Skype. It’s an indispensable tool for podcasters. Countless numbers of tip sheets and tutorials have been published over the years in an effort to help producers gain maximum control over it. But it can still be an unwieldy beast, despite our best efforts to tame it. And while Skype’s nature may be troublesome enough on its own, it’s generally understood that the software itself is trustworthy and that we can rely on it to perform adequately at a basic level. But that perception changed for many users of the Skype Mac client this week.
By default, Skype is set to automatically update itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as these updates can provide overall improvements to the software. But having auto updates enabled allows the Skype development team to slide small changes into the application under the radar. Skype for OS X recently updated to version 7.8.388. This update brought a bug along with it that causes Skype to use the system default audio settings, regardless of how things are set in the Skype client itself.
If you’ve been hit by this bug, there’s a workaround that may get you thru until a future update corrects the problem. Simply go into your Mac’s System Preferences and open the Sound pane. From there, you can change the system settings to match whatever you’d prefer to use in Skype. Now, Skype will pass audio thru those sources. This solution may still cause some trouble for producers with complex setups that rely on the Skype and system audio I/O to be different. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to downgrade to the previous version of Skype.
I launched Skype last night to see if my version of the program had been updated. I was relieved to see that I was still using version 7.7.335. I went into my Skype preferences and unchecked the box next to “Always keep Skype up to date” at the bottom of the General tab (logging into the application was required to make this change).
Hopefully, the Skype team is on top of this issue and they’ll have it fixed in the next update. If you’ve had to deal with this problem, let us know how you’ve worked around it by leaving a comment below.
Skype has been standard issue in the podcaster’s toolkit since the beginning of the medium. Read any how-to guide on podcasting and you’re sure to see a bevy of tutorials on how to record Skype calls. But Skype is far from perfect. And while there have always been Skype alternatives, none of them have really measured up. That’s where FeenPhone comes in.
FeenPhone is an open source program that takes its name from the Freedom Feens podcast. From the FeenPhone website:
FeenPhone is superior in audio quality to Skype, Mumble, TeamSpeak, Blink, Ventrilo, Google Hangouts and phones. FeenPhone sounds crystal clear compared to all these programs/platforms.
And these programs aren’t truly duplex; when one person speaks loudly, it cuts out the quieter person. This makes conversations sound unnatural. Even experienced radio hosts sometimes naturally talk over each other a little bit, especially at the end of one person speaking and the start of another person speaking. We built software that is full-duplex so the audience feels like they’re in the same room with the people speaking, rather then having it feel like one person should say “Over…” when finished with a sentence. FeenPhone being true duplex makes it superior to other voice-over-Internet programs or phones in making conversations more conversational….more natural, less artificial.
With Call Recorder you get perfect recordings of your FaceTime chats, podcasts and interviews, side by side in crystal clear HD.
Feel like sharing? Convert your calls into MP3 files for podcasting or internet-ready movies for YouTube and Vimeo.
Doing some editing? Call Recorder lets you split the audio tracks after a call.
FaceTime Recorder also allows for recording of iPhone Handoff calls which is a nice addition to the software package.
FaceTime Recorder is available for download as a free trial. A license for the program can be purchased for $29.95. I haven’t used FaceTime Recorder yet but I can see how it could make for a valuable addition to any Mac-based podcaster’s toolkit. Visit the Ecamm website (linked above) or watch this video for more information on Call Recorder for FaceTime.
Developer VB-Audio Software has recently updated its audio production app Voicemeeter. Voicemeeter is a powerful software mixer for Windows that allows users to mix multiple hardware and virtual inputs. There are many possibilities for using Voicemeeter with podcasting. For example, Voicemeeter could be used to mix different sound sources such as USB headsets along with computer-based audio sources like software soundboards or media players. It could also be used for creating a mix-minus setup for recording Skype calls.
Voicemeeter has an extensive set of audio I/O for configuring signal paths. A list of possible uses from the Voicemeeter website (Note: VB-Audio Software is a French developer, so their English is a bit wonky.):
*To mix your voice with your music on Skype or Google Voice as well as for broadcasting and make your own radio.
*To use 2x USB Headset on a computer, for example for online educational program.
*To Play Video Game in 5.1 and keep the MIC for communication with your team.
*To make tutorial with your preferred audio software and pro quality.
*To Record Conference or Interview in multichannel for post production.
*To use different Audio Application together and record the performance in live with your preferred DAW.
*Finally to manage simply whatever sound sources on your computer in an easy way.
“We are now retiring older versions of Skype and it appears that you’re currently using one of these. To continue signing into Skype on your mobile or tablet, you’ll need to download the latest version. The new version comes with improved performance, the latest features and security updates, so you’ll get the best possible Skype experience.”
I hadn’t ever received an e-mail like this before from Skype. And usually, when iOS apps are updated, the process is pretty much automatic thru the App Store. I decided to investigate further. I launched iTunes and looked at apps I’d already downloaded. I saw that the Skype for iPad app (the only version I’m currently using) didn’t indicate an update was available. I looked at the listing for the Skype iPhone app in the App Store and saw that there was a new version of that app released earlier this month. I’m assuming that I received the e-mail because I had downloaded Skype for iPhone in the past, but I no longer own an iPhone, and I guess Skype somehow knew that I hadn’t downloaded the latest version of the iPhone app, and that’s what triggered the e-mail.
Bossjock Studio, developers of the popular Bossjock podcast-production app for iOS have released a demo of a mobile podcast production setup they call “Frankenskype.”
There are two topics of discussion that come up frequently on podcasting-centric forums: 1.) How to record Skype calls. 2.) How to produce mobile recordings. It looks like Bossjock tried to solve both of these problems by bringing Frankenskype to life. To elaborate, Frankenskype isn’t a product so much as it’s a technique for using battery-powered mobile gear to record both ends of a Skype call into the Bossjock app.
Today, Microsoft unveiled a new version of Skype that’s designed specifically for use by broadcasters. This new edition of the popular VOiP client is called Skype TX. (“TX” is likely a reference to an accepted abbreviation for “transmission.”) This is the first time in history that a specialized version of Skype has been developed and it looks like Microsoft is reacting to the growing number of media creators (big and small) who are using the application.
Microsoft hasn’t yet provided a complete list of technical specifications or pricing for Skype TX. But here are some things that are known about the upcoming release:
* Support for HD-SDI input/output * Handles multiple calls thru a single interface * Potentially distracting call alerts and notifications have been eliminated * Balanced audio input/output * Auto aspect ratio conversion
Skype is an essential item in any podcaster’s toolkit. And podcasters are always looking for ways to record and save the audio produced during a Skype call. Over the years, podcasters have relied on various hardware/software combinations and techniques to achieve this goal with some methods being more complex than others.
If you’re a podcaster using a Mac and you need a simple and reliable way to record Skype calls, take a look at Call Recorder by Ecamm. Call Recorder is an application that works directly with Skype to record audio or video calls. It also comes with a collection of extras that can be used to convert your Skype recording to other media formats.
Installation of Call Recorder is pretty straight forward. Just download the installer from the Ecamm website and run it like you would any other Mac software installer. Once it’s up and running, Call Recorder automatically launches when you run Skype.