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Recording Church Services

Joined: 06/28/2007

My church has been using the Soundcraft Spirit FX16 Audio Mixer for about ten years now. We are not a very wealthy church, but we do our best. Last year we incorporated using a projector for notes that our pastor has for his messages and also we use it for our praise and worship music.

For many years, we have recorded messages using a tape player that is connected into our sound board. I know that technology is something that we need to utilize, and that many people have switched from using tapes to CDs.

Our church has a sound room that is located in the back of the sanctuary in an upstairs room that overlooks the crowd. This is where we have our sound board and recording system. We have someone with a laptop that is connected to the projector that sits in the front row. I wish we could find a way to put them up top in our sound room without them having to be in the front row and hang the projector up on the ceiling but I will that is for another topic on this forum. LOL..

Anyways. I am looking for a way to record our services on my laptop (Dell XPS M140, I have no software for any of this so whatever advice is appreciated) so I can stream them if I ever think of a way to start a website for our church and put them on CD's for people so we can give them away.

Thank you for reading.

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micah's picture
Joined: 06/21/2007
Cheap and Easy Recording Solution

Well, for a very cheap and easy solution, you'll need to get a cable that can connect your sound board to the 1/8" audio input jack on your laptop. No, this will not provide pro-audio quality sound, but it will be better than the cassette tapes you have now. Your next step up hardware-wise is to get a USB or FireWire audio adapter that will have better audio quality, but using your internal sound card will get you started.

It would also be nice if you could install a compressor between the sound system and the computer, but again, that's more hardware you might want to get later.

Next, go download Audacity from audacity.sourceforge.net. This is a pretty good open-source audio editor. Again, your next step up is something like Cubase or Pro Tools, but it sounds like you're at the proof-of-concept stage, so this can be a good start with minimal investment.

Once you've recorded the messages with Audacity, you may want to spruce them up a bit before exporting them to WAV files and burning to CD. I have some notes that you might find helpful http://chacadwa.com/foh.

Hopefully this will give you a start in the right direction.

Micah

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Darrin's picture
Joined: 01/29/2007
We have a low budget church

We have a low budget church ourselves. Out in the boonies and all. :) For the longest time we were using a tape recorder as well. Now we use the Maudio for recording our tracks along with a decent headset microphone. I then transfer the audio (wav format) to a flash drive and take it home and edit it using a simple wave editor and garageband. I really dont edit much other than trim the start and end of the audio. I do use Channel Strip for Garage Band plugin. Thats pretty much it. It does a decent job. You can listen yourself to some of the audio HERE.

For Windows a recording app that is both low cost and good quality is Total Recorder Pro. I used that consistently on windows before I switched to macs. For mixing audio and also recording also look into Propaganda. Both have free demos available.

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Rob Feature's picture
Joined: 06/01/2006
Good advice

I just wanted to chime in and say both of these posts so far are excellent advice. I tend to agree with Micah at this point because you can get it going for next to nothing. Buy a cable that will go from RCA to 1/8" (long enough to reach your laptop) and download hte free audacity software....and you're done.

For a quick, cheap, and easy solution, this is a winner.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.bobchristenson.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Melody
Melody's picture
Recording "the room"

My question is related but I need a way to record "the room" and burn CD's. Our mic's, guitar, electronic drums and bass are run through and controlled by the soundboard/tech, while the piano, organ and keyboard are not. We achieve a good mix in the room (probably just lucky based on our size) but our recordings through the soundboard are bad b/c we lose the instruments not running through the board. When we record the room (with just a video camera), we actually get a decent recording. For now, I want to record the room to a laptop using a better quality mic and burn cd's for our shut-in members. Suggestions for laptop, software, mic, CD recorder/duplicator? The reason for the laptop is for the dual purpose of running powerpoint or mediashout to a projector for screen presentation of notes and lyrics in the near future.

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Rob Feature's picture
Joined: 06/01/2006
A mix?

If possible, I'd recommend tryign to record a mix of both the soundboard and the room. If you can get the balance right with trial and error (assuming that you're recording stereo, not multitrack) this will give you the best of both worlds (crispness/presennce of direct miced stuff, vibe of the room and other missing instruments with room mics).

Really, this is going to be the same setup as any other audio recording (plus a way to mix room/console output, so another little mixer). Otherwise, you could pull this off just dandy with Audacity software, a decent conversion box, and a couple of condenser mics on the room (spread as far apart as possible and hard panned left/right).

Donno if that helps, but that's my quick 2 cents.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Joined: 12/16/2007
Here's what we do

Don't know if this is helpful or not, but we hung one of those pencil thin choir mics from our ceiling to acheive just about the same thing. We don't run it through the house (we'd get feedback), but it does run into our board, and then out the direct out on the back of the channel.

If you don't have direct outs on your board, you could use an open aux bus to have a separate mix. During your sound check, after the soundman mixes the monitors and house, he/she could mix the aux bus for the recording. Then you take the aux out into your recording device. We don't do this on our recordings, but we do use this technique for our nursery monitors. It works, but it's not stereo.

Slightly off-topic, and I know you didn't ask this, but just to give you a heads up: CCLI allows you to use the songs in it's catalogue on cds of the service, but you can't put them on a podcast, unless it's a song someone in your congregation wrote. Also, if someone sings a special off of a cd or tape, church's aren't even allowed to put them on CDs, much less podcasts. (Sorry if this is unwanted info!)

