Do you find it a challenge to make good recordings of interviews? Maybe you do interviews for your blog or for freelance articles. Maybe you have a podcast or radio show. Maybe you have an important phone call and you need a record of that call. Whatever reason you’re trying to record that interview–there are many different parts of that process that can break down. A new app named RINGR wants to make it easier for you. in this interview with Tim Sinclair, the CEO of RINGR, find out why any author promoting a book may find that this is the app they’ve been waiting for.
Q&A: TIM SINCLAIR OF RECOrDING APP RINGR
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And that got me to thinking, well, man, if we could figure out a way to get his phone to record while he and I talked–and then if we could get my phone to record while he and I talked, and then we could put the audio together later–maybe that would be a solution here.
Authors have many uses for audio recordings: interviews to be transcribed or posted on a blog or website, promotional materials to send to media outlets, or even having a reliable record of a conversation dealing with publishers, subcontractors, or graphic and layout artists. Until now, a recorded phone call over Skype or another online service is the best you could do. Not anymore. Now, there’s RINGR.
In this episode of DIY Author, Chris chats with Tim Sinclair, CEO of RINGR, a new startup company that is forever changing the way audio is recorded over long distances. At present, RINGR is a smartphone app for iOS or Android that can record a conversation in a new way – making a recording on each side of the conversation, uploading them to the cloud, and merging them seamlessly so that the excellent quality of each side is preserved. Find out more by listening to this great conversation.
Until September 2015, the RINGR app and all of its functions are 100% free. Users will be able to test out all the features and give feedback to the development team at Ringr so that improvements to the app can be made before it transitions to a revenue model. But even then, those who sign up to use the app during the development stage will receive a significant discount on their first year service with the Ringr app, so don’t delay if you want to have the ability to make great recordings.
In this episode Tim shares the motivations that got him started developing the RINGR app and tells about the hurdles he’s had to overcome in getting the product finished and ready for users. His goal is simple: perfect recorded conversations for anyone, anywhere in the world. You’ll enjoy hearing his story.
If you’ve ever agonized over the painfully poor quality of recorded phone conversations, your suffering is over. RINGR makes all of that a thing of the past. So whether you podcast, use recordings for transcription work, or do author interviews and contract negotiations over the phone, you need to check out RINGR.
All this and more on this episode of DIY Author!
WHAT YOU’LL HEAR IN THIS EPISODE
- This is what it sounds like to speak long distance using the RINGR app
- Why would an author need to have good quality recordings of a long distance conversation?
- How the technology works and why it’s so much better than a traditional recording
- How Tim came up with the idea for the app
- Future plans for RINGR and how the average person or author can use it
- How test users have given feedback to make the app better
- The simple sign-up process
- Tips for getting the most out of using RINGR
- Future possibilities for the uses of RINGR, including conference calling and video
- The “disconnect” process of the RINGR app – easy as can be!
RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Your FREE “Promo Rocket Author Media Campaign Blueprint”
TRANSCRIPT FOR DIY AUTHOR EPISODE 26
Tim Sinclair: Hey, Chris, how are ya?
Chris Well: Hi, Tim! I’m good; how are you?
Tim Sinclair: Fantastic! It worked!
Chris Well: Great! Before I forget how to explain this: You are on your phone, and I’m on my phone, but we are actually talking through an app. We are not on a telephone call.
Tim Sinclair: Correct. It is a voice over IP connection, much like Skype or FaceTime, but it’s the RINGR voiceover IP. It allows us to talk and then record on each of our devices separately.
Chris Well: Which is why it’s– the recording will not sound like–it will not sound like we’re on the phone.
Tim Sinclair: Correct. Or even a Skype call, where you get the sound like a robot periodically and you get drop-outs, and all that kind of stuff.
Chris Well: Right.
Tim Sinclair: Each device is recording what’s actually happening rather than what’s being transmitted.
