Phone calls generally have pretty low sound quality. Skype calls usually sound a lot better, but if there are issues with the internet speed then the guest’s voice can become garbled or can start dropping out completely. In order to get the best sound quality we do what’s called a “double-ender,” where each guest records their own voice as a separate audio file, then we mix those tracks together in post-production.
In order for this to work properly it’s important that you record your voice and only your voice. You should wear earbuds or headphones (preferably earbuds) to ensure that your microphone is only picking up your voice.
I’ll tell you when to hit the Record button. Don’t stress about hitting it at exactly the right moment. In post-production I’ll line up your track against a master recording of the call.
I’ll also be recording your voice as a backup, so if there are any problems with your recording it’ll probably be okay. (Though the recording I make will be subject to the various phone and Skype issues mentioned earlier.)
If possible try to situate yourself in a small office or bedroom. Large open spaces tend to create a lot of echo.
Before the call try to do whatever you can to cut down on background noise. (Close doors and windows, silence phones, turn off fans and AC, remove pets from the room, etc.) During the call try not to do anything that will get picked up by the microphone such as typing on your keyboard, clicking your mouse, tapping on the desk, shifting around in a creaky chair, etc.
Avoid using headset mics or mics that dangle on a cord except as a last resort. The built-in mics in most laptops usually work fine.
To Record on a Mac:
Go to Finder -> Applications and find the QuickTime Player. Open it, then select File -> New Audio Recording. Press the red button to start recording. QuickTime doesn’t start recording until you hit the red button. Once you start recording, the red Record button will change to a black Stop button. Hit Stop to stop recording, then go to File -> Save to save the recording as an M4A file.
To Record on a PC:
If you’re on a PC, there’s a free audio recording program called Audacity that you can download from https://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/. Download the program, open it, then press the red Record button to start recording. Press the yellow Stop button to stop recording. Go to File -> Export and select the option to export the recording as a WAV file.
To Send Me Your Audio File:
Don’t send me your audio file as an email attachment. Audio files are much too large for that, which is why we usually share them using Dropbox or Google Drive. (Both require you to create an account, but most people have either a Dropbox account or a Google account, which is the same as Gmail.)
To share a file using Dropbox, go to dropbox.com and click Upload. Select the audio file and click Open. Once the file is uploaded to your Dropbox account, double-click on it, then select Share. Type in my email address — “firstname.lastname@example.org” — and click Share. Make sure to share the file itself, not the folder it’s in.
To share a file using Google Drive, go to google.com and click on the Tic-Tac-Toe board in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Click on the multicolor triangle that says Drive. Click New, then File Upload. Select the audio file and click Open to upload it. Click Recent. Find the file and double-click on it. Click the three vertical dots in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and select Share. Type in my email address — “email@example.com” — and click Send.
If there’s some other file sharing option that you’re more used to, that’s fine. Whatever works for you.
Make sure to wear earbuds during the call so that your microphone is only picking up your voice. Turn down the volume level in your earbuds so that it’s as low as possible (while still being able to hear me).
Make a test recording before we get started to make sure that your microphone is working properly. Try playing a song or podcast in your earbuds while you’re recording to make sure that the sound from your earbuds isn’t getting picked up by your microphone.
I find I have the best luck with Skype if, before the call, I remove any large files from my Desktop, Trash, and Downloads folder, then turn the computer off, then turn it back on again. (Actually turn it off, don’t just “restart” it.)
One of your Skype contacts is “Skype Test Call.” Find it by searching your contacts for “Skype Test Call.” You can call this and record a short message and have it played back to you. Please call “Skype Test Call” a few minutes before we start to make sure that Skype is working properly.
To Record on an iPhone:
You can also record your voice using the Voice Memos app on your iPhone. (This app comes standard on iPhones, and is often found in a Folder called Folder.) This can be a good option if you’re not able to record using QuickTime or Audacity, or if you want an additional backup in case anything goes wrong.
To record using Voices Memos, open the app and hit the red button to start recording. Hit the red button again to stop recording. To send me the file, hit the ellipsis symbol (three dots) on the left-hand side of the screen. (Make sure you have the correct audio file selected.) Click Share, then select Mail. Type my email address firstname.lastname@example.org into the To: field, then hit the blue arrow button in the upper right corner of the screen.