Riverside.fm (Review) - Spoiler... I don't Recommend

TL:DR | I used Riverside for a large amount of my interviews. While for a time it was the best quality recording tool. The lack of fps options, poor support, and constant issues make it not the best anymore.


9 min read
Riverside.fm (Review) - Spoiler... I don't Recommend

Hello, and welcome to the PolyTools Digest Review of - Riverside.fm

This is a tool for recording, streaming, and editing your podcast. All in one!

2024 UPDATE: I no longer use or endorse Riverside. After numerous tech issues, them ghosting me as a "brand partner", and various podcasting colleagues of mine having similar problems. I am updating this post to reflect that, and will use these red callouts to show the update.

One thing to keep in mind for this series is that it is for giving and overview and opinion on various content creating/repurposing tools out there. This tool however is more so in the lines of creation. It just has been so integrated into my tech stack, that I had to do a review on it! It was the first to do high quality and native video recording on all sides, the editor is growing on me more and more, and the team is fantastic at what they do.

The structure is the overview, pricing, pros, cons, and then any particular experience I may have with the tool good or bad. Finally, at the end I’ll wrap up any extra thoughts.

⭐ NOTE: All opinions shared are my own. I aim to keep it fair and just, but my intention is to keep it real and honest.
Riverside.fm - Record Podcasts And Videos From Anywhere
Riverside.fm makes it easy for podcasters and media companies to record remote interviews in studio quality. End result? 4k video and WAV audio content.

Overview

While other tools like Zencastr, Squadcast, and even Streamyard have the capabilities to record high quality audio. They all didn't have the FULLEST quality VIDEO until way after Riverside.fm, and while Streamyard is more of a livestream tool it has grown a lot. The other two were so late to the party, that Riverside grew exponentially because of it.

2024 UPDATE:

I came across it back in 2020, and started using it regularly at the tailend of that year, or perhaps closer to early 2021. Either way out of the 100+ interviews I've done on my show, at least 60% of them have been with Riverside (I did a lot on zoom before).

You start out at the dashboard:

Nice and minimalist, straight to the point with your studios in the middle.

From there you can see the recordings you have made in any particular studio:

Basically each one is a separate recording, even if you do them on the same day. For example when I was talking to Johnny he wanted to share a bonus story, which acted as it's own recording. Which honestly was way more helpful too in the end for making it easy to organize.

There is a lot more going on in the actual screen for each recording:

2024 UPDATE: I really dislike the download options, as they force you into a "consistent frame rate" which is a measly 24fps. And the magic editor takes so long to process a combined file. So sometimes I just download the uncompressed raw videos and combine them myself.

Choosing what file types, and framerates you want to download:

The synced video is a CFR or consistent framerate, but up until recently it was set to 24fps only.

Do note that while 24fps is standard in the film industry, it is not nearly as good as 30fps or 60fps ideally (if your cameras have that option).

The cool thing is that Riverside will record at the HIGHEST quality that your camera and microphone can handle. It is all recorded locally on each person's machine, that way it doesn't get degraded by the compression of cloud based recording like Zoom/Skype/Hangouts.

There is a backup however in the cloud, which is an amazing feature because you never know what might happen to the recordings. I've only had an issue once with a guest's audio being really weird. The support was super helpful, and while there wasn't anything we could do to restore it, the cloud recording happened to be completely fine. With that episode I simply used slightly lower quality audio for my guest's side using that cloud recording.

Move over Resolve and Premiere, the Magic Editor is here!

Chose your aspect ratio.
NOTE: I thought there was an issue with the vertical clips only being full frame like you see. However you can do split view as well. I.e. Johnny on top, and me on the bottom.
2024 UPDATE: Magic clips are just a gimmick, they suck at finding the best clips, and the lengths are all over the place. Use a clips tool that is optimized for finding clips like OpusClip.

or

I love the framing, the background is just an image you can replace, and you can add a logo to the top. Although in my experience the logo doesn't always work right, and that is something you'll have to play around with.

I also wished that you can have people's names at the bottom of their frames. Personal preference.

There is a cool AI speaker layout, where it switches between who is talking.

I haven't played around with that enough, as I prefer a side by side view for my podcast.

Finally then you export:

2024 UPDATE: I said before it "doesn't take that long for me", but I think that is simply because I would just leave the tab open and forget it. But my old gaming pc exports video faster than the servers they use.

Here is how it looks in the recording studio:

My camera was rotated btw.

