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podcast recording separate tracks on zoom

Why do separate tracks matter?

When each speaker on your podcast has their own track (aka audio file), editing out problems is easier. You can silence coughs, pen clicks, dog barking, the wails of unhappy children or whatever unwanted noise without having to delete any content. For instance, here’s what that looks like one track versus what it looks like on 2 tracks.

Single Track

Separate Tracks

To get rid of the offending audio in a single track would require lots of fancy editing and effects that will probably distort at worst or reduce your audio quality at best. To get rid of the offensive audio in separate tracks is a lot easier and you’ll preserve your audio quality. All you’ll need to do is cut or silence the track with unwanted noise.

Unwanted audio removed by cutting in Audition

In addition to the noise problem a single track presents, there are also other limitations. You can’t EQ precisely. You can’t apply effects to one speaker. It puts major limitations on getting the best from your audio. Separate tracks help you get the most out of your audio and you should always, always record each speaker on their own track whenever possible. 

Zoom is an incredibly easy bit of software to use for remote interviews for both podcast hosts and guests. Yet, recorded separate tracks set up in Zoom isn’t. There’s a disconnect there that has puzzled many and led them to believe it’s simply not possible. The support pages don’t address it, either, or at least not in a straight forward way.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve been frustrated by this. 3 other editors and I spent a good hour figuring this out with mixed results.  Zoom fails at making this easy.

How to Record Separate Tracks in Zoom

Before you begin, set your account to allow local recordings through your Zoom.us account web dashboard:

My Meeting Settings>Recording…Turn ON Local Recording. (You’ll want to save files on your computer because multiple tracks mean more data)

Then, follow these steps and you should get separate tracks whether you launch a meeting from the desktop client or from the web.

  1. Download the desktop client, double click to install. Once installation is complete, launch the app. (https://zoom.us/support/download)

2) In the top right corner, click the GEAR icon

3) In the settings menu, click on RECORDING

4) Tick the box that says “Record a separate audio file for each participant who speaks

You can also set your local recording folder here. By default, its set to C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\Documents\Zoom

Your settings are saved without any further steps. Ta-da!!!! 

Your editing (and podcasting life) will now be easier because you’re eliminating the need to do heavy lifting in your editing process. Individual tracks for each speaker may seem more complicated, but in post production, it actually makes life easier by giving more control and easier options for enhancing and fixing troubled sound.

More Info at Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362473-Local-Recording