Anthony Pero
Minister of Music
Lima First Assembly of God
http://www.limafirstag.com/
http://www.anthonypero.com/
http://www.fouronefourproductions.com/

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micah's picture
Joined: 06/21/2007
All mixes are not created equal

Anthony's solution reminds me of how we did things back in our old sanctuary. We had a direct line out of the bass amp and a PZM mic mounted in front of the drums. Neither of these would ever go into the house mix, but they did go into the aux mix for recording, etc.

On our current setup, we use matrix outputs to send different mixes out. For example, our recording, cry room, etc, mix is just the FOH mix with a little extra from the choir groups added (so that more of the choir mics go into the recording than into the house.)

Micah

Joined: 12/16/2007
I agree

Yeah, we don't record off the busses, I was just suggesting that as an alternative for a less expensive board. We have 2 motu 2408s, so I can track 16 channels off the board if we're doing a recording for worship. Most of the time, however, we just capture the pastor's mic and the overhead mic for crowd noise. Then I EQ them separately and mix them. I don't mix to stereo cause I don't see the point without the music, most of which would be illegal on our podcast. I guess we could hang a second mic over the congregation, but it seems overkill to me.

Anthony Pero
Minister of Music
Lima First Assembly of God
http://www.limafirstmedia.com/
http://www.anthonypero.com/booking
http://www.worshipnexus.org

Jacob Sanders
Melody's picture
Has anyone ventured into pro-audio recording for there services?

Hey all,
I am just wanting to know if anyone uses any type of Digital recording systems for the church? i am looking at setting up something to record each track by itself. I have used pro-tools in a studio setting were u may be only using 16 tracks @ a time but i am needing 28+ tracks of recording at a time...and I also lookin @ using a logic system with maybe some presonus firepods or something....anyone with any ideas would be great...jake sanders

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Matt Farina's picture
Joined: 06/01/2006
After The Weekend

I can't really speak intelligently on this but, I'd suggest hitting this topic up again after the weekend when the audio guys are around.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

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Rob Feature's picture
Joined: 06/01/2006
Pretty much the same...

Hey Jacob...
Yup, I've done this, two ways:

1. Split all your signals and just use a totally separate setup to record (actually splitting your mic inputs and using a 'recording' console and a 'live' console separately. This is ideal as it gives you more control over EQ, compression, levels, etc going to tape.

2. Most people will use the same board/setup for live/recording to do this though...and your setup is going to be pretty much the same as a studio setup. You'll just pipe your board's direct outs (assuming you're using a board that has them) into the channels of your interface and you're good to go. To do it with pro tools would get a bit expensive because you'd have to use their pro interfaces ($$$) in order to get the inputs you'd need. A logic system with MOTU (or other) interface should work just fine as well.

If you're anything like me, it won't be the setup that's difficult or frustrating in this...it will be the difference between a controlled studio setting and a 'by the seat of your pants' atmosphere of a live situation that's the real concern.

Good luck with this, report back with your results!

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Joined: 12/16/2007
Using ProTools

I use a PC and MOTU for recording services, but I thought DgiDesign made a box in the $1000-$1200 price range that could run on mac and pc and came with pro tools LE. It may only have four inputs, but I'd imagine it still has scsi or lightpipe connections. You can buy 8 channel DA's with lightpipe out nowadays for under a thousand. Some combination therof should allow you to use pro-tools, if your heart is set on it. Also, M-Audio is making interfaces for under a thousand that use Pro-Tools LE.

Anthony Pero
Minister of Music
Lima First Assembly of God
http://www.limafirstmedia.com/
http://www.anthonypero.com/booking
http://www.worshipnexus.org

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Rob Feature's picture
Joined: 06/01/2006
Go big or go home

My experience with pro tools and that many tracks is as follows (feel free to disagree):

When you're dealing with more than about 24 tracks on PT LE you're going to start to have a headache (especially live, where there's no room for 'DAE Engine Crapped out because...well...It's LE" error messages. I know this will also be a similar situation when using "pro tools m-powered" which is the M-Audio stuff. Basically, my experience with Pro Tools at that level is "Go Big or Go Home"...I've found it not worth the headache to try and stretch LE like that.

I think, at that point, even I (a pro tools fanatic) would probably go with a Logic based solution. You can get the hardware that's intended to do it for a more affordable cost...unless of course you have $50k+ to blow on a PT HD system that'll do it ;)

Just my 2 cents...

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Joined: 06/27/2008
What we do/Idea

At our church we have a separate sound board that is just for mixing our live stream and Cd's and that dumps to a multitrack recorder (For those wondering we use two Otari 48-Channel Digital Audio Disk Recorder DR-100's) for the individual tracks and then the overall mix is dumped to a tascam CD/tape recorder. The CD and tape from CD/tape recorder is what we then give to people that want copies. You can do this with just a matrix or aux out that goes to the CD/tape recorder like a tascam or similar. That would probably be the easiest I think.

--
Ben Haan
Web Developer/Webmaster/Production Volunteer
Resurrection Life Church
www.benhaan.com

Ben Haan
Web Developer/Webmaster
Resurrection Life Church
www.benhaan.com

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Rob Feature's picture
Joined: 06/01/2006
Outboard Solution

Thanks for coving the giant gap in my brain, Ben...you're exactly right...
Somehow this 'traditional' solution slipped my mind (I was in Pro Tools mode). I think what you suggest is actually the best way to go...Grab a couple used Otaris or some ADATs or some other outboard solution and skip multitracking to computer all together. Then, fly it into PT later if you need to edit, etc.

