Due to its popularity and ease of use, Zoom.us has been a commonly used platform for podcast recording. The downside was that Zoom’s audio quality has always been quite poor. Other platforms such as Squadcast have offered better audio, but some people simply felt more comfortable with Zoom or needed video recording. Fortunately, Zoom has stepped their game up for podcasters by introducing Zoom High Fidelity Audio.
What is Zoom High Fidelity Audio?
According to Zoom:
This option in Advanced Audio enhances “Original Audio” mode, allowing for disabling echo cancellation & post-processing, while raising audio codec quality to 48Khz, 96Kbps mono/192kbps stereo for professional audio transmission in music education and performance applications. Professional audio interface, microphone, and headphones required.
In other words, you can now get much better audio recording quality from Zoom for your podcast. And don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need any professional equipment.
How Do I Enable Zoom High Fidelity Audio?
You do need to manually enable it by going to Settings > Audio > Advanced. Next, tick the box next to “High fidelity music mode“. This option will only appear if you click the first item under Advanced. That item is “Show in-meeting option to “Enable Original Sound” from microphone“.
Bonus: While in settings, also go to Recording and ensure the “Record a separate audio file for each participant” option is ticked. This will give your podcast editor more flexibility to produce the best sound, and be able to fix things like talk-overs or movement noises on one track while the other person is speaking.
In our initial tests, Zoom’s High Fidelity Audio was definitely better. It is on par or just slightly below the offerings from other podcast recording platforms. Since so many people were already recording with Zoom even before this improvement, it’s a welcome change. Capturing real-time audio online comes with challenges, though, so it’s never going to sound as good as a local recording made straight to your hard drive. (Side note: Maybe the transmitted audio is 48KHz sample rate, but we weren’t able to get recordings to come out at anything other than Zoom’s usual 32KHz)
Getting the Best Podcast Audio from Zoom
Zoom is commonly used for video conferencing and meetings where audio isn’t the priority. There are often multiple speakers, lack of headphones, no professional microphones, etc. For this reason, Zoom incorporates some processing and settings to help provide the best experience in those situations. This includes noise suppression, automatic volume adjustments, and echo cancellation.
While this may seem good in theory, it is not for podcasters. Since these settings are all automatic and not dialed in specifically for your situation, they will never perform well compared to what a skilled podcast editor can do. And, once the Zoom audio is recorded with these settings enabled, there’s no undoing it.
For podcasting, the best thing you can do is get the cleanest possible raw recording. That gives you ultimate flexibility in editing. This is where the “Original Sound” option comes in. This allows you to bypass all of Zoom’s automatic settings and get a clean recording.
To use this, you’ll need to ensure the “Show in-meeting option to “Enable Original Sound from microphone” option is enabled, as shown above. Then, from the meeting view, you’ll see a button to “Turn on Original Sound” in the top left corner. You can click this to enable original sound.
An added benefit is selecting your preferred audio device (microphone) from the dropdown list by clicking the arrow. This will allow Zoom to keep Original Sound on and you won’t need to enable it each time.
Getting Awesome Guest Audio
Your guest will need to take these same steps if you want to benefit from Zoom’s High Fidelity Audio on their recording. Otherwise, only your voice will be recorded with Original Sound and High Fidelity Audio.
We recommend providing the guest with a prep sheet (found below). When starting the call and before recording, have them click Turn on Original Sound at the top of the meeting window if it isn’t already on. This will allow for a high quality Zoom call that is ideal for podcasting.
Important Details About Zoom’s Audio Settings
When changing any settings like this, the time to do so is not five minutes before your interview with that super-hard-to-get high-profile guest.
Make these adjustments when you have time to test it out with a friend by doing a test call. Check the recording, have your editor take a look, make sure everything is looking and sounding good. The last thing you want is to get into a scheduled podcast interview and encounter problems, or find out that the recording is junk.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Zoom says a professional audio interface, microphone, and headphones are required for high fidelity mode. While the overall quality can generally benefit with any microphone, it is ESSENTIAL that both you and the guest are wearing headphones.
- It’s always recommended to use a wired internet connection (both you and the guest) when conducting interview recordings. This is sometimes a challenge, but using WiFi can lead to dropouts and other issues. High fidelity audio will be even more bandwidth-intensive, so it may cause problems where there were none before. If you hear audio dropouts during your interviews, have the guest switch back to normal audio mode.
- Provide your podcast guests with a prep sheet like this ahead of time. This will let them know what they’ll need and what settings to adjust to achieve optimal audio quality with Zoom High Fidelity Audio. Before starting, verify with them that the settings are correct, and do your own check by listening for quality audio free of dropouts or echo.
- It can’t be overstated how much of an improvement can be achieved by using even headphones with a built-in mic. Commonly, guests will not own a professional mic. However, they may have a set of iPhone headphones. Avoid at all costs using a computer’s internal microphone for any guest.
That’s it! Now you know how enabling Zoom’s High Fidelity Audio can help you get the best possible audio quality for your podcast recordings, while sticking with the platform that you know and love.
Note: High fidelity audio isn’t available on Zoom’s mobile apps at present time.