Recording Phone Interviews And Taking Live Calls During Podcast Shows

by Cliff Ravenscraft on October 30, 2008

IMPORTANT: It is very important to note that this post was created in October 2008. Since this time, I no longer recommend the JK Audio Telephone Interface Device, except only as a last resort. Since 2008, Skype’s ability to dial out to a telephone line has improved greatly in its reliability. Today, I recommend that you first try using Skype for bringing guests into your podcasts via the telephone. If you want to learn more about how to do this, I encourage you to check out my tutorial called “Podcaster’s Guide To Recording Co-Hosts, Guests & Podcast Interviews. You can find this tutorial on my products page.

Below this line is the original post from 2008

Please watch this video first and then see the information below the video:

When I do telephone interviews for my podcast, I use the JK Audio Broadcast Host to get from my phone line into my mixer. This device allows me to take a single analog telephone line and patch the audio to and from that phone line to my mixer. Basically turning my mixer into the “handset” of the phone. I’m very happy with this solution.

I actually shared how I use this device in my Inside The Studio: Equipment Setup & Podcast Workflow Video Tutorial Series. I am happy to provide the portion of this video tutorial series shows how I hook up the JK Audio Broadcast Host below.

Inside The Studio Tutorial Part 3 of 7
(Note: Audio Quality Is MUCH Higher In Downloadable Version)

I hope the above video gives you an idea of the level of quality put into this video tutorial series. If you like what you see above and would like to see the rest of the tutorial series that includes ALL OF MY EQUIPMENT and my complete, step by step, podcast workflow, Please CLICK HERE FOR THE TUTORIAL PAGE.

Recently, I received a question from a client who wanted to know if he could use the Broadcast Host to hook up to his ISDN line. The answer is “no” because it is not an analog phone system. I called JK Audio and asked them what they have for this and they told me about the JK Audio InKeeper PBX.

It turns out that the InKeeper PBX is “exactly the same” as the Broadcast Host except that the connection to the phone line happens at the point of the “handset connection” of a standard telephone. This means that the phone is doing the translation from digital to analog signal and the InKeeper PBX plugs in where you would normally plug in the handset and the handset plugs into the InKeeper PBX. (See Diagram Below) (Note: this does not work with phones where the “dial pad” is in the handset).

Now, what is awesome about this is that with the handset being the point of connection, this means you could have a “multi-line” phone system, hence the name PBX, where you can switch back and forth between multiple phone lines, just like you would do if you were simply using the phone’s handset switching to another line. This is going to fill the need of many of my clients who want to be able to use multiple phone lines to allow for a queue of callers waiting. This also allows for someone on another extension to “pre-screen” those calls as well.

Here’s the diagram of how you could set this up: (However, I would recommend using the Compressor/Limiter/Gate as demonstrated in the embedded video above).

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  • Actually, the inline patch is less expensive because it doesn’t do the same the that the Broadcast Host does. The inline patch will do a db separation of the caller’s audio from your own, but your own voice would come back from the phone line if you are hoping to record the conversation on your end.

    If you are simply trying to send audio out to the telephone and don’t care about recording on your end, the Inline patch is great.

    If you are wanting to send your audio to the telephone, but record your own voice locally, as well as recording the voice of the person on the phone, locally, then you would want a Broadcast Host which would digitally separate the caller’s audio from your own, so that only the caller’s voice is coming in from the phone line.

    I dont’ have a diagram for the inline patch. However, the folks at JK Audio support are AMAZING! Try giving them a call at 800-552-8346 or email them at [email protected].

    I hope this helps

  • MrzTazzSouthsoundsradio

    I have my callers calling in through skype so how can I broadcast live and answer the phone live ??

  • DJAlmondBrown

    I’m using a, Xenyx 802 Mixer, Focusrite Safire Pro 40, Broadcast Host Digital Hybrid. All running in to Logic. For the life of me I can’t seem to figure out how to set-up so callers can hear me. I can hear them just fine, and record Their audio to the appropriate track.
    I would really appreciate you expertise & help.


