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

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 podcasting 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 take a 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. 

Zencastr was founded by engineer Josh Nielsen in November 2016 and has since grown exponentially, with high-profile podcast creators (such as John Lee Dumas at Entrepreneur On Fire and Victor Marks at the Apple Insider Podcast) using the platform.

Riverside.fm, founded in 2020 by Nadav and Gideon Keyson, is currently the only tool on the market that lets you record 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. 

In the few months since our launch, Riverside.fm has already landed several high-profile clients such as Spotify, Disney, and Hillary Clinton. 

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

  • Live sound monitoring: The platform lets you monitor your microphone and adjust levels as you record.
  • Separate tracks recorded locally: Each participant has his or her own audio track, making the podcast easy to edit and mix later. Also, 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. 
  • Automatic cloud storage: Tracks are uploaded automatically to Google Drive or Dropbox with redundant backups — and the files upload as you record, meaning you don’t need to wait for an upload before you close your browser tab.
  • Simple guest interface: Guests can join with a single click, meaning there’s no extensive training or onboarding process. 
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) service: Voice and text chat all available within the platform itself — so no other platforms like Zoom or Skype are necessary.

Unique Features of Riverside.fm   

The main advantages of Riverside.fm are the platform’s reliability and that it provides the podcast host with 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 resolution and the audio is uncompressed and delivered in WAV format. 

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

  • 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.
  • Private messaging: Send a chat message to a co-host instead of all participants
  • Up to 8 co-hosts/guests per recording. The host controls who join each session (and when they leave).
  • Screensharing: Hosts and guests can share their screens.
  • Option to live stream both from Riverside.fm and to external platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Twitter
  • Live call-in: Listeners/viewers can call in with video to ask their question to the host/guest during the live recording
  • Custom branding: Impress guests with a custom greenroom complete with your podcast’s or company’s logo 

How to Record an Episode in Riverside.fm

1. First, log into your account. Select “New podcast.” Insert the title of the episode, and decide whether to enable live call-ins. You also have the option to toggle off the separate HD video and audio recordings.

For best results, use an external mic and headphones, and 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. 

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

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

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

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

You can also go into the 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.


Unique Features of Zencastr

While it doesn’t yet offer video recording for its mainstream users, Zencastr offers a simple solution to those who want reliable, remote podcast recording software with studio-like quality and features right in their web browser. 

The platform offers:

  • Live editing soundboard: Easily insert audio clips, intros, outros, and advertisements directly from the recording screen in real-time.
  • Automatic postproduction: The separate tracks are automatically mixed into an individual file after your recording session.
  • A signaling system to show which guest/host is speaking: If you have more than two participants, it can be helpful to click the hand symbol next to each user’s name to show it’s their turn to speak (and avoid an audio jumble).
  • Beta edition is available to selected users: If you join the waitlist for the beta rollout, you’ll be able to record a remote video interview. However, this function is still very new and relatively untested.

How to Record an Episode in Zencastr

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

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

3. The platform will take you to the recording screen, where 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.

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

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.

Pricing Options

Zencastr currently offers two pricing tiers:

  • Hobbyist (free): Up to eight hours per month of recording time, with up to two guests per episode. All recordings are made in MP3 format with pay-per-use automatic postproductions.
  • Professional ($20/month): Unlimited recordings and guests, a live editing soundboard, 10 hours per month of automatic postproduction time, and all recordings are made in lossless 16-bit 44.1kHz WAV format.

In the future, Zencastr also plans to roll out the Network tier geared for media companies producing multiple podcasts. That membership tier will allow for multiple hosts and podcasts under a single account, plus aggregated analytics.

Riverside.fm offers a free trial, which allows you to record 60 minutes for free. Our paid plans are divided into four tiers:

  • Record 2 hours per month Audio + Video ($7.5/month): Up to 2 hours per month of studio-quality audio and video, including separate tracks for each.
  • Record 5 hours Audio + Video ($15/month): Up to 5 hours per month of studio-quality audio and video, including separate tracks for each.
  • Record 20 hours Audio + Video ($24/month): Up to 20 hours per month of studio-quality audio and video, including separate tracks for each. 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 custom branding and multiple accounts.
All tiers include live streaming to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Final Thoughts  

For podcasters looking to level up their game, the natural next step is to invest in high-quality recording software. Producing studio-level audio and video can help you stand out from the vast competition in the podcasting world.

Whichever you choose, Riverside.fm and Zencastr are both solid options. To briefly recap, here are the main takeaways for each platform:

Riverside.fm Pros

  • Offers both video and audio recording
  • Live streaming capabilities
  • Accept live call-ins

Riverside.fm Cons

  • Currently only works in Chrome


Zencastr Pros

  • Free subscription tier available
  • Live editing soundboard
  • Works in Chrome and Firefox

Zencastr Cons

  • Video recording currently only available in beta
  • No live streaming or live call-in functionality


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 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 recording software.

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