2024 UPDATE: Okay I'll give them this, it is a pretty nice studio, and after using some other tools like Waveroom, there were features that I missed. However the lack of being able to pause is a huge loss for me in Riverside.

Pricing

I'll be honest here, this is something that will make or break the tool for you. However I've seen the price go down a ton over the last couple years, as the tool has grown.

2024 UPDATE: This is something that I overlooked before, maybe due to bias or rose colored glasses. However other tools like Podcastle are quite cheaper, and they don't limit your FPS and quality nearly as much.

My Experience

Note: That this may be what I had happened, but your mileage may vary.

I joined up early on, and you would think with a beta or early tool experience; That I would've had a lot of tech problems like most tools.

Honestly no. There were a few interviews where the guest's internet connection was so poor that I chose to switch to Zoom for the lower latency. However that was more of a personal choice, and it has gotten better since then too (mainly was in 2021).

Besides that internet delay (that is worse on other platforms a lot too), and the one weird audio file for that particular interview. I've not had issues with the platform, and I think that is worth exclaiming. Anytime I feel like something is off I can easily reach out to support, and they're always helpful.

While I do get access as a creator, this is a tool that is worth the cost to upgrade the quality of your show. I only mention this because of transparency, and it has nothing to do with how I conduct this review. I just simply really like the platform, and I am curious what they are gonna come out with next.

2024 UPDATE: I have so much to add I'm just gonna write it under this callout:

While the quality of the connection generally was fine, like I said in the previous version of this review. I did have to switch over to other tools. That happened over half a dozen times in the time I used this tool.

Quality of the video call would always be pretty shotty, so I defaulted to having the Upload turned OFF for the duration of the call. Something I didn't think was a big deal, and maybe it isn't. However I wanted to mention it.

I had some tech problems that are just crazy, and the responses I got from the support were unacceptable.

  • I had an interview where the project glitched, and both of our recordings got split into two projects, and the sync faltered because of that. Making it really annoying to manually put them together in Resolve.
  • I had a recording a while back that glitched so bad it almost ruined the interview. The talk was an hour long, but the guest's upload stretched to three hours long. Something that was unfixable, and I had to use the poor quality cloud recording for the guest's half.

One of the worst offenses was that I had a guest on who has better internet than me. However after 3 hours her upload was only at 2%. She looked at the help docs, which said to restart the upload. She did, and it proceeded to take 56 HOURS to fully upload.

Now both me and her contacted support about it, and they just gaslit us and sent us the help doc that SHE ALREADY SAID SHE READ.

We even tweeted at them because it was not okay, and it was just ignored.

Speaking of which, something that I feel really salty about is the fact that I tried to be good brand partner. I constantly supported their content, and sent countless feedback on features.

Constantly I was told, okay we'll mark it down, then either nothing would happen, or they would take a couple months to add the fix. However they WOULDN'T TELL ME. There was one in particular, having separate audio tracks. Something I faced countless times, with a guest audio being too low, or mine too high. I had to export the video and audio tracks separately. Not being able to use their magic editor because of this, and use a full fledged editor.

When I told them about it, they rather blew me off, and then a month and half later released the feature without giving me a heads up. Which as a brand partner for any company you usually get told ahead of time. That way you can make content around it.


Weighted Pros/Cons

Not much to say, but this tool does make me excited.

Pros

  • Native recording on both sides for utmost quality.
  • Uses the highest quality your mic and cam can handle.
  • Tons of educational materials on blog and YT.
  • Raw video OR consistent framerate video options.
Magic editor has a lot of features, including transcription and clips.
MEH

Cons

  • Can be costly if you are just starting out (worth it in the end, but it comes out of pocket)
  • Doesn't work in Firefox!! 😤
  • Magic editor doesn't do everything... yet, and so you still may have to use another editing tool to finish if you have a certain need.
  • No pausing feature, so you can't just do a bathroom break if you need to during recording. (I just hold an X up with my arms for me to know to cut it out later)
  • Lack of support
  • Too many bugs that can break your videos/projects

Wrap Up

I can't tell you want to use when you record your video podcast, or even audio only, but I can tell you that the other tools just aren't as good.

I've been on 60+ shows other than my own, and used basically everything under the sun as a guest. Some of them would be clunky, wouldn't work with my mic right/camera too, and honestly they weren't as aesthetically pleasing either IMO.

To be honest I only kept the links in this post in case someone still wants to use the tool. There could be a number of reasons you might still want to, and that is okay. I want to give you my experience, but what matters to me most is helping you find the right tool FOR YOU.

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