Recording Skype :: MX Skype Recorder

We went to record The Global Geek Podcast last week and something came up and Knightwise was unable to attend the recording. Knightwise usually records the show on his Mac using Call Recorder. So as you might appreciate, him not able to be there and nobody else with a spare Mac at hand we were stuck. We needed to find a method to record the show and fast!

We went through a few dirty hacks. The worst of which is to change your audio source to Stereo Mix. This mixes everything that you hear back through the sound card. This means that you can hit record on any recording software and record Skype. While this works and flawlessly it has one major and limiting side effect. The other person gets their voice feed back to them with a slight delay. For some psychological reason it makes it nearly impossible to talk properly.

We also considered doing a double ended recording. That is I record my end locally and Tim his. This gives great quality and awesome control over levels. But the drawback here is that you have 2 huge files and one of those files has to get to me to edit it. Because there are 2 files it also means that I have to splice the two together flawlessly to sync the audio. Easier said than done. Extra post production editing is never a good thing.

We checked out a few options that I have checked out before. None are stunning or perfect and most are well below par in every respect. Tim though found a gem that I had not unearthed. MX Skype Recorder. Not a plugin but a separate program that enables you to record Skype with the great quality that we demand and expect for the show. It also has some features that make it ideal.

MX Skype Recorder Interface

Once you have downloaded MX Recorder you need to run the application then run Skype or make the call. You can not start recording mid call. It is as simple as hitting the record button to record a call once you have done this. By default it records an .mp3 with average quality settings. Fine to just capture the call but no good for podcasting. Enter the options.

In the options you can record a call in either a .mp3 (lame) or a PCM wav. The latter is what you want for recording a podcast. As I have said before you should not edit a .mp3 due to it’s lossy format. So I set to it to record a .wav. Now there are two options record as a “mixed” input and output or as a “dual channel”. Dual channel gives you one channel for input and one channel for output. So you have left with one person and right with the other. This is great because with any good audio editor you can get the levels right for each one. Once you are happy with the levels mix the audio into a mono mix then if you usually produce your show as stereo split it into a stereo mix. It might require some amplification after this process, just be careful you don’t clip the audio. I would suggest using a compressor to do this as it is a more balanced method of getting the volume right. Then just edit the show as you normally would.

MX Skype Recorder Options

There are many settings for outputting to a .mp3. Including changing the kHz and sample rate. Use this if you are into doing a raw unedited podcast. Your output is your show. Add ID3 tags and change the file name and you are done. Nice seamless experience.

One tip that I would pass on. Initially the levels were off, by a long way. I was very soft the incoming track was fine. But to try and fix this was a bit of a nightmare as I had already performed the above mixing procedure and edited the show. Now what we found out was that MX Recorder uses the levels that are set in Skype for the outputs. Do a few test recordings and get them right before you record. We also found this went part way to making it perfect. I needed to increase my output locally. We got a magic recording by taking the time to tweak these settings. Use the inbuilt level indicators, get your audio equal. Doesn’t matter it it is too soft you can adjust this in post production. But make sure you are not clipping, you can’t fix that!

The end result was great MX Skype Recorder is a winner in my book. It has a very small footprint and is easy to use. It compresses the file fast and outputs where ever you want it to and stamps it with the date and time. This little app works with multiple callers as well. But remember you have one channel for all input. Everyone that is conferenced in will be on that one channel. Do a test recording and get participants to adjust their output as needed. The mess that would result otherwise does not want talking about.

This program performed well and is one of the best recorders for Skype that I have used, if not the best. One drawback might be that the software is not free. There is a free version that will only record for 5 minutes. But for $14.95 US for the Standard Version it is a small price to pay in my opinion. Nice work by these guys and until Skype get their act together and give us a record button it will do the trick nicely.

Here is the show that I recorded with MX Skype Recorder. I am sure the next effort will be better still as we had a few settings that we could have better tweaked.

As a side note MX Skype Recorder will also record other VoIP applications such as Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger although I have not tested these applications.

MX Skype Recorder Homepage

Firefox 2, First Impressions

So I have now installed and have been using Firefox 2 for the last two hours. Here are my first impressions in short hand.