Chris Well: This audience who’ll be listening to this interview, most of them are not podcasters. They are authors. However, of course, many of them should consider a podcast, but I think, to many of them, this is great for any kind of reason to do an interview over the phone.
Tim Sinclair: Absolutely. You know, I was, I’m an author and you know, any good author wants to get interviewed by podcasters and broadcasters as much as possible to share their work with various audiences and this is hopefully a great way that these authors could connect even more often and with better quality with the people they’re looking to talk to.
Chris Well: But I’m thinking even further than that. Like I, my–your background is radio and we’ll talk about that in a second, but–like my background is print and so over the years, I’ve interviewed many, many guests or interview subjects, and then I had to transcribe a very terrible recording.
Tim Sinclair: Right.
Chris Well: And so even, it strikes me that if, even if I’m not planning to use this audio, if I need a recording to transcribe or if I don’t want to do a podcast because I don’t want to deal with all that stuff, just if an author wants to build a platform, one of the best ways to build a platform is to interview experts in your space and post those interviews somewhere, and even if it’s just I’m just putting them on my blog, it seems like RINGR is the easiest, smartest, best, most perfect way to simplify that.
Tim Sinclair: I couldn’t have said it better myself. I–we, of course, agree, and the idea for me is just to try to create a way to connect with people, archive that conversation for whatever you want to do with it later–but have it be 21st century kind of quality. It’s just amazing to me that the phone quality and even recorded Skype calls and things like that have been as far as we’ve been able to go with this. So we’re trying to take it to the next step!
Chris Well: You have a background in radio. How did that lead you to coming up with the idea for RINGR?
Tim Sinclair: I spent 18 years in radio, did literally thousands of interviews that sounded awful. You know, one side sounds good–the host sounds good, they’re in the studio–and the interviewee sounds like they’re in a tin can or on the moon or, you know, whatever. It’s just sort of that same sort of “phone” quality that we’re accustomed to hearing, but still frustrated with. You have to turn the radio up or off when those come on because it’s just ridiculous to hear and…
One day a couple of years ago, I wanted to an interview that I was going to play a number of different times on my show with a friend of mine who is an artist that we also played on the radio station. And so I sent him an email and just said, “Hey, Dave, would you answer these questions, but open up voice memos on your phone and record the answers in there and then email me the file?” I figure that had to help a little bit. And he sent me the file, and it sounded unbelievably good! And that got me to thinking, well, man, if we could figure out a way to get his phone to record while he and I talked…
And then, well, what if we could get my phone to record while he and I talked and then we could put the audio together later, maybe that would be a solution here. And so, that was really the impetus for the idea and then it was a matter of finding some incredibly skilled developers and audio experts who could actually help get the phones to do what I believed that they could do.
Chris Well: RINGR’s still in beta, so you, I mean this is brand new. You have just launched.
Tim Sinclair: Yeah, we launched the iOS in mid-January and launched Android the first week of May, and we’ve got a desktop plugin that we’re working on for mid-summer, and we’re hoping that we can move out of beta into the real deal by September 1st.
Chris Well: And at that point, there will be like a payment option.
Tim Sinclair: Right. There will be, you’ll be able to do unlimited calls for free, but it will be at a fairly low quality and you’ll only get a mono file back. So these are just for the people who want to use it recreationally, or you want to record a call with your daughter who just went to college, or a loved one who’s in the military, or something like that.
For the professional users, there will be a monthly fee. It will be less than $20 a month. But you can record unlimited numbers of interviews with whoever you want: they don’t have to have an account; they don’t have to pay. And you’re going to get all the bells and whistles, the best quality, and I think it’ll be well worth it for those who are going to use it even semi-frequently.
Chris Well: And I’m just–Ah! I’m so amazed at how simple this is! Just to tell the listener, in case he or she hasn’t figured out what a big deal this is: my previous interview that I recorded for this podcast, the DIY Author Podcast, I needed a laptop, I had a mixing board–like a $600 mixing board–set up, I have a mic, I have a lot of cables, and sometimes it comes down to system noise, and so it’s like, I tried three different mics before I got the system noise figured out… That’s just a lot of steps on my side.