Good stuff.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Joined: 12/16/2007
Oh, I don't disagree

I recorded a whole album for someone on their m-box once, and once the track count hit about 20, I started running into problems. i was just saying if their married to the idea of pro-tools, it was an option. I'll probably never go that route cause I build PCs, so I'm married to the PC, for better or worse. ;) If I can spend $500 a year and keep my computer top notch with an upgrade path and schedule, then that's what I'm gonna do.

Anthony Pero
Minister of Music
Lima First Assembly of God
http://www.limafirstmedia.com/
http://www.anthonypero.com/booking
http://www.worshipnexus.org

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micah's picture
Joined: 06/21/2007
Similar Approach Here, Too

As an update to what I posted on this thread last year, we now do something similar to what Rob Feature mentioned about Pro Tools.

Pretty much all of the recording we do at and around our church (beyond Audacity, which we still use in some places) has been with Steinberg's Cubase and MOTU gear, although a couple of guys running their own studios have sent their MOTU rigs out for third-party hardware upgrades.

We've run into the same issue where recording a high number of channels leads to either degraded audio quality or complete meltdowns, but we're getting acceptable recordings for our particular needs (which include non-technical issues that I won't go into here.)

Our current configuration, since some time last fall, is to record the FOH mix of every service as a stereo track in Cubase. For services where we want better music recording, we also record all of the tracks individually. We've recorded these pre-fader in the past, but are currently grabbing them post-fader, with a template designed for rapid turnaround in post-production. (So far, it's not rapid enough, and most of the time, we just use the two-tracks to make review copies for the worship team.)

For our most serious attempt at a good recording, we recorded everything live, and then replaced the vocal tracks in the studio, then re-recorded the choir. That came out pretty good, but there was a mismatch between band and vocals, and I didn't think the result sounded quite realistic.

For my last quick-mix, I started from my FOH mix and added a little from some individual tracks to pretty it up. That wasn't too bad, either, considering the amount of time spent on it.

I think that realistically, I'd approach this the same way that Rob and MF approached web design in episode 80. Decide what you want to accomplish, and determine what is most important among scope, quality, cost, and turnaround time, then budget and purchase accordingly. Scale your initial investment of finances and time to match your goals.

Try to find used stuff to match your needs on eBay. A lot of people are going the route of starting small and upgrading, and our studio guys have gotten nearly all the hardware they're using, and everything we're using at the church, for great deals, trading their own stuff out as they went.

Micah

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micah's picture
Joined: 06/21/2007
Outboard Recording

Hi Ben,

Good to see someone from Res Life on here. There is some really phenomenal music coming out of your church! (I'll also admit that when we first started putting our sermons online, I used Pastor Duane's messages as a reference to get my mp3 settings dialed in.) I need to check back to see what you're doing now, although every time our staff comes back from your January leadership conference, I get a bigger to-do list already. :-)

Anyway, I'd love to be able to do more outboard mixing in real-time. We have done the DVD audio for our Christmas drama this way for the past couple of years. All the music is pre-recorded anyway. We run 20+ wireless mics for this production, and we tried recording individual tracks, cleaning up and then resynching everything to the video. What a nightmare, and not quite worth it. Now we run a mixture of individual tracks and groups into an outboard mixer, and have somebody mixing that on the fly. We send that to the video team, who is live switching cameras, too. They also run tapes in every camera, so they can do some cleanup in post if necessary. The end result is not much different, and we can get the DVD out before Christmas, instead of before Easter!

Micah

clloyd
Melody's picture
Looking for CD recorder

I am having trouble locating a simple and basic cd recorder. I know there are alot of high end options all I am looking for is a cd recorder that can handle RCA input and record to a cd for our church service. Any suggestions or places to look?

Joined: 12/16/2007
I haven't...

... seen anything with a MSRP under $500.

Anthony Pero
Minister of Music
Lima First Assembly of God
http://www.limafirstmedia.com/
http://www.anthonypero.com/booking
http://www.worshipnexus.org

Joined: 07/12/2008
audio interface, Motu 828 MK3, opinions

Greetings all,

I am trying to find an optimum solution. I am zeroing in but would like confirmation of my thoughts and better alternatives in a similar price range if they exist.

The Motu 828 MK3 seems to fill most of our needs but there are a few concerns. They are:
No downloadable manual is available - what is Motu afraid I will find in there? Are they so cheap or on such weak financial footing that they are worried about charges for the bandwith consumed by manual downloads? If offering a PDF manual is too much, what shortcuts did they take in the hardware and software to cut costs? Only 1 reverb circuit - I think I would like more than one. This may not be a reasonable requirement arising from my lack of experience. A 'closed' architecture. This is on principle. Open would allow Linux drivers and also allow abandonment of the product by the mfr. to be dealt with more easily.

