Recording an Interview with Skype using Audacity 1.3

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In a previous article we described everything that you need to know about recording voice tracks. In this article by Bethany Hiitola, author of Getting started with Audacity 1.3, we will learn all the details of using third-party internet telephony software such as Skype to record telephone interviews. We will also cover how to set up a timed recording.

Recording an interview with Skype

If you are interested in doing more than solo podcasts with Audacity, you can always try creating interview podcasts. You can record these live in your office with your computer’s internal microphone, or with additional microphones. However, you can’t always perform an interview from the comfort of your office due to conflicting schedules and the location of your interviewee. Hence, let’s learn how to record an interview using your phone and your computer.

First you’ll need to install another software that allows you to make phone calls using your computer. The program we are going to use for this example is Skype. However, you could use other software that does the same thing for your Internet telephony set-up.

Download and install Skype

Skype is software that allows us to make voice calls over the Internet, particularly to other users of Skype. Some numbers (such as toll-free numbers) are free of charge, while calls to landlines and mobile phones may require a small fee.

For details on pricing for Skype credits for landline and cell calls go to: http://www.skype.com/.

Let’s briefy discuss how to download and install Skype.

  1. First, go to http://www.skype.com/ and download the appropriate version of the software for your computer.
  2. Once the installation package has been downloaded to your computer, double-click on it to begin the installation.

    For Mac computers, a .DMG file is downloaded. All you need to do is uncompress that file and drag-and-drop the Skype package to the Application folder. For any Windows device, an .exe file is downloaded. Double-click on that file to begin the installation. For Linux, there are multiple distributions available.

  3. If you aren’t already prompted to do so, start the Skype application and follow the on-screen instructions to sign up for a new Skype account.
  4. Once you have registered and signed in, the main Skype screen is displayed, which should look similar to the next screenshot:

    Getting started with Audacity 1.3

Set up Skype for your telephone interview

For our project, we’ve been using the computer’s internal microphone, so there shouldn’t be any additional set up in either Skype or Audacity. However, to be sure you may want to check the recording input devices in Audacity to make sure that you can record both sides of the interview. To do this, use the following steps:

  1. In the Audacity window, go to the main menu, and then select Audacity and then Preferences.

    When using a computer running the Microsoft Windows or Linux operating systems, you can find these preferences from the main menu. Select File and then Preferences.

  2. In the Audacity Preferences window, select Devices.

    Getting started with Audacity 1.3

  3. Check the Device settings under Recording. Particularly if you are using multiple inputs, it may be best to select Stereo Mixer or similar input.

    If there are many devices listed with the Recording | Device drop-down menu, perform a few interview tests with a friend on Skype prior to the recording session, to determine which of the connected devices will actually be doing the recording.

You might also want to turn off all notifcations in Skype. These are all of the alert sounds for events such as contacts logging in and out, incoming call alerts, and so on. To do this, follow the steps shown below:

  1. Open Skype and log in.
  2. From the main menu, select Skype and then Preferences.
  3. Select the Notifcations tab.
  4. Be sure to uncheck the Play Sound checkbox. This will make sure that all sounds are suspended and won’t interrupt your recording session.

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