There may be a better way to manage those types of talks.
posted by cgc373 at 9:54 AM on November 22, 2007


What, are we too good for telex now?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2007


When NPR does a phone interview with you, they just call you on the phone and record it on their end.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2007


Could you guys just use landlines or is that right out?
posted by puke & cry at 10:03 AM on November 22, 2007


It seems to be a worse problem when there are three of us all Skyping it instead of just mathowie and I.

Ya, that's what I was thinking. And it seemed to give priority to mothershock, she was louder and clearer and farther up the delay chain than you were. And while you recording yourself at your end will make your audio sound better, it still won't solve the delay problem. Apart from big phone bills, I don't know how you'd solve that three-way skype delay problem.

MetaFiter: this sort of sad honk noise.
I knew that was coming as I was typing those words.
posted by chococat at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2007




What, are we too good for telex now?

I actually own a working Telex machine, blue_beetle. It is one of the true wonders of the information age, were it not that the only other people who have a telex that I can find are working the concierge desk at the Kat'e Grand Hotel in Lesotho.
posted by parmanparman at 10:21 AM on November 22, 2007


I want to experiment with a user-created podcast. We started the idea at the SF meet-up back in September, but we trusted the audio to the wrong person. So maybe we can do something again at the next SF meet-up (Dec 14). Coincidentally, Matt will be there. Does anyone want to submit topics of conversation? I'll volunteer as production manager and bring a digital recorder if we can agree on a format and a host. After that, maybe a group of us can meet over Skype and do it that way and record to Audio Hijack or Pamela and I'll mix it and we'll find someone to mix the music for the show.

OK, I'm getting way too ahead of myself, so I'll let this stew here for a while.
posted by parmanparman at 10:27 AM on November 22, 2007


You can "skype-out" to a phone line for pretty damn cheap in the US.

Aren't you web 2.0 guys rolling in the cash? Maybe you could take the MeFi jet?
posted by ODiV at 10:29 AM on November 22, 2007


MetaFilter? Web 2.0? Har har.
posted by chrismear at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2007


MetaFilter: Web 0.9 and damn proud of it!
posted by timeistight at 1:08 PM on November 22, 2007


I think we're still on Web 0.9beta, actually. Unless I missed a memo.
*goes outside to check mailbox*
posted by dg at 1:25 PM on November 22, 2007


I like that as soon as I read this post, I thought "paging parmanparman!" and came here to type that, but he had already been and gone twice.
posted by jewishbuddha at 4:00 PM on November 22, 2007


When NPR does a phone interview with you, they just call you on the phone and record it on their end.

I really think there's more to it. There are definitely times when both sides of the conversation are very high quality, and times when it's clearly over the phone, even though both cases have people in different locations. The higher quality ones seem to be the cases where it was planned ahead. For a recent example, there was a piece where the NPR host interviewed a vegetarian cook. The cook was in her own kitchen and the host was somewhere else. The quality is definitely better than when they call their reporters on the scene of some breaking event. Perhaps that's mostly due to cellphones, but I do think there is something else at work here.
posted by odinsdream at 5:26 PM on November 22, 2007


Okay, well, when they did an interview with me, they just called me. The reporter did have me switch to a better phone since he was getting crap off my portable, but even though it was arranged in advance, it was conducted entirely via phone and any recording they did was on their side. The audio from that interview sounded pretty good.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:00 PM on November 22, 2007


I've been on NPR several times and every time they just called me on a regular telephone. I assume it's their sound engineers that make everything sound so groovy. Maybe I'll call Matt's Skypemachine on my land line next time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:51 PM on November 22, 2007


You guys could use teamspeak. It's ostensibly for gaming, but you can use it for anything. It doesn't use somebody else's p2p network like skype; you set up your own (free) server and then it's just a direct connection. You can choose the bitrate and codec, and speex at a high enough bitrate sounds very good.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:09 PM on November 22, 2007


The higher quality ones seem to be the cases where it was planned ahead.

If it can be arranged, the guest will go to an NPR station near their location and do their side of the interview through a link from there. Network TV does this sometimes too. Phones don't enter into it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:31 AM on November 23, 2007


jessamynAdmin: "Part of the sad honking noise problem is that there was a serious delay between me and mothershock. So I'd start saying something before she'd start talking, she'd start talking, she'd hear me say ... something ... then she'd stop and I might have to restate what I was saying etc."

I do this IRL. When people catch on I incredulously ask them if they've never heard of satellite delay. It's wonderfully unsettling.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:23 AM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The higher quality ones seem to be the cases where it was planned ahead.

If it can be arranged, the guest will go to an NPR station near their location and do their side of the interview through a link from there. Network TV does this sometimes too. Phones don't enter into it.


Ah, OK, however, we are talking about a podcast that is just something a couple of people do. Not something they want to put serious time and effort in aside from booting up Skype, logging into Metafilter, getting on the phone together and having one person record the conversation to mix down to an MP3 later. Not: I'll record on my end and you on yours and then we'll carefully lace both parts of the conversation together after you upload your side onto my FTP site. Metafilter podcasts are fun because they aren't about a lot of time and effort. Who wants to invest in something maybe only 5,000 people who are already paying members will tune into? There's nothing left to buy.
posted by parmanparman at 9:42 AM on November 23, 2007


Oh sure, there just seemed to be a few people who thought NPR had some technology that made phone interviews magically clear.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:48 PM on November 23, 2007


Oh sure, there just seemed to be a few people who thought NPR had some technology that made phone interviews magically clear.

Technically, there is.
I was a commercial editor for a bit in the '90's and often at a sound recording session we'd do an analog phone patch, which was quite expensive, to record a voice over with someone in another city. In my case, chef Burt Wolf couldn't make it to Toronto to record the Canadian version of his Crisco ad. He was grouchy. Fun times.
posted by chococat at 4:49 PM on November 23, 2007


I would not object to listening to a podcast where mathowie was Red Leader and jessamyn was Red Five.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:15 AM on November 24, 2007


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