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Riverside.fm as Zencastr Alternative: Which One is Best?

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Riverside.fm as Zencastr Alternative: Which One is Best?

Recording a remote podcast can be a challenging task. Poor audio quality, background noises, or choppy audio can leave audiences frustrated, but extensive setup and training time can discourage your guests. You might spend several months trying to set up a video interview with a high-profile guest just to lose out on that episode due to a poor connection or unusable audio on their end. 

To stand out from the competition, you need remote podcast recording software that’s easy to use and records in high quality — no matter your internet connection. That’s where quality podcast software brands like Riverside.fm, and Zencastr come in. 

If you’re deciding between the two, read on for an in-depth look at each platform.

An Introduction to Riverside.fm and Zencastr

First, let’s look at what the two platforms have in common. Both Zencastr and Riverside.fm are web-based recording platforms that focus on studio-quality audio and an easy user experience. 

Engineer Josh Nielsen founded Zencastr in November 2016. It has since grown exponentially, with high-profile podcast creators using the platform. This includes John Lee Dumas at Entrepreneur On Fire and Victor Marks at the Apple Insider Podcast.

Riverside.fm, founded in 2020 by Nadav and Gideon Keyson, lets you locally record high-quality separate tracks for both audio and video within your browser. Our platform’s mission is to integrate video and live remote features into the podcast recording experience, making it easy to diversify your podcast into video marketing and social media live streaming. 

Since our launch, Riverside.fm has already landed several high-profile clients such as Spotify, The New York Times, TED, and Microsoft. Big influential figures include Hillary Clinton, Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Raz and Jay Shetty. Although, Riverside is not only for the professionals. Its tools are easy-to-use and accessible to beginners and podcasters of all levels.

Both Riverside.fm and Zencastr boast notable features, including:

  • Live sound and video monitoring: Both platforms let you monitor your guests and your microphone and camera. You can adjust levels as you record and even mute guests if need be.
  • Separate tracks recorded locally: Each participant has their audio and video track, making the podcast easy to edit and mix in post-production. Since the tracks are recorded locally and not over an internet connection, any glitches or drops in reception won’t affect the quality or interrupt the audio. 
  • Live editing soundboards: Both Riverside.fm and Zencastr can add pre-recorded audio tracks. Riverside’s media board lets you import both audio and video clips. However, the Zencastr soundboard only lets you import ten audio tracks. 
  • Automatic post-production: You can automatically mix your separate files after recording and fine-tune and enhance your audio. Both Riverside.fm and Zencastr are also equipped with editing tools to adjust the layout of your guests and speakers in your videos.
  • Secure cloud backup: Tracks are uploaded automatically to the cloud, and files upload as you record. This means you don’t need to wait long for an upload before closing your browser tab.
  • Simple guest interface: Guests can join with a single click, meaning no extensive training or onboarding process. 
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) service: Voice and text chat are all available within the platforms themselves — so no other platforms like Zoom or Skype are necessary.
  • Automatic transcriptions: You can automatically transcribe your recordings into text which is great for repurposing your content or increasing your searchability.

Unique Features of Riverside.fm   

The main advantages of Riverside.fm are the platform’s reliability and that it provides the podcast host with high-quality locally recorded, separate audio and video tracks — all recorded from the browser

Since the tracks are recorded locally on the host and guests’ computers, there’s no need for the hosts or guests to install or download anything. The video is up to 4k video resolution, and the audio is uncompressed and delivered in 48 kHz WAV format. When comparing Riverside.fm vs Zencastr, this is a much higher resolution as Zencastr only records up to 1080p HD. It’s worth mentioning that Zencastr’s video recording option is in beta. So, Riverside.fm is the winner when it comes to reliability.

Riverside.fm also comes with several other impressive features, such as:

  • Shareable Clips: Riverside.fm’s newest feature, Clips, is a big game-changer for anyone creating video podcasts or other video content. Within a few clicks, you can choose powerful key moments and turn them into short, shareable clips to post all over social media. All the big podcasters like Gary Vaynerchuk and Joe Rogan already do this to promote their content. Now you can, too without the need of any production team.
  • Mobile app: Riverside.fm has an iPhone app which lets you host a recording wherever you are. Guests can also join through this iOS app and also through Riverside’s Android app. In this way, you can truly podcast anywhere at any time. 
  • Producer mode: Have your producers join, monitor, and communicate with the host and guests during the session without being recorded. Manually set the desired frame rate and maximum resolution for each recording. The host can also monitor and adjust audio levels during the live recording, including keeping tabs on guests’ cameras and microphones.
  • Up to 7 co-hosts/guests per recording. You can invite up to 7 co-hosts or guests to join you. Hosts control who joins each session and other recording settings.
  • Screensharing: Hosts and guests can share and record their screens in full HD.
  • Option to live stream both on Riverside.fm and to external platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Twitter.
  • Live call-in: Listeners/viewers can call in with video to ask the host questions during the live recording.
  • Custom branding: Impress guests with a custom greenroom complete with your podcast’s or company’s logo. 
  • Audio and video media board: While both platforms can add audio tracks live, with Riverside.fm you can also add video tracks. In addition, Riverside’s media board comes with a selection of ready-to-use sound effects to make recording podcasts professionally even easier.
  • No extra cost for post-production: Riverside.fm’s post-production editor is at no additional charge. It comes free to use without limitations on any of Riverside’s pricing plans. The Zencastr post-production, on the other hand, makes you pay per your hours of recording time ​​run through post-production.

