How to record a phone call: At-a-Glance
- Recording on the phone keeps things super simple for your guest
- However, there's a trade-off in sound quality
- Apps, adapters, and hardware are available to suit varying workflows
- Calls can be recorded on external devices or the phone itself. Read on for the full details…
With products like Skype, Zoom and Zencaster, there are more and more ways to record online conversations at a distance. There are times, however, when guests don't have access to or understand the technology.
There are guests who have privacy concerns with online software. There are guests who work for companies with policies that limit the use of streaming media, including video and audio communications software.
Recorded phone interviews are a cornerstone of modern journalism. They are incredibly easy for your guest, as all they have to know is how to answer their phone.
There are several really simple strategies to record conversations, depending on your workflow.
I've already mentioned a couple of reasons why you might opt to do a phone interview. Here are a few more considerations before you dive in.
Considerations Before Recording a Phone Call for your Podcast
The option to record phone calls is a good one to have in your arsenal. You'll want to avoid making it your first choice option though, as the audio quality can be a bit rough.
There are double-ender tools that help you record pristine audio quality from your remote recordings. Opt for one of those if you can.
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But say you get the opportunity to record a famous person in your niche. You know they'll bring fantastic value to your audience, but they're very busy and have told you they'll only be available on the phone. In this case, of course you're going to make an exception.
Or, perhaps there's a guest out there you'd love to have on, but they're completely clueless about tech. Again, getting on the phone is going to be the best option.
You might think about keeping phone interviews on the shorter side, too. Some can find listening to a phone interview grating after 20-odd minutes. If you've recorded a mammoth conversation via phone, and it's all excellent content, consider splitting it across multiple episodes.
Anyway, now that we've got a bit of context, let's move on, and find out how we actually go about recording phone calls.
If you have access to Bluetooth on your phone, a simple Bluetooth call recorder may be all you need to get the job done. Simply connect your phone to the device and click record.
The Rode Rodecaster
It's hard to say enough about the Rode Rodecaster. It's all all-round podcast recording device that's portable, powerful, flexible, and easy to use.
Among its many features, the Rode Rodecaster allows you to connect via Bluetooth or direct connection to easily record a cell conversation. Mix-minus is handled automatically in the board settings without the need for special routing, and the incoming audio from your phone records to its own isolated channel too.
The Zoom PodTrak P4 (Brand New!)
Zoom's new PodTrak P4 does the bulk of what the Rodecaster can do – but at a fraction of the size, and the cost. You can record phone calls straight from your smartphone, or connect the P4 up to a computer or tablet to record online calls. Read our full review of the Zoom PodTrak P4.
Got a Land Line?
Want to record without the need for access to a smartphone? There are a number of solutions to record phone calls by connecting an inline device like the JK Audio VoicePath.
There are a ton of call recording apps on the market. One that's available for both iOS and Android is called Rev Audio and Voice Recorder.
If you're not familiar with Rev, they are an automated transcription company. I use their service, Temi, for audio transcriptions for my clients. The results require editing, but overall are very decent for automated transcription.
Rev Audio and Voice Recorder is their free call recording app. It offers unlimited high-quality recording, and you can easily send your recording to their transcript services at a cost.
Once you've chosen your call recording software, simply begin the call and hit record.
Computer or External Recorder
Using a computer or external recorder for a phone call to a smartphone requires adaptation to get the audio signal from the phone to the recording device. Here are three methods:
There are audio adaptors of nearly every shape, size and function on the market, and cell phones are no different. A simple stereo breakout cable like the Hosa CMP-159 will adapt the headphone jack to fit the inputs of most recorders and input devices. If you use a device that has a line in, a simple 1/8″ stereo interconnect cable will do.
This will allow you to record the guest end of the phonecall. Keep in mind that you will need to record your voice as well, which can be accomplished by connecting another microphone.
The Mix-Minus approach offers some flexibility in being able to record both ends of a conversation simultaneously. This method uses a mixer to host both the host microphone and the incoming call. Due to board limitations, a Mix-Minus method is used to prevent the caller's voice from bouncing back at them.
Using your computer to receive your phone's Bluetooth audio depends heavily on your phone, the Bluetooth chip on your computer, and the operating system you use. Any combination of these factors can vary results dramatically, but when it works, it works well.
There is no one-size-fits-all description of how to do this, as each device does it differently, but if you are able to connect your phone to your computer for use as a phone device, you can record the audio from the stream by selecting the device in your DAW.
There are quite a few conferencing services available to record conference calls between multiple users. RingCentral is the one I am most familiar with. These services often have a cost and the audio quality is often not great. Such services are not designed for professional recording. They work well though, and are simple to use, often requiring only the press of a key to record.
Google Voice can be used to establish a phone number guests can call into or hosts can call from for an interview. For this method, setup and log-in to a Google Voice account. In the settings, check the recording option in Call Options. When you want to record a call, press 4 on the keypad.
The method I use most often to record phone interviews is Zoom. Callers can either join via smartphone, computer or call in using a regular telephone voice line. There isn't much troubleshooting or rerouting involved and the recording process is the same as any other Zoom call.
How to Record a Phone Call for Your Podcast
As hosts, it is our job to make our guests feel at home. And in the end, the message is more important than the means in which the message is recorded, as long as the ideas are clear. Having a few methods to record phone calls in the studio and on the run, gives you more flexibility as a host to go where the voices are that need to be heard.
Be sure to check out our best online call recording tools roundup to expand your range of options, too. And, if you need more help with any aspect of your podcast, be sure to join us in The Podcast Host Academy. In there you'll find all of our courses, downloadable resources, and can chat to us on a weekly basis in our live Q&A sessions!