Podcasters have been using Skype to record interviews over the internet for a decade. As with any VOIP service, it has its issues.
In the past 1-2 years, Zoom.us became the darling of the industry. However, as with all VOIP services, it has it's issues too.
I love Zoom.us, but not for podcasting.
The audio is sub-par…
…and I have the data to prove it!
Skype vs Zoom
Listen to the side-by-side comparison of the three options:
- Zoom.us (raw)
- Zoom.us with Original Sound turned on for my guest
Thanks to Daniel Abendroth from RothMedia.audio for being my test example.
My observations of Zoom.us
Zoom.us is a fantastic service.
I pay for the Pro version (about $149 a year) because it's the only video conferencing solution that allows any participant to share their computer's audio. That comes in VERY handy when holding class with my students or existing contractors.
However, Zoom's best features for the average person are:
- Stable connection (not as many “Skype Jitters“)
- Great noise cancellation
But Zoom's greatest features are also it's downfall.
Zoom.us has to compress the signal in order to keep a stable connection. That's not good for podcasting.
Technically, the audio from a Zoom.us call is recorded at 32000 Hz. Most services will record at 44100 Hz or greater.
Turn on Zoom's Original Sound
I've been told time and time again to “Turn on Zoom's Original Sound feature”.
Daniel Abendroth from RothMedia.audio was my test subject in the audio example above.
At first, he didn't have the option to turn on Original Sound.
We disconnected, came back into the call, and the option appeared.
I could tell the Original Sound was being captured because his audio clipped (aka: Was too hot)
His audio was noticeably better – but still compressed and hazy.
Skype still beats Zoom
Daniel and I connected via Skype. The difference was noticeable from the start – which you can hear in the 3-way comparison above.
Here it is again in case you want to check it out:
Note: There are other great VOIP services out there. Many of my clients use Zencastr.com and I've been hearing great things about SquadCast. To make this comparison short and simple I chose to just use Zoom and Skype.
The pros and cons of Zoom.us for podcasting
Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of Zoom.us for recording podcast interviews:
Pros of Zoom.us:
+Easy to use (no account or email opt-in necessary)
+You can see your guest when interviewing them (not an option with Zencastr's service)
+Can record each person's audio separately (the same as Skype or Zencastr)
+They have a free version and a relatively inexpensive Pro version with additional benefits
Cons of Zoom.us:
-Sub-par audio quality – even when Original Sound has been turned on
-Daniel and I can't figure out why Original Sound wasn't an option when he first connected with me. That would be frustrating to deal with a high-profile guest with limited time
Personally, the cons win because 15 minutes of Zoom.us audio begins to hurt my ears. It is more difficult to listen to sub-par audio for extended periods of time. And because there are so many services out there with similar strengths and faults, the scaled tip in favor of almost all the VOIP competitors out there.
Have you found a way to capture good audio with Zoom.us? Please let me know how you did it in the comments below.
- The audio in the above example has not been altered in any way
- I used the Audio Record .m4a files from Zoom because they were the best of all the formats that recorded
- Ecamm Call Recorder was used for the Skype call with Audio Encoding set to AAC Compression, resulting in a .mov file
- Recordings were imported directly into Audacity (aka: Not exported into another format before being imported into the DAW)