This is what we are looking for:
Basic needs:
>Add house sound to recording mix and nursery, etc.
>Phantom powered inputs to support at least 2 house mics.
>Internal mixing capabilities.
>Firewire or USB output audio stream for recording on PC.
>Some 'dsp processing' capability for compression, EQ, >Limiting, other effects, etc.
>Analog limiting of inputs - last resort to prevent overload of ADC.
>Day-to-day ease of use.
>It should come up on a default but programmable config and have easily selected presets.
>Reverb capability.
>At least 6 analog in and out pairs.
>MS and Mac OS compatibility - Linux would be even better.
>An easy to use computer side interface that will not become useless with an os update etc.
>A light load on the PC.
>Some system-wide presets I can configure that are saved in non volatile memory in the box.
>No need to use computer to have any functions except recording (of course) work.

Assuming an external box, some addional wants on it:

On the front panel:
>Meters that can be assigned to the record ouput.
>Reasonable function in meters - not just signal and overload lights.
>Controls on the front panel usable to tweak record output also quick selection of preset configs.
>Clear easy to understand interface controls probably to include text display for standalone setup.
>No need to read and understand binary, octal or hex numbering systems to use front panel effectively:-)
>One handed operation. No press and hold one button while manipulating another.
>Rack mounted 1U best.
>Most if not all analog I/O on back panel.

I have probably left out some important details but this is a start.

Comments appreciated.

Peter

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micah's picture
Joined: 06/21/2007
Tascam CD-RW700

We've been using the Tascam CD-RW700 for most of our CD recording since 2001. They sell for around $500. We currently have three of them, and while I won't say they've been completely without problems, they've been reasonably reliable. (Had one circuit board failure, probably due to power problems, that we repaired. One of them now records fine, but won't play back.)

They're RCA or S/PDIF interface. When we've needed two masters, we do RCA in and then fiber between two units, and then control them both with the same remote.

There's nothing really spectacular about them, but they seem to have been a good buy.

Micah

Joined: 12/08/2008
Suggestion.....

For those who want something more advanced, and aren't afraid to use Linux or Mac, I HIGHLY suggest Ardour.

http://ardour.org/

Download that, set it up and use a off board sound card like this:

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA202.aspx

It has RCA inputs AND outputs as well as S/PDIF and is only around 30 bucks. Just take the output of the mixer and put it into this and your set. Ardour is overkill for recording only one track, however, but you can also do a quick edit in the booth adding a recorded intro with the date and all and then save the wav file and burn the CD within minutes of the sermon finishing. You may want to take some extra time if you want in case you need to clean the audio up.

Once you get used to Ardour, you can step up to a card with more inputs and outputs and do some processing onboard with some of the plugins Ardour works with. All of those are free too of course. Eventually, you could get everything setup to the point you export a wav, compress it to a MP3 and put the tags on it and still be out of the booth in time for lunch!

Also, I suggest also using a podcast feed. You could have the podcast posted that sunday with this kind of setup.

The only thing with Ardour is it could take some work to tweak the jack audio server on Linux in order to get this setup just right. You also might want to look at using Ubuntu Studio as it already hase alot of this stuff done for you. However, I highly suggest testing things at a choir rehearsal to make sure your getting nice clean recordings.

http://ubuntustudio.org/

Audacity is great if your just doing some simple edits but Ardour is awesome even for simple stuff once you get used to the interface.

God Bless!

David
Melody's picture
Recording church services

We have recently been given a large soundboard to enable mixing of mics and wired instruments. I'm trying to help out (after the fact) and the sound board is intimidating. I have not been able to locate something like "Soundboards for Dummies," but that's where I am.

I, too, need to learn how to record off our sound board. I could use the TAPE OUT, but the signal strength is too low. I was partially successful using the headphone jack as output and then cabled that to the LINE IN on my laptop. It works, but easy to get too much signal and distorted sound. If I could boost the signal of the TAPE OUT, that might be best, but I don't know what controls the signal strength of TAPE OUT and how I can control signal strength. Wired instruments come through loudly; spoken word too softly. Yes, I do need "Soundbaords for Dummies."

Suggestiions will be gratefully accepted.

David

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Josiah's picture
Joined: 12/20/2007
That sounds like a great item

That sounds like a great item to start a new thread with. It'll also get you some better exposure. Each sound board company does things a little differently. What brand and model of sound board are you using?

Cook
Melody's picture
Any Other Recording Ideas?

Hello,

Just wanted to I'm glad I found this site. I can tell I'll be visiting a lot! Anyways...I run the sound at our church using a SoundCraft GB8 48 Channel board. We use about 30 of those channels at once and I'm the only guy in the sound room. We don't have to many people that are willing/capable to step in a help out. I have my hands full every service and anything that can make things run smoother can help. I'm currently using Audacity to record the individual songs and the sermon and then export them as mp3's. This takes a while to convert and its a little time consuming. Does anyone know of a good solution that would allow me to record directly to an mp3? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

Joined: 12/16/2007
Great Recording resource

Here's a great recording resource for anyone coming in on the ground floor.

http://tweakheadz.com/guide.htm

Blessings,
Tony

Joined: 04/19/2009
recording the room

Google for "boundary microphone".

For capturing an ensemble (rather than an individual instrument or an individual speaker), a boundary microphone may provide the best and most simple solution.

A boundary microphone, which resembles a large computer mouse, is designed to operate in contact with a large flat surface such as a conference table or the wall of an auditorium. High-quality boundary microphones are in use for the recording of symphony orchestras.

