Ditch Zoom. Try Riverside or Zencastr.
Updated: Jun 29
In this episode of Rogue Creators, Bryan Fittin and Loren Lewis talk with Jacob Carpenter from the Go Rogue X Team! They discuss why people need to stop recording podcasts through Zoom, as well as a couple of alternative options that produce higher-quality content. Tune in to figure out if you should be using Riverside or Zencastr for your recordings! (2:28) What are you obsessed with? (6:09) Introducing Jacob (8:08) Why you need to leave Zoom (12:11) What we love about Riverside (15:43) Why we momentarily switched to Zencastr (20:35) User experience
Links Bryan Fittin Loren Lewis Jacob Carpenter Riverside.fm Zencastr
Quotes "With Riverside or Zencastr, you’re recording locally, so you would be recording on your computer, and I would be recording on mine. It would be doing it automatically through your internet browser, and then in the end, once we’re done, I can just go through and pull those down, and I have a local video that isn’t compressed. It’s higher quality, both audio and video.” (9:07)
“We’ve experienced it time and time again, where the internet drops out or we have some buffering or whatever else, and now all that digital noise that comes through – like what you would typically get in a Zoom call – You do not get that when it comes to Riverside and Zencastr.” (10:16)
“[With Riverside and Zencastr], the nice thing is, you’re not jumping to some level that’s really complicated. It’s within your browser. You’re not asking anyone to record anything on their end...And on your end, it’s not a whole lot different either. You’re mostly just having to hit record and then download the files at the end. And to have that amount of quality at such a user friendly experience, I just love that.” (12:58)
“When you’re recording [with Zoom], it is what you see. So if you are in speaker view to where when I start speaking, the camera turns on to me, that’s what you’re recording...One of the beautiful things about Zencastr and Riverside are recording separate tracks.” (13:29) “[With Riverside], you do have the option for post-processing on the back end, which is actually really cool. So if you are a solo production house, and you are wanting to just have [your] interview leveled out...you can actually have that done on the back end.” (24:38) Do you ever listen to a podcast and wonder why it sounds like the interviewee is using a walkie-talkie that's on the outskirts of its useable range? Are you tired of watching video podcasts that bear more resemblance to a virtual meeting than a produced video?
The pandemic forced podcasters to evolve their show to follow the ever-changing health and safety guidelines. Some podcasts that regularly featured guests before the pandemic pivoted to solo shows without guests, while others audibled from in-person guests to virtual guests.
As the number of remote guests grew, listeners' audio and video quality expectations were forced to dip. They were told that Zoom-quality podcasts were the best option available, as there was no reasonable way to obtain high-quality recordings from guests.
But here's the deal: It doesn't have to be this way. Skype and Zoom might have been the premier option for easy-to-use remote podcast recording five years ago, but platforms like Riverside and Zencastr offer a high-end remote recording service at a justifiable price.
Let's take a look at why Zoom recordings don't cut it anymore and what you can expect from services like Riverside and Zencastr.
What's wrong with Zoom?
As we've mentioned, Zoom became the primary platform for recording podcasts with remote guests when the pandemic arrived in March 2020, and for good reason. The video-conferencing platform was improving drastically through the early months of the pandemic, and businesses were purchasing premium subscriptions as employees relocated to the safety of their homes.
With the audio and video quality rising and recording functions available, Zoom made remote recordings accessible to a broad customer base. So what's the catch?
While Zoom dominated the market for remote podcast recordings, it possesses several flaws that will inherently limit the quality of the content produced through the service.
First of all, when you record through Zoom, you are recording exactly what the host is experiencing. Yes, this includes lags and glitches from your remote guests. For example, if your guest's audio cuts out for a few seconds while recording, it will be missing from the final recording files. Similarly, if your guest's video drops to lower quality because of a bad internet connection, the video will be grainy in the final piece of content.
Another limitation of Zoom comes in post-production. While Zoom can record separate audio files for each speaker, it only records video of the view that you chose for the call. For example,if you select speaker view, it will record whoever is speaking at the moment. On the other hand, in gallery view, Zoom will record everyone on the screen at once.
"When you're recording [with Zoom], it is what you see. So if you are in speaker view to where when I start speaking, the camera turns on to me, that's what you're recording...One of the beautiful things about Zencastr and Riverside are recording separate tracks." (13:29)
Are there better options? While Zoom can absolutely get the job done, there are definitely other options that provide more flexibility and functionality as well as higher quality audio and video. At Go Rogue X, we've used Riverside and Zencastr primarily, and we've found them to produce fantastic results.
Several factors set these two platforms apart from Zoom, but the most impactful is recording audio and video locally. Zoom records the stream of your guest's audio and video, meaning that it records what your computer receives. Riverside and Zencastr record each person's audio and video on their respective devices and simultaneously upload it to the platforms' servers to download later.
"With Riverside or Zencastr, you're recording locally, so you would be recording on your computer, and I would be recording on mine. It would be doing it automatically through your internet browser, and then in the end, once we're done, I can just go through and pull those down, and I have a local video that isn't compressed. It's higher quality, both audio and video." (9:07)
This means that you won't experience glitches and lags in your recorded files, even if one party cuts in and out throughout the call. Before these platforms, the only way to receive this audio and video quality from remote guests was to have each party record themselves independent of the virtual meeting software and then perform a tape sync in post. For many podcasters, asking a potential guest to learn how to record themselves is simply too big of an ask. With Riverside and Zencastr, you don't have to worry about it.
"We've experienced it time and time again, where the internet drops out or we have some buffering or whatever else, and now all that digital noise that comes through – like what you would typically get in a Zoom call – You do not get that when it comes to Riverside and Zencastr." (10:16)
Arguably the best part of Riverside and Zencastr is their ease of use. While tape-syncs can be a big favor to ask, these programs are as easy to use as Zoom. Both run through your internet browser and don't require anything more of your guests than following a link allowing access to their built-in camera and microphone. "[With Riverside and Zencastr], the nice thing is, you're not jumping to some level that's really complicated. It's within your browser. You're not asking anyone to record anything on their end...And on your end, it's not a whole lot different either. You're mostly just having to hit record and then download the files at the end. And to have that amount of quality at such a user friendly experience, I just love that." (12:58)
Which one should I choose? So far, we've talked about Riverside and Zencastr as if they are identical, but the two platforms contain a handful of differences. The platforms are similar, but we've found that we prefer a couple of different features about each program.
For starters, Riverside can record video at up to 4k, while Zencastr is limited to 1080p. Riverside also has a producer function, which allows us to sit in on clients' recordings without recording any of our own audio or video.
The two platforms' pricing is similar, but Zencastr is slightly cheaper at $20 for up to 10-hours of recording each month. Riverside costs $19 for 5-hours of recording each month or $29 for 15-hours.
As for each platform's user interface, we recommend that you take advantage of the free trials to test out which you prefer.
Closing Thoughts It's important to remember that Zoom remains an acceptable option for your remote recordings. We never want to encourage you to spend money without necessity, and if Zoom meets your needs, stick with it! But, if you are looking to take your podcast to the next level, we recommend you do so with Riverside or Zencastr.
Ultimately, we chose to work with Riverside, as it fits our needs best. Which platform did you choose?