And then we went through Skype and so I was at the mercy of the connection, and then the person on the other side, I’m at the mercy of what they understand about the equipment–what kind of computer they have, what kind of mic they have, what kind of… all of that. RINGR takes all of those hurdles out! Right?
Tim Sinclair: Yeah, I mean, even with Skype on the other end, you have to have, your interviewee has to have an account and they have to sign up and you have to friend each other and all those kinds of things, whereas this you literally as the interviewer, you send an email from the Ringr app to whoever you want to talk to. If they already have the app on their phone, they literally touch one thing in the email and they’re connected.
If they don’t, they touch two things: the first thing, it takes you to the App Store, which downloads the app for free, and then you touch the code in the email again and it opens up and you’re going! There are really no hurdles other than that. We’ve tried to make the barrier of entry–especially on the interviewee side–very, very low. But even for the interviewer, you know, you described all the studio and the equipment and the computers and the microphones and cables… Literally, you could do this from a Starbucks with your phone and have it sound great.
Chris Well: Prepping for this interview, I was listening to one of your, I think it was your presentation you did where you were talking about somebody like ESPN spends millions of dollars setting up a studio. They call a guy on a phone, and it’s a terrible recording because the guy with the phone doesn’t have a studio on his end.
Tim Sinclair: Right. I mean, I was doing a presentation just the other day and in the middle of the presentation my mom texts me and she says, “I’m watching Fox News about the train accident and they really need RINGR because they’re talking to all sorts of people there and I can’t understand a word they’re saying.” Because they don’t have facilities on the ground at places like this to be able to get reasonable audio and so they call on the phone, they record it and play it back because that’s the only thing they can do. And for us, we just go, “Hey, why don’t you connect on RINGR, record it, and play it back” and it sounds like you’re standing right there talking to them.
Chris Well: Yeah, it’s amazing. This interview will go live in June 2015. You’re in iOS; there’s a limited roll-out to Android; and you’re still in the process of rolling out to, I guess, more versions of Android?
Tim Sinclair: Yes, I mean we’ve got 4.4 through 5.0 out now, and then we will get 5.1 and then the early 4-point-whatever versions out just as soon as we can. There’s a few little glitches here and there; most of them are graphics-oriented, so they’re not even really the control of the audio, but we wanted to make sure they’re right before they’re out, or at least as close to right as possible.
Then we’re going to begin building the ability to plug in high-end external mics to your phone. So if you have a Lightning port mic or whatever, you’d be able to plug that right into your phone and now you sound just like you’re in a studio. You’re not at the mercy of the mic that’s on your earbuds or on your iPhone. Now you’ve got a $100 or $200 professional mic sitting in front of you, if you want. And then no one would have a clue that you were just literally talking into a phone and not sitting in a New York City studio somewhere.
Chris Well: And while you’re in this beta process, you’ve been getting feedback from users, and some of that has led to developments as you continue to roll out new features and changes. What is going on in that process? What are some of the new features? What are some of the features you’re working on?
Tim Sinclair: Yeah, and thankfully a lot of things we’ve been asked for have been in our timeline already: things like those external mics, conference calling–you know, if we can layer two of these, we can layer four, we can layer six, we can layer eight, and so that’s—
Chris Well: Meaning multiple people?
Tim Sinclair: Correct. So, you’d be able to have a group conference call, but sound like you’re all around the same table rather than spread out all over the world. But then there’ve been some other things that really never popped up in my head until we started hearing from people, like a pause button in the middle of your interview, or a mute button, so if you’ve got a cough on your end or, you know, you’re recording at home, for example, and one of your kids comes up to ask you a question, while the interview’s going on, you hit mute, it turns off your mic, they can still talk on their end; then when you’re done, you un-mute it and move on.