One advantage of the boundary microphone is that, if the microphone is mounted high on a wall and the cord is routed with care, no one is going to monkey with it.

RLH

Wow You took the words off my keyboard.

This is where I'm at I took over the sound system at our church. HELP is all I can say. I have a DAK-2800-PC Interface Stereo DJ mixer we bought for puting the Pastors sermons from 16 years on tape to CD. I plug the #2 headphone from mixing board into Phono/line A on the DAK. Then I plug the Sound card/amp from DAK to my PC mic. trouble is I have to turn the Headphone down to 0.5,and the DAK down to 0.25 and push the fader almost all the way to Phono/line B. If I have the Phono/line a set to phono. If I set it to Line then it is recorded to low. And Phono is to distorted. So where is this Tape out on a Mixing board if its low the the DAK will amp it up. Then I use WildVice Studio to record the service. I split one recording of the Praise and worship and then one with just the Pastors sermon. WildVice Studio By the way is a Podcast recorder it takes Mono from the PC mic and convert/Records it as Stereo. Then I use Audacity if I need to edit it.

At the Begaing of this thread someone was saying they want to move thier poerpoint computer away from the front row. get 100 ft S-Video cable or 100 ft HD15 m/m UXGA Monitor Cable, We have two Laptops One the Church has Mac :( with S-Video port we use for Power Point. I have a PC Laptop with S-video and HD15 ports, we use for recordings and also video play back. Use the Remote for the Projector to switch between Laptops.

Back to the recordings I have one recording that has a tic sound all the way through it. If I sound bite it out then the voices sound like a keyboard playing. Any sujestions how to get it out. We have 3-4 recording on our Podcast site http://newlightchristianchurch.podbean.com Tell me what you think Please. Also the one recording with the tic is like 1.19gigs and that is MP3 formated.No it's not on the podcast site.

OK how do you delete a post out of here

Can you tell I'm a newbe. Please someone remove the first 2 post keep the last one. Its the right corrected one Thanks.

Any Other Recording Ideas? This may help

I use a program called WildVoice Studio here is the link http://www.wildvoice.com/Pages/WildVoice_Studio.aspx record in clips then save as MP3, then I use audicity to edit if I have to.

Joined: 08/08/2009
Audacity is great but...

Speaking to the low budget route, we started off recording via Audacity on my laptop, which was also running MediaShout at the same time. We found that too often, MediaShout's memory hogging ways left too little for Audacity and we kept losing our recordings. (and drastically increasing my stress level when the laptop would crash...)

So I went out and bought a $40 Sony voice recorder, plugged it in and was good to go. This still isn't foolproof, but at this point it's mostly pilot error that causes issues.

Joined: 04/19/2009
"the low budget route"

Hi, Jennifer.

The "low-budget route" does not necessarily involve compromise of audio quality and utility. Indeed, now the low-budget route can be the preferred and best approach.

If you look over the various forums here, you should find at least two replies in which I point out that, from the standpoint of audio quality, using a general-purpose computer for audio recording is far from ideal. See, for example, "raw recording to cd versus to flash" and "audio recorder considerations".

There is an increasing number of inexpensive ($150 to about $1500) broadcast-grade solid-state recorders which record to removable flash memory devices. While some of these machines have integral microphones and are intended for capture of music, many have balanced microphone and/or line-level inputs (typically XLR, but some, regrettably, have miniature TRS phone jacks) and some even provide phantom power for condenser microphones. (Apparatus without balanced inputs and outputs simply is not broadcast-grade.) Many are battery-powered. Many offer 24-bit recording (CD-quality is only 16-bit), which translates into extremely wide dynamic range. Check out the web site of a broadcast supplier such as www.bswusa.com.

The consequence of wide dynamic range is that the record level becomes rather non-critical, so long as it is sufficiently low to avoid a full-scale signal. With conventional 16-bit recording, much more care is required in setting the record level, for with only 16 bits it is easy to record at such a low level that the audio quality is compromised, or at such a high level that signal peaks reach full-scale.

In digital recording, a peak which reaches full-scale causes severe distortion. Some mp3 conversion software and many mp3 players malfunction if a signal peak comes within a few dB of full-scale. With a 24-bit recorder, you can set the record level so that signal peaks never get closer than 6 to 12 dB below full scale; this ensures freedom from distortion, yet there is no compromise of audio quality. Note that the file can be converted to 16-bit format for editing; it is the initial capture which is critical.

So use a dedicated audio recorder with a balanced input, so that you are capturing a clean, noise-free signal (something which is quite difficult to do when recording on a computer); and then transfer the audio file to the computer for editing and subsequent conversion to mp3 format.

RLH

G&G Moderator
G&G Podcast Host
micah's picture
Joined: 06/21/2007
Marantz PMD660

I guess it's time to chime in again on this thread that won't die. I guess that's proof that the question is still out there, but the answer changes over time.

In my last comment above, I noted that we're using CD-R/W decks for recording sermons. That's true, but we did have to replace one of those units this year. Since the primary use of that unit is portable, we opted for the Marantz PMD660 solid state recorder, reviewed on Geeks and God here. It's a great little unit for line level recording. I also discovered that the internal mics are pretty good if you want to "record the room" as someone mentioned above. The only thing I haven't tried yet is hooking up a mic directly to the XLR inputs and recording that way.

