Zencastr: The almost-great podcast app

by Sean Boyce

With over 32% of Americans listening to podcasts on a regular monthly basis, it’s clear that podcasting is here to stay. But while there are many options available for podcast production, most are cumbersome, hard to use, and the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Since there are so many options out there, there’s a small window of opportunity to hook in a new listener to subscribe. Poor sound quality can be a podcast killer, causing listeners to leave in frustration never to return.

Enter Zencastr, a web-based podcast recording tool that aims to deliver high quality sound plus an enhanced user-friendly experience.  

Zencastr is a really simple concept that negates the need for the installation of special software. A podcast producer simply logs into the web app and creates a unique link for a show. The link can then be shared so that guests can join. Zencastr then records local audio from each person and uploads it to Zencastr’s servers. The host can download individual tracks to Dropbox or Google Drive to splice together, or the software can create a final mix from all the tracks. This gives the producer optimum control over when and what is recorded. The app allows creation of new episodes, the ability to save guest recordings for later editing, and offers advanced services as upsells. Your podcasts can also be archived.

The company offers Zencastr at three price levels. Their freemium version that they call “Hobbyist” includes up to 8 hours of high-quality MP3 recording and no more than two guests. That’s a lot of recording time for free! They do charge a small extra fee for post-production services. Their $20 per month plan includes unlimited guests and recordings plus 10 hours automatic post-production services. This comes with a 14-day free trial.

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In our test of the free version of Zencastr we were frustrated with some of the technical aspects not working, plus randomly dropped guests. While the product does provide excellent recording quality, in general, the major limitation is that there are no hosting or publishing tools included. 

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