Recording Skype into a Digital Recorder
Recording an interviewee or co-host remotely is one of the most common practices in podcasting.
Though there are many tools and apps that can record calls online for you, some podcasters prefer to put their faith in the trusty digital recorder.
So how do you record a Skype call into your digital recorder? Well, there's an almost infinite number of possibilities out there.
I've put together instructions on 3 different setups that cover a wide range of podcasting equipment.
None of them involve working with mixers, and if you already own a mic and a digital recorder, you can put together any of these setups at a very low cost.
All of these setups use a 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable, which is a great bit of kit to have handy in your studio or recording area.
Got a Mic With a Headphone Port?
If you have one of these, along with a 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable, then we can record directly into a recorder without the need for any XLR or 1/4″ inputs.
Plug your mic into the computer via its USB cable.
Plug one end of the 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable into the microphone headphone port.
Plug the other end of 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable into the recorder's ‘line in'.
Plug your headphones into the recorder.
Set your mic as both the Input and Output inside your Skype preferences.
This method will record both yours and the guest's audio as one single track, so be extra diligent when setting your audio levels inside the Skype settings.
My Mic Doesn't Have a Headphone Port
Some mics, such as the Blue Snowball iCE, don't have headphone ports on them. If yours doesn't, here's an option that might work well for you.
Rather than having the audio from your microphone and Skype going into your recorder, you can record your own side of the conversation into Audacity and sync the two tracks in the production phase.
Use the 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable to record the Skype audio into your digital recorder. Plug one end into your computer's headphone port, and the other end into your recorder's ‘line in'.
Open Audacity, select the microphone you're talking into as your input, and record your own side separately.
This means you're going to have to mix two audio tracks together in post-production, but it gives you a lot more flexibility than having everything recorded on a single channel in your recorder.
Own A Recorder With 2× XLR ¼” Inputs?
I'd then pop a 3.5mm to ¼” stereo to mono adapter onto the 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable and feed that from the computer headphone port into the other input on the H5.
An alternative to using a 3.5mm – 1/4″ adapter is to get a 3.5mm – 1/4″ cable.
I could then either run a USB cable from my Q2U to the computer, or (if I didn't have a mic with both XLR and USB connections) use an additional built-in mic on my computer.
That way, whoever I was chatting to on Skype could hear me.
Plug your headphones directly into your recorder, that way you can hear everything – and that's exactly what is being recorded.
A big bonus with this set up is again the fact that you have two independently recorded channels, which will give you a lot of control during the production process.
Also, it'll be much easier to sync than the Audacity method, as your recorder will start (and stop) recording both tracks at exactly the same time.
Summary – Whatever Works For You
Remember there's no right or wrong methods with stuff like this. Sure, there are better sounding ways, easier ways, and cheaper ways, but it's all about finding what works for you with the equipment (or budget) available to you.
There are many other ways to record Skype interviews too. If you're interested in learning about setups using mixers, mix-minus, etc, then our guide on recording Skype calls for a podcast might be for you.
Or, perhaps you're not keen on the thought of tinkering with mixers, plugs, inputs, and outputs. The good news is that there's loads of ways to record your podcast online now with little or no hardware. For more on this, check out our roundup of the best online recording tools.