For several years, I have been using (and recommending) Cleanfeed (and Cleanfeed Pro) to make pristine remote audio recordings at 48 kHz. However, since Zoom.us recently added a rather hidden 48 kHz audio setting (up from an unbelievably low 32 kHz sampling frequency as standard, and still the default with Zoom.us), some people have started to ask me whether they should now consider using Zoom.us instead of Cleanfeed (Pro). Ahead I’ll explain all of the reasons why we should still continue using Cleanfeed (Pro) for all of our remote audio-only needs over Zoom.us, be it for a live broadcast or a pre-recorded show, regardless of the final distribution for traditional on-air radio, satellite radio, Internet radio or podcast… or even separate audio for a video show handled via a separate connection.
Although as of September 2020, Zoom.us now offers a fairly hidden option for 48 kHz audio (which can indeed be much better than audio is sampled at only 32 kHz), at publication time of this article, Zoom.us makes this available only for macOS and Windows (not yet for Android, ChromeOS, iOS, iPadOS or Linux). Sadly, this new 48 kHz option from Zoom.us is not available as speech-optimized. In fact, Zoom.us specifically states that this option is focused on “music education and performance applications”. In fact, even though not specifically stated on the website, when activating this mode in the macOS app, a warning states that using Ethernet is an absolute must, and not to use wifi due to its latency. (Sadly, I proved that Zoom.us is not exaggerating with that warning.)
On the other hand, with Cleanfeed (and Cleanfeed Pro) the default is thankfully for speech-optimized 48 kHz. Although I am the first to recommend a wired Ethernet connection whenever it’s available, using Cleanfeed’s speech optimized mode does not require a wired Ethernet connection. I know this not only because of Cleanfeed’s own documentation, but also because I have carried out several successful remote interviews using Cleanfeed’s speech-optimized 48 kHz option from hotel rooms which don’t offer Ethernet. With Zoom.us, without Ethernet, there is no current possibility of 48 kHz audio sampling. With Cleanfeed, Ethernet is not a requirement when using the speech-optimized 48 kHz setting, which is the default.
Another Cleanfeed advantage over Zoom.us is that after the Cleandfeed connection is established between the “studio” (the place where the Cleanfeed call is initiated), that connection is nearly always peer-to-peer and does not depend upon Cleanfeed.net’s server to allow for continuous reliable operation during a broadcast. On the other hand, I know that Zoom.us indeed requires a central server to function, so it is potentially less reliable: another potential point of failure. According to Cleanfeed’s developers:
“In a tiny minority of cases we relay packets for a call (eg. a corporate network with web proxy access only), but it’s still end-to-end encrypted in these cases.”
They added that even with its default speech-optimized setting:
“Cleanfeed is high-quality audio from the moment you connect. Users don’t have to change any settings to get from low-quality audio to high-quality audio. This is true for guests as well, no changing of settings to achieve high-quality audio.”
Unique features of Cleanfeed Pro
- Advanced invitations
- Carts (to play back pre-recorded sounds during an interview or show)
- Echo cancellation (for those few guests who don’t have headphones)
- Higher bitrates (for music)
- Multiple local sources, which can be recorded on separate local tracks (for more control in post-production, when appropriate)
- Multitrack recording of multiple remote guests (for more control in post-production, when appropriate)
For more information, visit Cleanfeed.net.
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