Skype vs Zoom.us for podcast recordings

Skype-vs-Zoom-for-podcasting

Podcasters have been using Skype to record interviews over the internet for a decade. As with any VOIP service, it has its issues.

In the past 1-2 years, Zoom.us became the darling of the industry. However, as with all VOIP services, it has it's issues too.

I love Zoom.us, but it is NOT for podcasting.

The audio is sub-par…and I have the audio to prove it!

Skype vs Zoom

To listen to the side-by-side comparison of the three options:

You will hear:

  1. Zoom.us (raw)
  2. Zoom.us with Original Sound turned on for my guest
  3. Skype

Thanks to Daniel Abendroth from RothMedia.audio for being my test example.


My observations of Zoom.us

Zoom.us is a fantastic service.

I pay for the Pro version (about $149 a year) because it's the only video conferencing solution that allows any participant to share their computer's audio.

That feature comes in VERY handy when holding class with my students or existing contractors.

Zoom's best features for the average person are:

  • Easy to use interface with lots of features
  • Stable connection (not as many “Skype Jitters“)
  • Great noise cancellation

But Zoom's greatest features are also it's downfall.

Zoom.us has to compress the signal in order to keep a stable connection.

That is not good for podcasting.

The audio from a Zoom.us call is recorded at 32000 Hz. Most services will record at 44100 Hz or greater.

In other words, Zoom records 30% less audio than just about everything else.

Summary: Zoom's audio is constant, but sounds “hazy” – which can cause hearing fatigue.


Turning on Zoom's Original Sound

I've been told time and time again to “Turn on Zoom's Original Sound feature”.

Read how to turn on Zoom's Original Sound here

Daniel Abendroth from RothMedia.audio was my test subject in the audio example above.

At first, he didn't have the option to turn on Original Sound.

We disconnected, came back into the call, and the option appeared.

Zoom-Original-Sound-example-mic-was-hot
I could tell Original Sound was being captured because the audio clipped (aka: was too hot)

Result: His audio was noticeably better – but still hazy.


Skype still beats Zoom

Daniel and I connected via Skype. The difference was noticeable from the start – which you can hear in our 3-way comparison.

Here it the 15 seconds from the test recording above in case you want to check it out (click here)

play-here-opens-in-new-window

Result: There are other great VOIP services out there. SquadCast and Zencastr get my highest recommendation. However, to make this comparison short and simple I chose to just use Zoom and Skype.


The pros and cons of Zoom.us for podcasting

Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of Zoom.us for recording podcast interviews:

Pros of Zoom.us:

+Stable and reliable (no Zencastr Drift and few Skype Jitters to deal with)

+Easy to use (no account or email opt-in necessary)

+You can see your guest when interviewing them (not an option with Zencastr's service)

+Can record each person's audio separately (the same as Skype or Zencastr)

+They have a free version and a relatively inexpensive Pro version with additional benefits

Cons of Zoom.us:

– Sub-par audio quality – even when Original Sound has been turned on

– Daniel and I can't figure out why Original Sound wasn't an option when he first connected with me. That would be frustrating to deal with a high-profile guest with limited time


SUMMARY of Skype vs Zoom.us:

IMO, the Cons outweigh the Pros because Zoom audio begins to hurt my ears after about 15 minutes.

This makes it more difficult to listen to sub-par audio for extended periods of time.

Because there are so many services out there with similar strengths and faults, the scales tip in favor of almost all the other VOIP competitors out there.

I simply can not recommend Zoom.us be used to record audio content. It's great for virtual meetings, but horrible for recording podcast content.


Technical notes:

  • I used the .m4a files from Zoom because they were the best quality of all the formats that recorded
  • Ecamm Call Recorder was used for the Skype call with Audio Encoding set to AAC Compression, resulting in a .mov file
  • The audio in this example had not been altered in any way, other than converting the audio to mp3
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