Sometimes amidst chaos, you can unearth a gem.
In building the #socialAfricanshow within 30 days, time was a precious commodity. I had to work both smart and fast.
I was looking for a way to record my podcast guests remotely. I quickly stumbled across Zencastr, a multi-end, web-based, VoIP (voice over IP) service.
Some of the benefits of Zencastr:
- records (me and the guest) remotely on individual computers
- applies echo cancellation automatically
- uploads and syncs the files to download a mix or to download individual files. (I always opt for the latter. Individual files make editing easier.)
- syncs up with your Dropbox account.
Some of the things that drive me mad about it:
- poor communication when the service goes down (from my experience)
- cannot pause recording - each time you stop the recording you have to start a new one
- WAV files sometimes take ages to load.
At the time, Zencastr was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to use Skype and a recording software.
Why I left
I had logged on to send an invite to my guest and I found the 'create new episode' button was greyed out.
I checked my emails and there was no news of any problems with Zencastr.
Conscious of the guest waiting to connect, in a state of panic, I decided to hack.
Deciding that if Zencastr wouldn't let me create a new episode for no clear reason, I would add a new recording to an existing episode.
But, It didn't end well. After a long recording session, the files wouldn't upload to be synced up, so I couldn't download them for editing.
And as I had recorded over an existing episode, there were no local backups.
I emailed Zencastr support and kaboom they came to me saying, "our servers were down due to an early rollout of an update to the Dropbox API." I was like what? Can you guys help retrieve my files? After much ado, the answer to that question was no.
I was hurt, man.
In hindsight, I never should have recorded over an old episode. We live and we learn aye?
So, enter RINGR!
In my frantic attempt to not be bitten by a snake twice, I found Ringr. Similar to Zencastr but more powerful in my opinion.
Benefits of Ringr:
- everything that Zencastr does
- and, the ability to record on mobile devices.
This was another game changer. I quickly signed up for the free trial (30 days) and started testing it out.
My initial thoughts: this thing is f*cking awesome!
I could capture conversations with guests from their mobile phones (some of these smartphones have really powerful mics on them).
A guest, on a mobile, will only need a quick download of the Ringr app before connecting to the interview via the unique link that I sent.
They would speak as if on a normal phone call. I always recommend being in a quiet place and having a strong WiFi connection.
The Ringr app also tells the guest to activate 'do not disturb' mode at the beginning and to leave the app (or tab) open for file uploads at the end.
These instructions are in your face before you connect to a call.
So far, I've had a couple of incidents using Ringr, where I’ve either been unable to record or unable to retrieve audio files. As is the norm with tech/digital, bad things will happen.
Bottom line is, whichever of these two VoIP services you choose to use in recording your podcast, if something doesn’t look right it's better to postpone the show than record and not be able to download your files.
Since I learnt my lessons and started using Ringr consistently, I have been recording and uploading files like a boss.
If you ask me a straight question today, Ringr or Zencastr? My answer will be RINGR. Simply because of the fact that it records on mobile devices.
However, there’s no harm in having a free Zencastr account as a backup.
I will keep you updated via the blog as we grow and as things progress so keep it locked this way, Tribe.
If you sign up for Ringr through any of the links in this post, I will get a small commission.