How to: Record Google Hangout in High Quality

I'm working on a super-secret project right now (more to come this summer...bear with me) which will require me to record interviews via Google Hangout. Now, I know I've written before about how to screencast on a Chromebook using Google+, but the quality of those recordings, in particular the audio, can leave something to be desired. So, I went looking for an alternative.

I fell down the rabbit trail of apps that do this and that, but none of them really did what I needed. I knew I wanted to use Audacity to record and edit, but I couldn't find an easy way to record both my microphone as well as the system audio for the people I'm speaking with.

Luckily, I'm currently going through ds106 with some radio geniuses who where able to help. I can't go any further without giving ScottLo a MAJOR shout out for helping me work this out. Rather than type the entire process out, I've got a video showing how I set everything up to record the Google Hangout. Beneath that, you can see the tools (with links) and their settings written out.

The Video

Proof of concept mp3

The Setup - Links below take you to downloads if you don't have the software yet.

System Audio

LadioCast

  • Input 1 - Soundflower (2ch)
  • Input 2 - Your microphone
  • Main output - Soundflower (64ch)
  • Aux output - Built in output/headphones (for monitoring)

Audacity

  • Input - Soundflower (64ch)

Google Hangout - This works the same for Skype.

    • Input - microphone/built in mic
    • Output - Soundflower (2ch)

Again, if you need help setting this up, send me a tweet (@bennettscience) and I'm happy to help.

32 thoughts on “How to: Record Google Hangout in High Quality

  1. scottlo says:

    Nice work, Brian. I don’t know if SoundFlower has changed it naming scheme but I remember it being Soundflower 16 and Soundflower 2 (but I guess the 16 actually has 64 channels or is it 32?).

    Anyhow, your questions and post have caused me to revisit this issue. As I recall, the main frustration for me with this setup was that I was never have audio from my computer piped into the Hangout while simultaneously pulling audio out to either stream or record. It was an either or.

    Even when I’d do SF16 as input and SF2 as output in Hangout, the Hangout settings would reject this and set them both to SF2.

    With Skype, on the other hand, there is no problem with pumping audio into the call so the listener can hear the same music that is going out over the ds106radio.

    The only way I can think my way past this would be to use a mixer and have audio routed on LadioCast’s third AUX bus to the headphones or iMac which in turn passes it into the mixer so it gets brought in through the mic input on Hangout. Now I’m getting confused. Feel free to delete this comment if it is too convoluted.

    Bottom line, your interest in this issues has re-sparked my now. Now I need to figure out how to play audio (besides the mic) into a Hangout while also pulling the audio out from the hangout. If you have any thoughts or can figure this out, please let me know.

    • I didn’t test audio into the hangout, but it’s a good thought. Most of my recording will be done sans music, but it would be great to pipe it all. I wonder if you change the input setting for Google Hangouts to the Main out of LadioCast if it would work that way…I’ll have to test it at some point and update the post if I get it to work.

      • Alan Levine says:

        Actually, I am glad to see Hangouts lets us use Soundflower, last time a tried (a few months ago), it rejected the settings, but works now.

        I think an issue may be the choice of soundflower channels- the different between SF 2 and SF 64 is the number of sources it can mix. My suggested setup, which is what I do with Skype is:

        System Audio
        Set to Soundflower (64ch)

        LadioCast
        Input 1 – Soundflower (64ch)
        Input 2 – Your microphone

        Main output – Soundflower (2ch)

        Aux output – Built in output/headphones (for monitoring)

        Audacity (if you are recording)
        Input – Soundflower (2ch)

        In Hangouts
        Input- Sounfflower (2ch) people will hear everything going out (or just the mic if you are not mixing in music)
        Output: Soundflower (64ch)

        The only odd thing I am seeing is that Google Hangouts (or is it Chrome) is outputting sound to only the right audio channell

        • I’ve actually been recording fine by setting:

          System Sound settings to output to Soundflower 2ch

          LadioCast to mix that with my mic into Soundflower 64ch as the main out.

          In Audacity, I set my input to Soundflower 64.

          I don’t even mess with the Hangout settings, because they default to the System Sound settings.

          • Alan Levine says:

            Well recording is fine that way since you dont need to funnel audio back to Hangouts. If you are live streaming (sending output our from Ladiocast) my configs will work (did it last night)

  2. Charles Charest says:

    Great tutorial! I have one question. What about PC users? I have had a good deal of trouble trying to find something that does the same function, without buying an audio suite.

