Recording Professional Face to Face Podcast Interviews: The Equipment, Techniques & Approach

Face to Face Podcast Interview Series

This is part 1 in the series – One | Two | Three | Four | Five

I’ve covered how to record face to face podcast interviews before, showing how you can get decent results with just a small digital recorder and a couple of lavalier microphones. It’s a good low-cost setup, still, but there are a fair few disadvantages to that configuration. These include the lack of any ability to set volumes individually per speaker, and a little bit higher background noise due to the splitter.

recording interviews in personIn this series of articles we’re going full quality, forgetting about the budget and overcoming the disadvantages of the lower cost system. I want to offer a no-nonsense description of the gold standard equipment you need for face to face interviews, assuming you have a bit of budget to play with. I’ll give a couple of lower cost options, but this is really assuming that you want the pro-level kit that’ll deliver results and last you a long time. I also want to cover setup and the exact little extras you need. At the end of this series you’ll know what you need, down to the last cable, and you’ll know how to use it to capture the best face to face interviews or co-hosted podcasts possible.

Why Is This Needed? I Skype!

Why spend time on this? Well, Skype interviews have always, in the past, been the king of podcasting. They’re quick and they’re easy to organise – no travelling required, after all. But, I’m seeing more and more of my production customers now looking at face to face interviews, or face to face co-hosting.

I think that change is because there’s currently a good-sized influx of businesses entering the podcasting realm. Because of that, and the fact that these shows are now representing brands rather than a hobbyist, the requirements for quality are becoming a lot higher.

Podcast interviews on locationFace to Face Beats Skype, Almost Every Time

While Skype is good, it often doesn’t deliver the quality of a face-to-face sit down, either from a technical point of view, or a human interaction standpoint. A face to face conversation is in a league above in terms of flow and back-and-forth, thanks to the visual and physical cues that guide a conversation. People can segue, interrupt, banter and add-to so much more naturally when they’re standing right in front of each other. You also never get the time lag in personal chats that sometimes plague Skype conversations.

Now, to qualify, this isn’t talking down Skype entirely. You can get great results on Skype if the connection is good and the hosts are skilled in communicating on that platform. There are many a great podcast out there which is based solely on Skype conversations. But, if top quality is your game, I do believe face-to-face wins out the vast majority of the time.

face to face interview equipment leejordanRecording Context

Before we dive in, what’s the context here? These are the two most common possibilities:

  1. Co-hosting a podcast in person
  2. Recording an interview in person

Either option involves the exact same setup – two people (or more) in the same room speaking to each other, and recording the conversation.

Others may be recording an event, perhaps a workshop or a presentation, and you want to record the speaker, plus people asking questions. Or perhaps even a podcast roundtable where you want to record a group of people all having a conversation. If any of these appeal to you, then this series should prove useful.

So, dual aims here. First, I want to create a series which I can guide new customers to when they’re looking at this kind of setup. And second, I want to help you fine folks, the readers of the Podcast Host, in making sure that when you decide to treat yourself to better interview kit, your hard earned cash gets spent on the right equipment.

Ok, with all of that in mind, let’s dive into it! First stop, click here to read about the digital recorder.

This was part 1 in the series – One | Two | Three | Four | Five


Image Credits | Andreannegermain | Leejordan | Garryknight | Edublogger

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3 Comments

  1. My arsenal of equipment for podcasting comprises my old and trusty ZOOM H2N, which I still use for portable interviews, (using the 4 channel mic setting so that we can sit across a table-its wise to put a towel or something on the table to reduce reflections), my ZOOM R16 mixer/recorder which I use for a multi-mic setup (the built-in mics are not great but OK for a round-table discussion-although I’m considering the Crown Sound Grabber boundary mic, which would probably give better quality coverage for a small group of less than 10 people), a Marshall M67G (fantastic value for money) which I use in conjunction with the R16 because it has phantom power inputs, and a Shure SM 58 and SM 57. For a podcast discussion between 2 people I like the M67G and obtain very good recordings using my Monoprice 602650 absorbent shield which you can see at http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=602650 In this case, provided the two people are sitting close together, the M67G gives good coverage and reduces room effects in my little, reverberant room.

    Reply
  2. Amazing article, thanks for that. My question is if i want to do a Face-to Face interview but with freehands, what you recommend. Im looking for a voice recorder for a face to face interview with my hands free to handle in it. I was thinking about H4n Pro.

    Thanks for your opinion

    Reply

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About the author: Colin Gray

Colin has been teaching people how to podcast since 2007. He's worked with Universities, businesses and hobbyists alike. He started The Podcast Host to share his experience and to help as many people as possible get into Podcasting. He runs Podcraft, to spread the art of podcasting, and does the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast whenever he can. Who doesn't like to talk bikes, after all!