How to Record an Episode in Riverside.fm

1. First, log into your account and go to the Riverside.fm dashboard. Select “Create a new (reusable) studio.” Insert the title of your studio and adjust the settings to suit your recording needs.

Creating a new recording studio on Riverside.fm
For best results, use an external mic and headphones. It’s also a good idea to close as many programs as possible to reduce your computer’s load.

2. Enter the green room where you can select the microphone, camera, and output device of choice. The platform will check your connection speed and prompt you to input your name. 

A podcaster entering the Riverside.fm Green Room to chair their microphone and camera before a recording.

3. You’ll be prompted to invite participants either by email or by sending them the direct link.

The Riverside.fm invite link to add guests to your recording.

4. On the recording page, the chat and participants are on the right-hand side, whereas your controls are along the bottom of the screen.  

The host view of a recording session on Riverside.fm with two participants.

5. As the producer/host, you’ll be able to:

  • Accept call-ins
  • View the chat
  • Share your screen
  • Start and end the recording

You can also go into Settings and set up live streams to YouTube, Periscope, Facebook, and Twitch. Click on the icon for each social media platform to input the stream URL and name/key.

Riverside.fm settings for video and audio resolution when recording.

Unique Features of Zencastr

While video recording is only available in beta, Zencastr offers a simple solution to those who want remote podcast recording software with studio-like quality and features right in their web browser. 

The platform offers:

  • Zencastr Video Open Beta: Video recording is now available to all Zencastr users. Although, this is still in its beta stage and may be less reliable. 
  • Available on multiple browsers: Zencastr users can record on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave. 
  • Free option:  Zencastr pricing includes a free option. However, this only gives you limited features. ‍

How to Record an Episode in Zencastr

1. To begin using Zencastr, create an account and open the website. You’ll see an option to create a new episode on your dashboard. 

Zencastr dashboard for creating a new episode.
(Image source: Zencastr dashboard)

2. Type the podcast episode title you’d like to record into the dialogue box and click on ‘Create New Episode.’

Create a new episode prompt on podcast recording platform Zencastr.
(Image source: Zencastr dashboard)

3. The platform will take you to the recording screen. Here, you can start recording with the button in the upper left-hand corner whenever you’re ready. You’ll also see that you can upload audio media for sound effects, intro/outro, and any other prerecorded media in the top bar.

Th start recording button on zencastr
(Image source: Zencastr)

4. Zencastr allows you to invite any guests using the click of a button. They receive an invite in their email and simply click to join; no downloads or waiting rooms are necessary.

Inviting guests on Zencastr
(Image source: Zencastr)

5. Once you’re ready to quit recording, wait for the upload. It’ll tell you when it’s finished uploading, and you can safely close the browser tab.

Pop up to let you know that you have recorded successfully on Zencastr
(Image source: Zencastr)

Pricing Options

Zencastr currently offers two pricing tiers:

  • Hobbyist (free): Unlimited MP3 audio recordings and the ability to trial the Zencastr Beta Video recording with up to 5 guests. This also comes with post-production mixing at an extra cost.
  • Professional ($20/month): Unlimited video and audio recordings with up to 5 guests, a live editing soundboard, 10 hours per month of automatic postproduction time, and audio can be recorded in lossless 16-bit 48kHz WAV format. This also includes automatic transcriptions.

Riverside.fm  pricing plans are divided into four tiers:

  • Free. Studio-quality audio and video recording, with up to 2 hours per month of separate tracks.
  • Standard ($15/month). Up to 5 hours per month of studio-quality audio and video separate tracks for each participant.
  • Pro ($24/month). Up to 15 hours per month of studio-quality audio and video separate tracks. This is the most popular plan for our subscribers.
  • Enterprise (price upon request): This custom-built service is for media companies like current Riverside.fm clients Spotify and Marvel, who need a professional solution with shared production workspaces, custom branding, and much more. It includes all the Pro features and customer success support, and onboarding training.

Final Thoughts  

No matter if it’s Riverside.fm vs Zencastr or Squadcast vs Riverside.fm, for podcasters looking to level up their game, the natural next step is to invest in high-quality podcast recording software. If you’re looking to start a podcast, or are already in the field, producing studio-level audio and video can help you stand out from the vast competition in the podcasting world.

Whether you choose to be a Riverside.fm podcaster or a Zencastr podcaster, both are solid options. To briefly recap, here are the main takeaways for each platform:

Riverside.fm Pros

  • Platform reliability
  • Top-quality video and audio recording
  • Shareable promotional clips in minutes
  • Mobile capabilities: iOS and Android app
  • Livestreaming capabilities
  • Accept live call-ins

Riverside.fm Cons

  • Currently only works in Chrome 

Zencastr Pros

  • Free subscription tier available
  • Works in various browsers

Zencastr Cons

  • Video recording is currently only available in beta, and no 4k video resolution
  • No live streaming or live call-in functionality
  • No Zencastr iOS or Android app
If you’re looking for software that integrates audio and video as part of its primary function, Riverside.fm is probably your best bet. But if you’re primarily interested in a free audio unlimited recording solution, Zencastr might fill your needs and budget better. In the end, it all comes down to your individual goals, budget, and the capabilities you need out of your podcast recording software.


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