Micah

Joined: 04/19/2009
recording direct to cd

The problem with recording direct to CD is that, in order to edit a sound file, it is necessary to "rip". This is because a sound on an audio CD is not stored in the same manner as sound is stored in a data file such as .wav or .mp3. In order to create a sound file which can be edited or converted to MP3 format, a ripping program must collect data words from the CD and assemble them in correct sequence to create a .wav file. In the process, it may be necessary to read a single location on the CD multiple times, until consecutive identical reads indicate that the data word has been read correctly. (When a CD player is playing a CD, there is not enough time for such re-reading, so players generally do not concern themselves with misread data.) The ripping process is time-consuming, is fraught with pitfalls, and is not always successful.

Nonetheless, there was a period of several years -- back around the year A.D. 2000 -- during which recording direct to CD was about the best approach which could be taken by a ministry on a limited budget.

Recording direct to CD eliminates the endless problems with noise, ground-loops, etc., which typically plague those who utilize a computer as a recorder.

Instead of recording direct to an inexpensive flash memory recorder, consider this alternative, if you have a high-quality CD recorder with balanced input/output circuitry -- an example being the Tascam CD/RW-2000. You may find that you end up with a higher-quality recording by using the CD recorder in "pass-through" or "monitor" mode, feeding a line-level signal to the flash memory recorder. The reason is that, in the CD machine, little expense was spared in the analogue-to-digital conversion and level control circuitry.

Accurate analogue-to-digital conversion is complex, difficult, and expensive; not every manufacturer does it well. But once a signal has been digitized, even the cheapest recorder or home computer can store it accurately. Accordingly, there can be audible difference in the quality of sound captured by flash memory recorders of various make.

When seeking better audio quality, look first at the microphone preamplifier. A discrete external preamp (or "voice strip" or "voice processor") generally is much better (in the sense of less noise and distortion) than the preamplifier found in the typical mixer.

Next look at the analogue-to-digital conveter. Some voice processors have built-in a high-quality analogue-to-digital converter, and can feed a SP/DIF or AES/EBU digital signal directly into a flash recorder or personal computer. And some CD recorders, such as the Tascam CD/RW-2000, also can feed a SP/DIF or AES/EBU stream to a personal computer.

Finally, note that there is no compromise of audio quality when a computer is used to record a SP/DIF or AES/EBU data stream.

RLH

Joined: 08/25/2009
Alesis USB Recording Kit

I am new to the forum, recording hardware and software. I have been charged with coming up with this solution and after a preliminary test thru the sound system that did not go well, I am looking at a separate solution that will capture the (just like being there) sound of congregation, piano, organ, unplugged instruments and the preacher(even when his wireless doesn't work which happens alot).
I saw this kit and wondered if anyone has experience with this method of usb recording.
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Alesis-USB-Recording-K...

Joined: 04/19/2009
"just like being there"

Look into a "boundary microphone" mounted on the wall; see my previous posting on this.

Joined: 08/25/2009
just like being there

I read up on this and the science behind it is cool. Is placement an issue? I am thinking about putting this facing the pulpit center of the wall on the outside of the balcony. We are in around a 60X40 square with a 20ft flat ceiling. That placement will put it about 6 ft above the congregation, 40ft from the house speakers and 30ft from the pulpit. Sound like a good place for a boundary mic?

My fear is the noises of the people directly under the mic will be too prominent.

Joined: 04/19/2009
boundary microphone placement

Do not neglect to consider the ceiling -- or the floor. (Some boundary microphones are designed to survive being trod upon, in view of placement on the floor of a stage with actors moving about.)

I suggest that you comb (thoroughly!) the web sites of microphone manufacturers such as Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, Shoeps, etc., for articles regarding microphone technique. To see who are the manufacturers of studio-quality microphones, go to the web site of a supplier such as www.bswusa.com, and click on the "microphones" link. There is much valuable material to be found, if only you are willing to search it out. My files contain articles on boundary microphones, but the files currently are in another location.

And make use of Google, with phrases such as "boundary microphone technique" and "boundary microphone placement". Dealers who rent equipment to Hollywood studios and Broadway have put together some rather comprehensive application notes which have the added advantage of comparing the gear from various manufacturers.

In the end, experimentation is required. Every week or every service, you can try a different placement. Save a sample recording from each location and compare the recordings once you have tried every obvious placement. Within about a month you should have found a good placement.

RLH

Rick E.
Melody's picture
Record device for church service.

Hello everybody - I'm new to this thread so I might be repeating. But has anyone considered the Zoom H2 SD Handy Recorder. We've been recording our service direct to CD - one of those Sony consumer decks. My disappointment revolves around the fact that the direct recording straight from my countryman headset mic lacks room noise. So in the recording all you get is me. It's effective - but dry. I've been reading about the Zoom H2 SD Handy Recorder. At $150.00 at buy.com it appears to be exactly what I'm looking for. You can set it up in the room and get both stage and house sound in high quality. We're gonna give it a try. I will post again with the results. Below are some of the specs of the Zoom H2. This is a helpful thread. Thanks for all you guys taking the time.

Who Needs the H2 Handy Recorder from Zoom?
Everyone who craves brilliant stereo recording.
Simplicity is a beautiful thing.
It's a simple idea: provide brilliant stereo recording in an easy-to-use, ultra-portable device. Now everyone can record pristine audio in an infinite variety of applications. From seminars and conferences, to electronic news gathering (ENG) and podcasting, to musical performances, songwriting sessions and rehearsals, the H2 provides amazing recording quality. And no matter what kind of music you perform or the instrument you play, the H2 can effortlessly record it in high-quality stereo.