  3. […] lately, and this is stemming from some of the experimenting I did yesterday, when I posted how to record a Google+ Hangout with higher quality audio for podcasting or other interview-type things (great language, I […]

  4. […] Christina Hendricks “Midnight Sun” Bumper Brian Bennett’s tutorial for recording Google’ Hangouts in high quality and his Once you’re in… Brian Short’s “The Moonglow Gave me You” […]

  5. ds106zone LoDown (by Jim Groom) » scottlo radio blog says:

    […] Christina Hendricks “Midnight Sun” Bumper Brian Bennett’s tutorial for recording Google’ Hangouts in high quality and his Once you’re in… Brian Short’s “The Moonglow Gave me You” […]

  6. Learn about “temporary social media” and how can it change your online life | FAVES + CO. says:

    […] you share publicly on social networks is being archived, recorded and, potentially, monitored. If you are 13-years-old today, you may never know a life without the […]

  7. Justin Falls says:

    Great! Screenflow is also an excellent app for screen recording anything!

    • I’ve been a TechSmith customer for a long time (and now an employee) so I’m partial to Camtasia for recording the videos :-) I haven’t used ScreenFlow in a long time. Does it allow you to record the system audio easily?

      I chose Audacity for this particular post because I knew I would be working exclusively with audio for the final product.

  8. Bugra says:

    Great work. You saved me a lot of time. Thanks for the effort.

  9. Jason Patrick says:

    You saved me so much trouble. Thanks so much for posting this. Can’t wait to start podcasting over Google Hangouts.

    • Glad it was helpful! It took me a while to get all the buttons figured out, but I use this setup nearly every week to conduct interviews for my podcast as well. I don’t like doing videocasts because I don’t think the video adds a whole lot to interviews. So, I grab the audio and have more flexibility in the storytelling.

      If you want to give it a listen, you can find the show here: http://www.edreach.us/channel/techsmith

  10. Mark Thistle says:

    Thanks Brain. This was great. I quickly got up and running with my first podcast using Google hangout with this.

  11. Mike Malone says:

    Brian, I was doing interviews for my dissertation research using Skype and Skype Recorder, but I had one participant where Skype just wasn’t working well. He wanted to use Google Hangouts, so I had to find a way to record the interview. You saved me a ton of trial and error!

  12. Dolly Townsend says:

    Do you have a video available to show how to set it up properly and use it?

  13. Chris says:

    do you get any benefit to this rather than just downloading the mp4 and isolating the audio from the recording of the google hangout on air?

    • At the time, I wasn’t able to download the mp4 (and it can still be tricky to do so). This drops the audio straight into Audacity for me, so I don’t have to worry about downloads, imports, or audio isolation. This will also allow you to record your input sources (your mic and interview audio) into left and right stereo tracks for easier editing. Just make sure to export the mp3 to mono and mix them in that process so you don’t get weird back and forth in the produced version.

      Lastly, mp4 is a lossy format (you lose quality). Recording straight into Audacity as a WAV keeps the highest quality for editing. I didn’t want compression in my stock audio, which is why I went through the trouble of getting this method worked out.

  14. Pamela Moss says:

    Hey Brian, this is awesome and I got it all to work!! Thank you for such a great workaround & explanation.

    Now I want to put in another level of complexity: add 2 participants to the Hangout (& recording) who CALL in via a conference line. I can play the conference line through my computer speakers, using Skype calling, so I thought perhaps that could work…

    However when I tested, it didn’t. I could hear all 3 sources (Hangout, my mic & the conference line) but I can only record 2 (my mic & the Hangout). Probably this is because Mac sound input preferences only let me select internal mic OR sunflower (2ch), and it seems I’d need to have both to be able to record all 3…. am I wrong? Do you have a solution?

    • This came up from someone on twitter the other day, but I haven’t had time to dig in. I’m on the road this week, so I won’t be able to look closely until next week. If I find something, I’ll update the post.

  15. Orlando Del Aguila says:

    Thanks! it works!

  16. […] Nativement, Audacity ne peut pas faire deux sources ne même temps sauf si vous avez une carte audio professionnelle. Si je ne me trompe pas, vous cherchez à accomplir ceci : http://www.brianbennett.org/blog/how-to-record-google-hangout-in-high-quality/ […]

  17. Sarah says:

    I’m being unable to download LadioCast, as it seems to not be available in the Mac App Store. Do you know anything about this? Or have a recommendation for alternative software?

  18. […] lately, and this is stemming from some of the experimenting I did yesterday, when I posted how to record a Google+ Hangout with higher quality audio for podcasting or other interview-type things (great language, I […]

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