So there have been some little things like that that we’ve thought were fantastic suggestions that we will be incorporating soon. Address book functionality, in-app notifications to make it easier to connect, all of those things will be coming over the next few months.
Chris Well: When we talked about iOS and Android, it’s phones, but it’s any device that has the app and has a microphone, right?
Tim Sinclair: Correct. Our goal is really this: we want you to be able to record a conversation with anyone anywhere in the world on any device and have it sound like you’re in the same room at the same time. So that’s smartphones, that’s tablets, and of course, laptops and desktops, as well.
Chris Well: Okay, so how does a person get RINGR and begin using it?
Tim Sinclair: The quick and easy way is to search RINGR on the App Store for your phone, either Google Play or the Apple App Store. It’s a free download and then, for you if you’re the interviewer, to sign up it’s very simple. We ask for your email address, you pick a username and a password, and that’s it. Then you’re in. You have your account, and to get started there’s a plus button, which is just to add a new interview.
When you hit the plus button, you type in the email address of the person you want to talk to, the date and time you want to talk to them, a little message (whatever you want) and send it. And that’s really it. Once they have that in their hands, then all you need to do is connect inside RINGR at the time that you set up and when they do the same thing, you get a little 3-2-1 countdown and then you’re recording.
Chris Well: When we set up this interview right now, we set it up in an email and then we scheduled it inside of the app. So will the app get to a place where we can confirm things, or talk with each other, or is it always we both have to already know what’s going on?
Tim Sinclair: Our goal is to be able to communicate a little bit better within the app and within the email, so you’ll send the email and right now the email is static in that I could not respond directly to the RINGR user who sent me that from the email; but our goal here in the fairly near future is to be able to say “yes,” “no,” or respond with a different suggestion, like “Yep, I’m good to go with that,” “No, I can’t do that,” or “What about this date or time?” Then that would all happen within the app itself based on the email that was sent. So that’s the direction we’re headed. Right now if you both have each other’s email addresses, it’s likely going to be set up in advance that way or over the phone, and then you send the invite once that time’s been locked in and then go from there.
Chris Well: And we can either schedule the interview, or if we just said, “Hey! We should do an interview,” we could have just set it up immediately, right?
Tim Sinclair: Yeah, oh, absolutely. That in fact, I think that’s how a lot of people do it. It’s like, “Oh, hey, let’s talk.” “Okay, send me an invite.” You don’t even put a date or time or a message in it; you just put their email address, send, connect, and you’re rollin’.
Chris Well: So what are some tips for getting the most out of RINGR?
Tim Sinclair: A couple of things. I would say, one, the white earbuds are your friend. And this is for a couple of reasons: when someone records on Skype, for example, they’re generally sitting in front of their desktop or their laptop, using the built-in mic on the computer and a lot of times you’re in a room that’s somewhat echoey and you’re sitting three, four, five feet away from the microphone and so the sound isn’t all that great because of the ambience of the room. With RINGR, whether you’re using your phone as a phone or you’re using it with the white earbuds, you have the ability to have the mic just a few inches from your mouth all the time.
There’s a very consistent distance and all the ambience and all the other things that would be potentially causing–you know, you get echoes, you get other room noise–kind of goes away because that mic is right next to your mouth. So I would say, use the white earbuds with that mic close to your mouth or as a phone and you’re going to sound way better than if you’re sitting a long way away from a tablet. You know, if you’re using RINGR on a tablet and you want to use it sort of like a speaker phone, it’ll work, it just will pick up a lot more room noise than maybe you want. Still not bad, but not ideal, either.
Chris Well: And right when you were talking was a good demonstration of why this is better than using the computer. The garbage truck showed up and so because I’m on a phone with earbuds, I was able to pick up– instead of normally, it would be like, “Oh! I hope that doesn’t show up in the mic!”–it’s like, “Oh! I can pick up my phone and find a different place in the apartment that’s as far away from that garbage truck as possible,” and we continued having our conversation.