90° Pattern
Record from the front at 90°

120° Pattern
Record from the rear at 120°
Why four mics are better than two.
The H2 is the only portable recorder with 4 mic capsules on-board for 360° recording. With 4 mic capsules in a W-X/Y configuration, the audio is decoded instantly, bringing these four signals together for unparalleled stereo imaging.

But the H2 doesn't stop there. For maximum flexibility, you can record from the front of the H2 in a 90° pickup pattern or the rear of the H2 in a 120° pickup pattern at up to 96 kHz/24-bit resolution as a WAV file, or as an MP3 file at bitrates up to 320 kbps. Additionally, you can record in a 360° pickup pattern at up to 48kHz/24-bit resolution which will allow you to convert your recordings to 5.1 Surround.

Joined: 04/19/2009
"dry" sound versus "ambience"

If your goal is communication of the Word of God, a "dry" sound is good. But if your goal is to impart a "warm and fuzzy" feeling....

Have you ever tried to listen to tapes of a lecture or Bible class which have been recorded by a portable recorder placed on the podium? Such recordings indeed abound in "ambience" -- reverberation, room noise, coughs in the audience, the crying of a baby (though a baby never should be permitted in the auditorium!), etc. But the ambience typically is distracting to the point of being maddening.

Stereo and surround may be fine if you are recording at a high data rate for listeners who have suitable reproduction setup in a quiet environment. But then you are dealing with large audio files which take a long time to download and much drive space (or many disks) to store. And if you are not knowledgeable and very careful in post-recording production, you can end up with bizarre stereo effects and other artifacts which make it annoying to listen with earphones.

But if your goal is to communicate to the listener who possibly is using an inexpensive personal mp3 player with cheap ear-pods in a noisy environment (city bus or train, automobile, sidewalk or jogging trail), then you are moving in the wrong direction; you should be recording and publishing in monaural, and not in stereo or "surround".

A more proper method of introducing a bit of "ambience" is the use of a lavalier microphone. This approach is based on the fact that (as compared to the Countryman microphone) the distance from the microphone to the speaker (you) is increased by a factor of 10 to 20, while the distance between the microphone and the audience (room noise) remains unchanged. Accordingly, the room noise becomes more prominent in the recording. And the complexities and problems of stereo recording are eliminated.

For professional applications such as television news casts, the lavalier microphones in use typically are omni-directional; the Sony ECM-55 is one of the most popular. However, lavalier microphones also are available in a cardioid pattern. But remember that a television studio is a relatively quiet environment.

ADDENDUM regarding microphone response pattern: The determination of whether, when using a single microphone to record a lecture, class, or sermon, one should employ a directional microphone (e.g., cardioid) or an omni-directional microphone is not as simple as it at first may seem. This is because the methods available to microphone manufacturers to create directionality typically result in a frequency response which varies with the direction from which the sound arrives. The result is that, with directional microphones, off-axis sound tends to have an unnatural timbre which sometimes is unpleasant and distracting. The result is similar to a radio or television program to which a pre-recorded "laugh track" has been added; one generally can discern from the timbre alone that the "audience" is fake. Microphones of better design and higher quality tend to have a more natural off-axis response. And though even the "omni-directional" microphone is not perfectly omni-directional in its response, the omni-directional generally is much better when ambience is desired in a recording.

Finally, perhaps your evaluation ("dry") is due the limited frequency response of the Countryman, rather than to a lack of ambience. Obtaining the brilliant "studio sound" such as that which you hear on NPR broadcasts requires another approach to the matter.

Sid
Melody's picture
we were talking to very

we were talking to very professional experienced people who sell and install equipment and digital is good if you have money but it becomes complicated and takes longer to get sound through the channel to the house,when you are setting up etc, unless you are high tech its probly not recommended
Sid

Joined: 11/16/2009
Zoom H2

Rick
We have a small church with a 20 channel deck and had similar needs to you. We used to record to tape but were looking for something digital. We steered clear of recording direct to CD because of the 70 min limit and inability to edit before burning. Price was also a factor.
We bought the Zoom H2 and have been really happy with it. You can use the line in to record from a deck or instrument or plugged in mic (2 channels) or use the bult in mics to record a whole room. We found that this box is great because we can record to MP3 up to the size of our memory card and then edit easily using audacity. Also if we have small meetings we want to record we can bring the H2 recorder with battery power and no extra gear to record with. The quality is great and it's been a pleasure to own.
I hope this helps.

rajkumar
Melody's picture
recording reg

Sir your comment was really helping me. I'm very much interested in recording,so i wantu to clarify my doubts regarding it. sir in our church we have AHUJA 250W 6 channel amplifier, two mic one from ahuja and other from shure. i have a PC. how can i record the audio with this. can i do it??? our church is very small. what cable can i use? where to connect it? plz help me. make it a point that i'm new to recording. i'm yet to give a try. give me a simple way. plz send ur idea to my mail. mrajkumar88@karunya.edu
thank you
with regards
rajkumar.

Joined: 12/16/2007
What kind of outputs?

