Zoom will now keep your individual recording tracks in sync, a boon to podcasters

Zoom has rolled out an updated set of recording tools that podcasters like myself should be overjoyed to see. When you record you and your guests in Zoom on individual tracks, each panelist’s audio track will now stay perfectly in sync for the duration of the recording.

Zoom has had a ‘record each participant on a separate track’ feature for years, which has been a great help for podcasters looking to record guests and panelists, but there’s been one big issue with it: The less a panelist spoke, the more out of sync that person’s track became as the recording progressed. So, you’d have to keep shifting audio tracks in your editing timeline to keep them sync’d up. It would frequently become difficult to re-align, especially if that guest who is falling out of sync was only giving a laugh or a ‘yeah’ here and there. “What was this in response to?!” you’d have to ask yourself.

The sync issues are no more with a Zoom update that was released on September 22nd, 2021. I initially noticed the change when looking at my latest recording files: Each panelist’s audio file was the exact same file size and length. I wondered: Could it be? Is Zoom finally offering files that truly stay in sync? Yes, as confirmed by their release notes:

  • Aligned separate audio tracks for local recordings – Windows, macOS, LinuxWhen recording separate audio tracks for a local recording, the audio tracks will be aligned, in that each track is in sync with each other and start at the same. Recording tracks will increase in size slightly, as extra padding will be added to each file to ensure tracks all begin at the same time.

So long as you have the individual recording tracks setting turned on (Zoom > Preferences > Recording > ‘Record a separate audio file of each participant’) and you hit the ‘Record’ button in your meeting, Zoom will now output audio files that stay perfectly in sync with one another. The files will be generated upon ending the meeting.

I recently recorded a 2 hour live podcast event, and even the people who joined a hour or later into the recording had audio tracks that aligned perfectly. There was blank air at the beginning of their files, until they joined the call. Even after they joined and didn’t speak too often, their file stayed in sync.

See below how the file sizes are exactly the same (This would not be the case prior to this Zoom update):

And see how the tracks are all the same length when loaded into an editor like Adobe Audition. Again, this is not how they would look prior to the latest update:

I’m going through this recording and can confirm everyone remains sync’d up throughout. As a podcaster who uses Zoom to record guests, I could not be happier about this news. It’s going to save myself and so many others a lot of trouble when editing using individual audio tracks.

While this feature is very nice, Zoom shouldn’t be used to record the primary hosts of a podcast. I highly recommend that the hosts record themselves locally, using a tool like Audio Hijack or another voice recorder on their computer. It’s going to be higher quality than what you get from Zoom, because Zoom is recording each person’s voice after it’s been processed for noise reduction and reaches the cloud. You will get much higher sound quality when recording on your own computer in a separate app. The Zoom feature I’m describing in this blog post should be used for A) one-time guests, and B) as a backup for all panelists, in case anyone’s local recordings becomes lost or damaged.