Recording Skype with No Mixer or Software

Recording a Skype interview can be a tricky process. There are “easy” ways to do this with software like Audio Hijack Pro for Mac and Pamela for Windows but they can still be hard to setup and of course anytime you’re using software you are at risk of it crashing and losing the entire interview. My other complaint about using software is that it’s not as easy to monitor the audio that you are recording to ensure that everything sounds right throughout the recording.

Here’s a very specific setup that while it uses a particular piece gear (ATR2100 or AT2005)* it gives you lots of flexibility with the final audio file(s) as well as a more reliable system for capturing your Skype interviews and achieving latency free monitoring.

In the video I say that you have to have an ATR2100 style microphone. For this exact setup that is true however you can achieve a Skype recording with your audio recorder with any XLR connected microphone (see section below).

Using an audio recorder (any recorder with at least 2 inputs will work) to record Skype or any other VOIP conversation is a great way to help ensure that you don’t lose the interview due to a computer/software crash.

Of course something could always go wrong with an audio recorder (batteries die, SD card corrupts, you forget to press record, etc.) but you’re not likely to have a recorder simply crash. In most cases it’s user error that messes up a recording.

An audio recorder also gives you the opportunity to record a backup. You could still record via software (apps mentioned above) while also recording to the recorder. Having two recordings (software and hardware) will definitely help ensure a successful recording.

If you have an ATR2100, AT2005, or Samson Q2U along with an audio recorder that has dual XLR/1/4″ combo inputs or one XLR input and a 3.5mm input that goes to a separate channel, you have powerful system for recording Skype on two separate channels.

Because the Audio Technica microphone allows you to output both USB and XLR, you can use them together to record into an audio recorder while at the same time sending your audio to your Skype caller.

The above video shows you how I connect my microphone and my recorder to record a Skype conversation. You could also use Google Hangouts (I often record Podcasters’ Roundtable this way) as well any any other voice over IP (VOIP) app that allows you to have a conversation with someone online.

In your completed .wav file, you’ll have two separate tracks, one with just your voice and one with just your guest’s voice. Depending on your recorder, you might have one stereo file which you’ll then need to break apart and create two separate mono files. This is easy to do in Audacity, Audition and others. Garageband does not have this capability however.

Make sure your audio recorder is set to stereo, 2 channel or more mode so that each input gets its own channel. This is a huge advantage in post production because you will be able to apply effects to each channel individually as well as cut out portions of audio where the other person had noise issues as well as remove the non-speaking person for a quieter recording. The final result is a much cleaner, better sounding interview.

Record with any XLR microphone, ATR2100 not required (despite what I said;)

If you don’t have an ATR2100 or one of the other microphones that have dual XLR/USB output, you can still perform this setup, accomplishing the main goal of recording Skype and yourself on two separate channels.

Simply use your computer’s built-in microphone to communicate with your guest on Skype. They won’t receive the same high quality audio you’ll get when using a USB connected microphone but in most cases they will never know the difference.

As long as the Skype guest can hear you clearly, then you’ll be fine since you are not actually sending them audio that is being recorded. They simply need to hear you.

Use the correct cables, avoiding adapters when possible (better option than in the video)

When possible, it’s best to avoid using adapters in your cabling setup. For this setup when taking the audio out of the computer/Skype and into your recorder, the Hosa Technology Stereo Mini Male to 2 Mono 1/4″ cable is the best option.

Hosa Stereo Mini (3.5mm) Male to 2 Mono 1:4 Male Insert Y-CableIn this particular case, you insert only the gray lead of the Y-cable into your audio recorder. You’ll be left with the red lead just hanging off to the side, not actually plugged in, but despite the funky look it’s the best option. You can read more about why in this nice write-up about cabling for Skype output.

*Gear used to make this video:

Zoom H4N (B&H), Try Amazon for a sale however I recommend the newer Zoom H5 for its better preamps.
ATR2100 USB/XLR Microphone
Canon 60D 
Canon 24-105mm F4 IS 
Transcend SD card 16 and 32GB Class 10
Manfrotto 701 HDV Tripod 
Rode VideoMic Pro 
Screencapture software: Screenflow for Mac 

*all links should be considered affiliates. Purchases made using these links help support this channel. Please read my ethics statement.

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.

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