Need a couple of peices of information to help you:

1) What sound card do you have? I'll look up the specs, if you can give me a model number. You should be able to find this in your control panel, under Sound in Windows XP and Vista.

2) what kind of outputs do you have on your mixer/amp? Are there more than one set?

Blessings,
Tony Pero

Joined: 02/03/2010
"Playing Back" recorded church services

Greetings, all.
I'm not sure this actually fits here, but I hated to start a new thread for this question.

I am serving (part time) a small church that is just getting into recording the services to take them to home-bound/nursing home resident members. We have the computer set up and have the recording side of things pretty well in hand (well, we've been chasing a nasty ground loop between the PA system feed and the computer to do the recording because the two units are in buildings built at separate times, but we have that figured out).

ANYWAY, my question has to do with how to PLAY BACK these recordings, and the media on which to put them. The first consideration is... this is a rural area and not high tech. Any media will need to be "carried in" (like a CD). First question... where are places to look for reasonably priced, durable CD players with larger buttons that elderly folks would have an easier time operating? I'm particularly interested in specific models that you have had experience and have given good results. We are not so interested in the personal players with headphones but want to stop short of "boom box" type player. I have not done a lot of shopping, but most players I've seen have several controls and are combined with radios, clocks and such.

Second question... with USB memory drives cheap and available, is there an easy to operate player out there that accepts a USB "flash drive" that could thus be recycled and save cost of making a new CD each time? It seems a waste to make CDs for a service, take them to members to listen to once and then toss.

Thanks for reading.
Jeff

Joined: 02/24/2010
hi everyone

Hi my name is Jonathan. I'm involved in the music ministry in my church. I'm also involved in the video Ministry as well. I have a situation where i'm recording all the church services on a DVD, but the music sounds terrible on the recording. I want to be able to give people a good quality sound when they take these dvd's home and watch them. Right now i'm just having the video crew record the sunday school service and the preaching and that's it, because i don't want to bring imbarrassment to the music department. The music coming from the house speakers in the main autitorium sounds awesome, but i need a good quality mix on the dvd's. I patched in a mixing bourd to try to bring a mix but that really didn't do what i wanted it to do. my question is: what kind of free software could i use to mix the sound on the dvd's so i could get a good quality sound to the viewers at home? I plan on patching in a labtop with whatever software is recommented to make this happen. I'm gonna patch the computer in where the video and autio are going into the dvd burner! Hopefully i'm making since here....

Joined: 03/02/2010
Geeks & God newbie

I'm new to this site but this looks like the place to be if you're a geek and love God like I do. I am the lead sound tech at West Side Community Church in Traverse City, Michigan. We are using a Yamaha LS9 board and the built in USB recorder to record our messages. I am not really happy with the actually quality of the recordings and I am also experiencing low audio levels once the message is transferred from the MP3 format to a CD. I know that the actually quality lies mainly with me and how the pastor's mic is EQed, which by the way our pastors use countryman mics. Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Justin

Joined: 07/28/2010
Help

-Goal
I want to record the sermons and then put them on a audio cd that works in basically all cd players.

-What I've tried
I've tried burning cds on four different computers(a win 98, 2 xps, and a vista).
I've tried recording using audacity on the computers just to make certain it wasn't the recording.
I've tried recording with the built in sound recorder on vista, and Free Audio Editor.
I've tried burning at different speeds x1,x2,x4,x8,x24.
I've tried burning as CAO and TAO.
I've tried burning audio cds(.cda) and mp3 cds along with just straight burns with wavs and mp3s as a data disc.
I've tried using many different burning programs: Ashampoo, Nero burning ROM 10, Zune, Itunes, Burn4Free, CDR Tools Frontend.
I've tried playing cds on two different cd players an old one and a new one and it doesn't work.
They say:NO DISK or DISK NOT FINALIZED(but I know they are finalized because all the burning software says they are finalizing.
The burned cds do work on other computers and dvd players.

-What confuses me
When I burn songs I ripped from a cd or downloaded off itunes the cds work on my test cd players using any of the burning programs I mentioned above. This implies to me my method of burning cds isn't the problem but something to do with the formatting of the songs(though I've tried everything I can think of and I've read a lot of web postings on the problem including some of Micah's solutions at http://chacadwa.com/foh relating to audacity, but everything matches up with what I'm doing). I can't figure out why the stuff I record doesn't work while the stuff I got off itunes or ripped does work though they are the same format and I burn them the same way.

Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks

Joined: 09/27/2010
Recording services and digitally archiving

Hi. I stumbled on this site (thankfully!) We currently have a sound system just for amplifying the pastor. We have been trying to use that system for making recordings but have come to the conclusion that we should split our systems. So, that means we are starting from scratch for a recording system. One suggestions we have had is to use boundary mikes and pick up the speech from the room. Hopefully this would let us pick up the choir, organ and anyone speaking. Does that sound right? Since some of the mikes would be about 30 up a wall we will need to supply phantom power. Eventually we will want to get the signal on to a server or Buzzsprouts for web access. What equipment do we need to run the signal through to get good quality? We already have a rack system sound I would like to simply continue racking. We have a benefactor who is very eager for this so we do have some money to accomplish this.

The second part of this is, are we better off using someone like Buzzsprouts or can we do our own archiving of services that could be easily accessed from our website. And how much of all of this can be done automatically.

I'm in way over my head so any help would be appreciated. Thanks