Skype for Interviews – A How-To Video

After years of discouraging the use of Skype for interviews here at The Conversations Network, we’re now saying a resounding Yes! Paul Figgiani and I have prepared this audiovisual presentation that covers all you need to know in order to get true broadcast-quality Skype recordings.

For more info and discussion, visit The Conversations Network’s forums.

115 thoughts on “Skype for Interviews – A How-To Video

  1. Hello great tutorial, checking my skype technical log I see a codec called SILK, I understand this codec is new and its suppose to be better, will your tweaks still apply, ie. port forwarding all those examples. Thanks in advance.

    Like

  2. Paul and I have not had a chance to check out the new codec in detail. Theoretically it *should* be even better than SVOPC. All other aspects of the video still apply since they’re independent of the codec used.

    Like

  3. Hello,

    Great tutorial. I work for a television station in Chicago. We have a very specific need for skype. Recently we sent a reporter to Afganstan and used skype for live television reports. One problem we have encountered is when ever the video breaks up the audio breaks up too, is there a way to make the audio independent of the video? We want to keep hearing the reporter on the other end even if the video connection is down or breaking up. Please advise.

    Thanks,

    Lorne Golman

    Like

  4. I haven’t studied Skype’s protocols at the packet level, but my guess is that whatever causes a loss of packets for video is doing the same for audio. They might even be in the same packets for that matter. So there’s not likely to be anything you can do.

    Like

  5. Thanks very much for making this tutorial! I took some notes while watching and thought others might appreciate having the key points outlined while configuring:

    Of course, shut down any other bandwidth/CPU users
    Enable technical call info in Skype preferences
    During a call, you want:
    No or nearly no packet loss
    Roundtrip under 200ms
    BM (bandwidth) > 5000
    UDP status (both): Good
    CPU < 25% (very important!)
    Relays: 0 is the ideal
    Router settings (which lower relays):
    Static IP
    Forward your incoming Skype port (TCP/UDP) to your IP
    Recording Skype calls:
    Seperate tracks for host and guest make post-production easier
    Record in WAV of AIFF, not MP3
    Mac: Audio Hijack Pro (best) or Call Recorder
    Play outputs through left channel
    Play inputs through right channel
    Fill audio gaps with nothing
    Windows: CallBurner (best), Pamela, TotalRecorder Pro, CallSoft VOiP
    Audio format: PCM 44.1kHz 16 bit stereo
    Store raw audio in addition
    Post-Production:
    Use gate or auto gain reduction
    Or, mute tracks manually when that side isn’t talking
    The Levelator (plugin) evens levels as the final stage

    Like

  6. Thank you for taking the time to produce is video.

    Have you all tried these tests with video also? I sure a lot of your settings information would pertain to video also. Could you also produce a video to talk about video parameters? Or do you have some information?

    I have broadcast quality cameras which I would want to use as an external camera to a MacBook Pro 17″ v10.5.7 2.93 Ghz processor to interface using Skype

    Any comments or help would be appreciated.

    Dieter

    Like

  7. Hi, Dieter. We have little experience with video and don’t have plans to produce another program about video. All of the router configuration issues should be the same however.

    Like

  8. Hi Doug….

    1) do you consider this video still up to date or are there any relevant changes since video made?

    2) any opinion about skype vs vonage or another service for recording broadcast quality interviews?

    3) I have only skimmed the video thus far – I dont think this is covered – I apologize if it is – with your settings can you easily do voice effects and send sound to person you are talking to – and record all that – for example if I was interviewing you about a song could a play clips of the song – and you would hear it and the clips would be recorded on one of the channels too?

    4)is there any reason at this point people would still use a hybrid for a home set up?

    Like

  9. a couple of additions to above

    (in question 4 I meant if only have VOIP phones anyway – does hybrid play any useful role

    5) if just getting started with this stuff – any opinion of mac vs pc?

    6)I have heard Skype may be on brink of being sold or closed..any idea if this is true- do u know if recording 2 channel broadcast quality interviews could easily be done with vonage too?

    7) any other helpful sources you would recommend for recording broadcast quality audio interviews over phone?

    thanks so much…I stumbled onto this site on a google search and it appears very helpful

    Like

  10. That’s a lotta questions, Ben! To avoid a super-long post…

    1. Skype has a new codec (SILK) that should be at least as good for this purpose as SVOPC.

    2. Vonage and other VoIP services can have good quality, but with Vonage you still need a hybrid.

    3. Depends entirely on the setup on your computer. Macs and PCs are different in this regard. You gotta play with it.

    4. Hybrids are generally ore reliable than all the stuff we use with Skype. More dropped calls with Skype.

    5. No opinion. We use both. Windows is the first to get new Skype features and codecs.

    6. No idea about the biz stuff. See earlier answer to Vonage. I think you still need a hybrid to get the audio off the analog side of the adapter unless there’s a digital interface. I’ve used Comcast VoIP but never Vonage.