Tim Sinclair: And the other nice thing about it is when you get the download files of this, you’ll get one of them will be a stereo file with you in one track and me in another. So you’ll be able to go to your track and edit all of that out and it will not be heard at all because it was only on your side and it wasn’t on my side.
Chris Well: That’s amazing.
Tim Sinclair: Yeah, so that’ll be, in the editing process, you’ll be able to just drag and swipe over the top of that and, most likely, nobody will even know that it was there. I could hear it in our conversation because it was coming through yours, but that wasn’t being recorded on my side.
Chris Well: So, if I hadn’t said anything, nobody would have known.
Tim Sinclair: Yeah! Technically, you could have edited it out and nobody would’ve known. Well, that is a good demonstration of why the technology is superior to some other things we have, you know, is it allows you to do things like that.
Chris Well: Yeah, if we were using something else, we’d be stuck. You’re continuing to roll out updates, new things. What’s the best way for a person to keep track of what’s new with RINGR?
Tim Sinclair: One, if you sign up at RINGR.com you can sign up for our email newsletter, and whenever we have big new launches of features or products, then we’ll shoot you an email. We don’t share it with anybody else, we don’t abuse it, but we’d love to have you on our list, so R-I-N-G-R dot com: you can sign up there. Or if you’re on Twitter, we hope you’ll follow us there and things are a little more frequent on Twitter and that’s just @ringr_us, so @ (the “at” symbol) R-I-N-G-R, underscore, U-S.
Chris Well: Okay, and so, as we mentioned, this is an app. They can go to the App Store at Apple or the App Store on Google Play and just download it and get started.
Tim Sinclair: Correct! And in beta, everything is free all the time. No matter whether you’re the interviewer or interviewee, no matter how many calls you do, you get all the features that we have out. And then starting in September, we’ll begin moving those features that are in the free version and moving to a revenue model.
Chris Well: And now, the, one of the emails that came out recently mentioned that current users are going to get a better deal than people who sign up later, right?
Tim Sinclair: Yeah, that’s correct. So anybody who’s been willing to beta test it for us and has downloaded it and is on our email list before September 1st, we’ll ultimately give a 50% discount for their first year of use of RINGR, so if this is something you’re thinking about using, definitely get it downloaded, try it out, get your account going, so and we’ll send you information in July and August about how you can pay for a year in advance, do it for 50% of the price and save you a bunch of money down the road.
Chris Well: You had mentioned conference calling and at some point in the future adding more people to the process. Is this something that, like I also do webinars, is this something that, will there be a point where RINGR will be something I would use for a webinar? Or is that just too different of a thing?
Tim Sinclair: Well, you know, that’s a great question and it’s something we’re looking at a lot. The technology and the process that we’re using is patent-pending and it’s pending not just for one-to-one audio. This same process will work with video. If you think about it, you can layer perfect video on one end with perfect video on another end and all of a sudden, you got two HD pieces of video next to each other. And it works, as we mentioned earlier, in the conference call environment, both audio and video. So whether we are the ones who end up hosting these things, we will definitely allow conference calling, but there’s also the possibility that we could license the technology to other places that are doing it, as well. So we don’t necessarily have a definitive trajectory on that yet, but we will be, our plan is to offer all of both audio and video on the RINGR platform.
Chris Well: And then as far as when you roll out the payment plan, will there be affiliate opportunities?
Tim Sinclair: Yes, we do plan to have some affiliate opportunities, especially for podcasters who want to be able to share technology with other people who might be interested in podcasting. You can get people from your podcast to sign up; they’ll get a discount; you’ll get a little incentive for doing so. And so, yes, that will be rolling out as we move through the summer, as well, before the paid plans come out.
Chris Well: Anyone wants to get started, RINGR.us or just go download the app from Apple or Google Play.
Tim Sinclair: That will get you started! Yep.