  • Installing was a breeze (as you might expect)
  • The process of making my extensions work was also fairly easy
  • The seamless importing of my bookmarks and extensions was appreciated
  • I had no trouble with my theme that I love working as an update was made (Noia 2.0 (eXtreme). Ironically I am yet to see the new default theme in action.
  • I did have some trouble getting the Tool Bar for RoboForm to be put back where I last saw it. I ended up having to install a new version and it seemed to just appear. I have no idea as to if this was a compatibility issue or something else.
  • I especially like the integration of my RSS reader into Firefox. This is a nice touch as it adds to the accessibility of RSS feeds to users, for me it just makes life a lot easier.
  • The auto fill for searching is great and seems to work, although I have not used it a lot yet
  • Better management of the search plugins is good. Previously deleting a search was acomplished with an “addon” (I hate the new name for extensions!)
  • I hate the red X in the tabs, as I said in a previous post you can close tabs with a middle click (mouse wheel) and I could not see the point of putting it in. It makes my theme look a little dirty and not quite as slick
  • The extra security features are a nice inclusion and the more advanced settings appreciated
  • But by far my most appreciated and most used feature in the last two hours is the inbuilt spell checker for typed words on a page, in real time. I can not spell – period. This feature works in comments, blog posting in an AJAX interface, just about everything! So far has been right every time! I love it. I sincerely hope that in time this feature improves with country specific dictionaries and such. Although at present you can add words to a custom dictionary

While there is a lot more that could be said, these are the things that have struck me over the last couple of hours. I like Firefox 2 and I am looking forward to using the features. Damn this spell check is good, post spell checked already…

Great work from the Mozilla crew yet again. The best browser just got better.

Firefox 2

Firefox 2 Out Now!

I was just reading that Firefox 2 is due out tomorrow. But I have a hot tip for you… It is already there!

Firefox 2 is available right now on their FTP server [link removed, see comments]. So get in quick while the load will be smaller because they have not publicized it yet.

If you are not comfortable using FTP the great guys over at Cybernet News have put together a downloader, just select the language from the drop-down and click your Operating System of choice and it should come right at you as a download.

Officially the new version will not be out until tomorrow, if you want to wait. But as I said the rush will be on then!

Me I am way too tired to tackle it today. That is a job for tomorrow, but I will definitely check it out this week so we can talk about it on the podcast next week. I have been told also that nearly all of the popular extensions are supported in Firefox 2, which is good to know.

If you happen to come across an extension that is not supported then there are ways around it. I have collected articles of the RSS that will come in handy and this post: Firefox 2: Making your old extensions work from Download Squad in September will have all the tools and tips to help you out. Hope that helps.

UPDATE: Due to the blog post from Mozilla, the link to the FTP Server has been removed from this post. However, you can now officially download Firefox 2 from Mozilla. I will state however that I some what agree with some of the sentiments expressed in the comments of the post.

Skype 2.6 Beta Released

Skype LogoFound out today that Skype 2.6 beta is out. Normally I would jump on it and install it with much excitement. But because there is no record button I am going to sulk a few days, maybe a week.

If you want to check it out you can download it here.

The other reason I am not going to install it straight away is that there is nothing mind blowingly outstanding or must have about it. Well maybe one feature that would be good.

Listed features:

  • Skypecasts on LIVE Tab

No interest, I hope you can deselect it in the “view” options

  • Browser Plugins

Why? Not sure that I would use this at all. In my opinion this just makes you use SkypeOut and I don’t like choice being manipulated. But you never know it might be useful to some people. Glad it is an optional install.

  • Clickable Links in Mood Messages

Now this one I like. Lots of people put links in their mood messages and I am no exception. I often put a link to the podcast here or I might link to the blog or whatever. I can think of many ways that this would be useful and fun.

  • Birthday Notifications

I don’t think this is very useful at all. I presume that it is using the user details that are a part of the Skype account. Which assumes that everyone fills in these details and that they are correct. The majority of users probably do not fill it in and if they do use a bogus date. Usefulness as a result gets a 3/10 in my book. That is one for each Skype contact that I think filled in their birthday accurately!

  • Clickable Avitars in Chat Windows

Not sure what this means exactly and what it does, user information maybe? But it might be useful.

  • Avitar Drag and Drop Ability

Might be handy to add people to a chat or call. Otherwise no big deal in my opinion.

It would seem that this edition of Skype is more of a bug fix than a great new features edition. Sure I am jaded. I love Skype but it is looking more like bloat everyday. I wonder how much bandwidth the whole Skypecasts thing will steal? I hate to think. Then get 7 million users doing it at the same time! I make that assumption from the 8 “new features”, 4 “changes”, 41 bug fixes (might be off by one or two here, very hard to count that many you know) and a further and a remaining 2 “known issues”.

Well I just hope that makes Skype better because I am not thinking big here. Give us the bloody record button… please? Sorry that was uncalled for but I am getting tired of waiting and I think this is something I need more than Skypecasts. I will try not to be a cynical bastard on the next post.

Usual beta rules apply.