How to Record Sermons Digitally

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Even if your church doesn't have a website or will never start using Twitter or Facebook, I'm sure your church records sermons. With tape players obsolete and CD players common, it would be good to make the switch to recording your service digitally if you haven't yet. Not only will this be more compatible with your church listeners, but will allow you to easily podcast your sermon. By popular request, I'm going to provide some basic instructions on how to record your sermon so you can podcast it.

Depending on the expertise of your sound booth operators there are several options to record your church service digitally:

  • Output the sound from your board to a PC and record it with Audacity. Once the service is done, save it as a Project then you can compress it from a WAV to a MP3. This choice provides the best quality and most features for recording, however it would be the most difficult choice. Here are some great tutorials.
  • Output the sound from your board to a CD Recorder. If your church presently records to tape, then the workflow for recording the services to CD should only require little change. After the service, import the CD on a computer using CDex or iTunes. You can import it as a WAV to edit it in Audacity or import it as a MP3 and not do any post processing.
  • If your service goes over a hour, make sure to have a plan on how to record the remainder of the service once the first CD is full.

Of course with either option, test it fully beforehand to make sure that the levels are consistent and a good volume. Once you have the audio file you can edit it in Audacity or Lame to trim the beginning and end, adjust levels and then encode it for uploading to the web.

There are several items to remember when recording a service:

  • Don't use the mix sent to the speakers in the sanctuary to record the service, instead use the Aux Send or a group mix.
  • If your congregation doesn't contribute audibly to the service than don't send the congregation mic to the recording mix.
  • Make sure that everything is properly grounded to eliminate hum.
  • Garbage in means garbage out. Don't worry, I'm not talking about the content of the service or sermon but the quality of the output from the sound board. If there is a hum or it's too quiet, you can make it a little better afterwards but it will still sound bad.
  • Periodically pick up the headphones and monitor the mix sent to the recording. You never know what might go wrong, like forgetting to turn off a channel going to the mix.
  • Recording and encoding in stereo won't impact the quality or increase the file size measurably.

If you combine this with the article on podcasting, you will have everything you need to create a podcast. Does your church use another way of recording sermons?

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