Zencastr: A Reliable, Quality FREE Online Podcast Recorder

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Zencastr is an easy-to-use cloud platform where you can record high-quality audio and video for free. A clean, easy-to-use interface, a flexible free package, and the ability to upgrade to a more extensive plan when a podcast’s need grows are just a few of the reasons that they’re an indie podcast favourite for recording remote episodes. In this Zencastr review, I’ll go over a few more key platform highlights as well as let you know some cautions that podcasters shared.

Use coupon code THEPODCASTHOST for 20% off the first three months of a monthly pro subscription with Zencastr.  If used for a yearly subscription, it will be 20% off for the entire year!

What Do Podcasters Like About Zencastr?

Zencastr’s Pricing Is Irresistible

Probably one of the main reasons podcasters stumble upon Zencastr at first is their flexible pricing. Similar to the podcast host Anchor, they have a robust FREE plan that they call Hobbyist. But pricing options are where the comparison ends.

What Makes Their Pricing Plans Impressive

Not only do they have a free plan, but you don’t even need a credit card to register and use the platform. And at the beginning of the pandemic, they even expanded the free plan. “We used to have 8 hours of recording cap pre-pandemic. We changed that to unlimited recording for both the hobbyist and pro plan users during the pandemic” they shared when I spoke to them recently. Here’s a peek at their current pricing plans.

Zencastr pricing plans, found at https://zencastr.com/pricing. Professional is $20 per month and Hobbyist is FREE with unlimited recordings.

Why is the free plan on the right side of this chart, I simply don’t know but other than that the packages look fantastic. If you skip over the 14-day trial period and go straight to the free plan, you’ll still get some needed info about what you could be using (WAV instead of MP3 files and transcriptions) at the top of the Create new episode page.

Create new episode Zencastr page with a reminder that "Transcriptions and WAV recording available for PRO account. Upgrade now!"

The Platform Is Easy to Use for the Hosts and Guests

How many times have you tried out a new recording platform with a co-host or guest only to have everything go very, very wrong? That’s not the overall impression I got from Zencastr from the podcasters I talked to.

Zencastr Records Locally and Has a Simple Interface

Producer for Bleeding Love, Katie Rosin, shared that “…your guest doesn’t need to put an application onto their computer, but MORE importantly, it records the tracks separately and locally, so if there is a connection problem, it is usually not affected.”

I recently took to the platform to try it out for myself and was pleasantly surprised. And began to understand the hype. Registering, starting a recording session, and sending an invite to a guest were super easy. In no time I was at this recording screen with Jason, aka Agent Palmer, who volunteered to try out the platform with me (thanks Jason). You can see my track is on top and Jason’s is right below me. The sound was crisp and I only had one complaint. When Jason logged on there wasn’t a PING to let me know. I was in another window typing away while I was waiting for him to join me and only realized that he was there because he said something. This is not a big deal but would make the experience nicer, especially for audio-only recordings, which this test was.

Zencaster recording screen showing the two test participant's tracks.

Having Multiple Recording Options Is Useful

Podcast Producer and Manager, Jhenelle Monique, mentioned that the many recording options (pictured below) are a key feature she adored. “The ability to have cameras on and see each other while recording audio and video simultaneously is fantastic.”

Zencastr's recording options: 
1. record audio and video
2. record audio. Show video
3. record audio. No video.

Zencatr’s Audio Quality Is Spoiling

Zencastr’s homepage says that it “records a lossless 16-bit 48k WAV audio track per guest. ” And they do. But if you’re on the Hobbyist plan you’re going to get separate audio files with each recording, NOT these WAV files. Basically, you lose some audio quality when an audio file is compressed from a WAV file to an MP3 file. As long as you know what audio quality you want and that the Hobbyist plan gives you MP3 files and the Professional plan gives you WAV files, you’re good. For most beginning podcasters and podcast listeners, this distinction isn’t that important when you compare it to the quality that the content should be.

What Don’t Podcasters Like About Zencastr?

As the song goes, “Every rose has its thorn,” so with Axl’s wise words in mind, here are a few quick roadblocks that podcasters mentioned.

It’s Not Available on All Platforms

“I have used Zencastr about 10 to 15 times now. During those times, many of my guests or co-hosts had trouble logging in. Last I knew it was not available on apps, mobile devices, or on web browsers other than Chrome.” Sean of The Slacker Gets Serious.

What You Hear Is Not What You Get

“One potential drawback that I have noticed is that sometimes how you hear the audio during the call is not what you hear once it downloads. Sometimes people sound more or less clear depending on their individual recording conditions.” Podcast Manager Jhenelle Monique, has been using Zencastr since 2020 when I worked with Normalizing Non-Monogamy and they introduced it to me.

There Are Some Technical Glitches

And there were reports of these technical issues:

  • guests getting stuck in the green room
  • hard to test sound levels
  • unclear picture sometimes
  • health check system stopped
  • false “available storage” message
  • latency

But all of these problems were reported by one podcaster, and not repeated by others. Part of me wonders if computer type and speed are factors that affect some podcasters but not others. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is the high praise I’ve been hearing about Zencastr since I entered the space 5 years ago.

REMINDER:

Test out Zencastr with someone BEFORE you have a recording that you need or a guest that you don’t want to experience glitches withIn fact, as with all new technology we use for podcasting, test it more than once with different people. It doesn’t matter if the platform is good for this or that person, what you need to find out is if it’s good for you! You need a platform that works for your technology, workflow and personality, just to be safe.

History podcasts benefit from diversity

Zencastr Is So Good I Might Even Forgive Them for the (Mis)Spelling of Their Name

Seriously, my fingers had minor crisis moments every time I had to type their name during this post. But their service is so impressive that I’m making peace at pausing instead of typing what I want to be the final “e” (phantom 2nd to last letter) in Zencaster, I mean Zencastr. See?

If you’re a new podcaster, have a tight budget, or simply want to try out a new remote recording platform, give Zencastr a go. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And remember, if this tool doesn’t scratch your itch, you can always try out our tool, Alitu. You’ve got options!


Use coupon code THEPODCASTHOST for 20% off the first three months of a monthly pro subscription with Zencastr.  If used for a yearly subscription, it will be 20% off for the entire year!