    7. http://transom.org/?p=1165

    Like

  11. Thank You!..

    a few follow ups

    1) when you say “more dropped calls with Skype” vs hybrid – do you mean with all skype calls in general or do you mean specifically when you are recording you are more often losing calls?

    2)Can your system handle speaking/recording multiple callers at once

    3) When asked above about sharing sound files with peron you are interviewing – I imagine people must be dong this – anyone know what works best with this system for a mac to do that – for example – if I am interviewing someone about a song and want to play them a clip of the song and get their response – of course – in this instance I would want to record my voice, their voice and the song I am playing for them

    4) do you have links to interviews you have done usng the set up described in the video (I know the video itself demonstrates this – but would love to hear multiple “real life” examples)

    Like

  12. One tip I have that you’d not mentioned for the PC, is the use of the “Skype for Business” version: http://www.skype.com/business/

    It has always boasted better quality on voice and business calls. I have no proof but what I believe it does is adjust the priority of the threads so that it is not optimized for sharing resources with games, but for producing the highest quality call. I’ve used it rather than the standard version for years. I work for b5media and being virtualized company spread across several nations/continents, we rely on Skype for communications 8+ hours a day.

    (That said, I am refusing the 4.0 upgrade – as it removes many of the text chat benefits. Down with Skype 4!!!)

    Like

  13. Does anyone know offhand if Vonage Companion (Vonage’s softphone which can automatically record) can record file in stereo – i.e left and right channel for input and output and if so how does it compare to skype

    Like

  14. anyone know if snow leopard – mac’s latest OS is compatible with all this stuff? – I was just going to add it

    also – how do you get the person on other end to to hear (and part of your recording) sound files/sound effects?

    Like

  15. Great demo, thanks.

    Does anyone have a tip for avoiding that “wet mouth” sound that some people (like the main speaker on this demo) have?

    Like

  16. The tutorial is very clear and detailed, so thanks! I’ve done 2 recordings: 1 within the office (on the same network) which turned out crystal clear, and 1 remote (between TX and MA), which turned out clear, but has strange intermittent beeps sprinkled throughout. Is that due to the internet connection itself? Any quick fixes for it?

    Like

  17. 2 questions

    1) if connect directly to cable modem does that negate having to poke port holes?

    2) should the new superfast internet connections – such as Fios or Time Warners Wideband make a significant difference in clarity?

    Like

  18. Anonymous: (1) If there’s no router then you may not need to do some of these things, but make sure there’s no router running in your computer. Often there is. (2) Once the bandwidth is more than Skype will use, there’s no advantage to a higher connection speed.

    Like

  19. concerning your response in #82 above…do you know what the max bandwith is that skype will use? Does the normal boradband fulfill that? or do faster speeds especially upload in Fios make better?

    and do you know offhand if a macbook pro has this internal router you speak of?

    Like

  20. I don’t know the max Skype will use, but it’s certainly much less than what a broadband connection provides. Video will use more than just audio. FIOS shouldn’t help unless you’ve got a lot of other activity on your connection at the same time.

    Like

  21. any idea why the skypeout is always a “lower” codec than a skype to skype…do you guys use skypeout or only skype to skype?

    Like

  22. Thanks for this great tutorial. I’ve been looking for this sort of information for my interviews. I’ll refer all my colleagues to your blog. Great job!

    Like

  23. When I Skype to Skype Echo/Sound Test, I get wonderful tech specs on the call, including Codec=SILK_V3 and Relays=0. But when I look at Call Technical Information for a SkypOut call to my regular telephone, the Call Technical Information shows Codec=G729, and the Relays is missing (as well as SessionOut and SessionIn). Is this normal for a SkypeOut call to a regular telephone?

    Like

  24. Sorry, I meant to say the entire Relays LINE is missing. Also, UDP status local=Good but UDP status remote= is blank after the equals sign. Same question.

    Like

  25. I purchased Total Recorder Standard Edition but find it very inconsistent in how it works with Skype. Did several interviews with it & Skype. I had my voice on 1 channel & the skype voice on the other – so I can edit each separately if I needed to. Well, today it stopped working like that. Records the same data to both channels. I have spent so so much time just second guessing Total Recorder, still not figuring it out. I am ready to trash it and throw it out. Don’t want to spend another minute on their website as it will be all, “Ra, Ra, Ra” How good is that stuff …

    I need something simple to setup yet reliable, in that it always works. As a podcaster, I can’t waste my time babysitting a recorder. I have to produce podcasts, like many of you. I am on a PC, btw.

    Suggestions or Recommendations appreciated !

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s