TPS 079: An Alternative to Skype

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Ever have an issue with Skype? Choppy connection, hiss in your audio, disconnected from your interviewee or co-host? These are just a few of the issues some podcasters are experiencing when using Skype. However, Skype, in many cases still remains one of the better ways to connect with remote interviewees and co-hosts. But what if there was a reliable substitute? Enter Google Plus Hangouts and Hangouts On-Air.G+ Hangouts

If Skype is working great for your recordings, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re having any number of issues that Skype often has, consider trying Google Plus Hangouts. G+ Hangouts are an easy way to record video or audio only chats. When connected live, the audio is great and the connections seem to be more stable than Skype in my recent experience.

Again, this is just an alternative if you’re having issues with Skype. No need to change your workflow if you’re happy with the way things are. If you’re using a mixer setup to record your calls, simply connect with your Google account and record your interview just like you would a Skype call. For those of you using software solutions such as Pamela for Windows or Call Recorder for Mac, this is not a solution for you. This is for more advanced setups, utilizing a mixer with mix-minus setup.

Also discussion on this episode is the recent announcement and retraction of Skype cutting off their API for third party recording apps. Skype had planned to discontinue the desktop API which allowed some third party recording apps like Pamela to record Skype conversations. A couple weeks later they decided not to do that. Whatever software app you are currently using to record Skype will continue to work.

This episode was recorded using an ATR2100 microphone (with foam windscreen) plugged directly into the computer via USB and recorded with both Audacity and Soundtrack Pro.

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About Ray Ortega

Full-time podcast producer and host of The Podcasters' Studio and Podcasters' Roundtable, I enjoy sharing my ten years of experience making podcasts to help others improve or start their own show.


  1. Another brilliant episode Ray!

  2. Thanks for the mention Ray!

    I haven't updated the audio analysis article on Hangouts On Air since Google gave us HD Hangouts, and so the audio quality of the archived video/audio is even better now assuming the source is high quality. The higher the video resolution on Youtube, the higher the audio bitrate.

    One very important distinction to make (I might have missed this in your podcast) is that with a regular Hangout video chat, you only have "Voice Mode" available.

    If you want "Studio Mode" you have to start a Hangout On Air, but you do NOT have to broadcast it live.

    • Thanks David. I\’ll be curious to hear any results from testing you might do with HD versions and the audio you get during the live HOA but even in the HD archive file it doesn\’t sound like any more than 96 to me. But that\’s just going by ear. A test is surely needed.

      Thanks for the distinction that is a critical point and I realized after the episode was published that I may have left that out. The reason I didn\’t panic and put up a new file is because even in Voice mode I think Hangouts makes for a good substitute as the audio still sounds great and I plan to update that in the next episode.

      But it is an important point that I expected more people to point out. That\’s what I get for rapidly switching on the mic without an outline. Fortunately in a podcast you can always just fix it in the next episode…stay tuned;)

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