The most important factor when recording a Skype-based conversation is to make plans a week in advance with the interviewee. Instruct him or her to:
- Download Skype
- Create an account
- Test it out by calling the echo123 service within Skype
This process is user-friendly, and Skype generally performs flawlessly.
Two days before your interview, record a 5-minute conversation with the interviewee to ensure his or her setup is sufficient for recording. After recording, play the conversation back to ensure that volume levels are satisfactory and that all other wrinkles have been ironed out.
Proper hardware must be used in order for the Skype call to be clearly audible on both ends of the conversation. I have found that the most effective way to call people with Skype is by using a headset with a boom microphone. The Audio 60 model from Plantronics works great for me. For more information, follow this link. This headset is fantastic and only costs $20. When buying a headset don’t bother spending more than $20-$25.
Some people have on-board microphones on their laptop but using these produce poor-quality podcasts that aren’t worth putting on the internet.
Recording the Actual Skype Call
I found many different opinions on software configurations for recording a Skype podcast. There are software packages you can buy and others that are free. I found Audacity worked flawlessly and best of all it is free. To get it to work properly, make sure you can capture the wave-output for recording, not just the microphone. If you set Audacity to record only the microphone, you will only hear your sideof the conversation when recording the podcast.
To record the wave output, right click on the speaker icon (next to your system clock, lower right hand corner) and choose Open Volume Control. Click the Options menu then click properties. Set the Adjust volume to Recording and make sure the Wave-Out Mix is checked. This will open up two sliders; make sure the Select button is checked under Wave-Out Mix, this ensures that Audacity will record the proper signal.
To test the new configuration, open Audacity, hit record, and call echo123 inside Skype. Leave a message and let Skype play it back to you. When the call hangs up, go to Audacity and click stop. Play the clip from the beginning and ensure that Audacity was able to record both ends of the conversation.
A bit of patience and some trial and error will be your best ally. If you need some advice or assistance, please drop me an email at jason <at> techcraver <dot> com