  • MrzTazzSouthsoundsradio There is an answer to this.  However, it’s much more involved than I can answer in a single comment response.   I do not currently have any tutorials on live broadcasting as my primary focus is on the “podcasting / on demand” side of things.  Sorry I don’t have more to offer you at this time.

  • DJAlmondBrown I’ve not use a Safire Pro 40.  I’ll tell you what. I have a referral network of podcast consultants. If you would like, I could refer you to someone who could help you with this.  If interested, please just email me [email protected]

  • @Cliff Ravenscraft Cliff – I have just purchased the Broadcast Host after several yrs with the Remot Sport which does OK but is not really for interviews. I was not planning on using a mixer but have one if needed but prefer as few gadgets and wires as possible! My issue is that I use Magic Jack which is VOIP and according to your video the BH cannot do voip. This was not a problem with the Remote Mix and I assumed, after emailing JK that it woud work fine with my set up. What I am having issues with is the recording of the incoming call – I am getting nothing. This has been happening since Magic Jack did an upgrade to improve quality. Do you have any ideas as to if this is a lost case or if I purchased the wrong machine???

  • katecopsey I don’t have any experience with Magic Jack.  I would recommend that you reach out to the folks at JK Audio.

  • tcrews

    You have to set up the monitor mixes correctly in Scarlett mix control and make sure your mix minus is set up correctly.

  • Hi Cliff, first off thanks for all the help! Wow, you really are the podcast answer man. The question I have is about having people call in to our show. Our current situation is I record a radio show with a friend of mine and we’re in different parts of the world (Bali & LA). We both record into GarageBand with a Yeti, then I layer them to make the finished product. I’m wondering if there’s any way to have a caller join us without losing the audio quality that we have recording straight into our computers with the Yeti. Any suggestions?

  • Perhaps you could send a digital recorder to the guest and have them record their side and send it back to you to add into the mixdown. or you could all three call into a phone conference bridget that can record that side of the call and you could take that recording and mute anything that you and your co-host said and only use the voice of the caller from that recording. Yes, it’s telephone quality audio, but would only be fore the guest. No matter what, all this would be a big of a pain in post production. But would offer what you are looking for.

  • Ok thanks Cliff, yeah it’s a tough one. So you think I could record through a phone conference bridge and only record one caller? Do you know of software that would do that?

  • Nope. It will record all three of you. You’d have to go through the trouble of multing all the callers on that recording except for your guest. This is that “huge pain” that I was referring to. 🙂

  • Hi Cliff, terrific info on podcasting. Many thanks. In regard to this thread, why wouldn’t you just use a service such as to host a conference call, record the call using their recording function, then download the MP3 and use that recording for the podcast?

  • Brian, for me, I don’t record into a computer.. I prefer to have the ability to have full control over each of the audio levels as they are being recorded. Also, I tend to bring in audio clips into the recording from time to time. 🙂

  • Cliff, thanks for your great information. I am doing a reset of my phone call setup for the new year. Since 2009, I have recorded my phone interviews using a combo of Free Conference Call and studio mic and later mixing the two down to make a complete episode. This takes too long to edit and is slowing me down A LOT. I have reconfigured my setup using your diagrams, and I am almost there (using Broacast Host, and I am going to purchase the MDX-4600 ASAP) SOOO…

    Regarding the mix-minus for callers: I can’t seem to eliminate my voice bleeding into the callers line without the caller losing the ability to hear my side of the conversation. Is this as good as it gets, or does the gate help that at all?

  • Dean, unfortunately, due to other commitments that I have, I am not able to spend the amount of time to adequately anwer your question in detail.

    I’ll quickly tell you today, the most effective way to record phone calls is to use Skype out to telephone. Skype is better today than its ever been. It works pretty well if you, yourself, have a good connection to the internet.

    With a Skype Mix-minus there is almost no bleedover as there is with telephoen interface devices.

    I hope this helps.

  • Okay. Thank you, Cliff, for your time.

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