Looking for the simplest method of recording church sermon audio? Thanks to the TASCAM Micro Portable Digital Audio Recorder, you can capture high-quality audio for posting sermons on your website, delivering them to members who can’t make it to church, or for archival purposes.
Recording Church Sermon Audio the Easy Way
There are multiple ways to record sermon audio. If your church has a soundboard, you can plug a recorder in a capture sound. There are also wireless microphone solutions, including a microphone on the speaker and a wireless receiver connected to a computer or recorder. Still, these solutions can be too complicated for smaller churches, especially those without any technically inclined staff or volunteers. Without someone to troubleshoot problems, you can find yourself missing another recording. Then you will feel bad; if you forget, the emails will remind you to feel bad.
This is why I am a fan of the TASCAM Micro Portable Digital Audio Recorder with Lavalier Microphone. One device in one place with easy operation may be just the right solution for your church. Add in the software that comes bundled with the recorder, and you might reach hero status for how good this sounds.
I want to walk you through how one might use a recorder like this on a Sunday morning. I will talk about the features as I walk through a typical workflow.
Getting Set Up With TASCAM DR-10L
Before the sermon, make sure you have a clear microSD card and a fresh AAA battery. The unit will take a 32GB card which will hold quite a few sermons (depending on your settings, about 60 hours), but the safest bet is to keep it empty and backed up elsewhere so you never run out of room or lose more than one week if a card is misplaced. They are tiny.
One AAA battery can last up to ten hours, but again, with the critical nature of sermon recording, you don’t want to take any chances. Many churches use a new battery every week, to be sure. I get it, but I now buy high-quality rechargeables for my remaining equipment that runs on AA, AAA, C, D, or 9V batteries. The prices have really come down, and the chemistry has improved. Rechargeables don’t hold quite as much charge as regular traditional alkaline batteries, but you should still get around 8 hours on one.
A lot of pros won’t use these and insist on the big-name batteries. I have been using them for years without any issues.
You can also go with a rechargeable battery. These don’t last quite as long, but you can put them in the charger when you are done and ensure you have power for the next recording.
I took a chance on POWEROWL batteries for home use. I have been thrilled with them. I wish this little charger had a regular AC plug. Still, if you bought the right USB wall charger, you could just plug it into that. They don’t show any minimum power specs for the charger.
Best Mic Placement for Recording Church Sermon Audio
Connect the lavalier microphone to the TASCAM recorder. Attach the microphone to the speaker’s outfit, ensuring it is close enough to capture the speaker’s voice clearly. A good spot is usually on the speaker’s shirt, coat, or blouse about a hands width from their neckline. The speaker may want to run the cable under their shirt or coat to hide it.
Be on the lookout for noisemakers. A mic that rubs on a shirt, a tie that swings and bumps the mic, hands, and arms that like to touch or cover the mic, loud jewelry, all sorts of things can compete with the voice of the speaker.
A quick tip: This unit has a headphone output jack. That means you could do a mic check by recording a sample and then detaching the recorder from the microphone and plugging in a pair of headphones to hear how it sounds.
If you have ever worked with small electronics, you already know how hard it can be to read settings on dim, tiny screens. The DR-10L has an OLED screen. If you are into display tech, you know that term. If not, know it is a nice upgrade, and you can see a lot better.
Navigate the TASCAM’s interface to set the right recording format and level. For sermons, a WAV format at 44.1kHz/16-bit is generally suitable. Adjust the input level to a point where it’s not too loud (causing distortion) or too quiet (missing essential details).
You will want to experiment a few times to get the levels just right. However, this recorder has your back if something unexpected happens. The DR-10L has a dual recording feature. In dual recording mode, you can set the input level to what you think sounds right, and a second file will be recorded simultaneously at a lower level. So, if the speaker suddenly gets louder than expected, you can still get a clean recording with no distortion. This has saved me in the past while using other devices with the same feature.
Recording Church Sermon Audio
Hit Record! I’ve worked in several churches and can tell you how difficult that can be. The good news is that you can start it long before the service starts. Remember, with the right battery and SD card, you can record for hours. So, it is no problem to hit record long before the service starts so you don’t forget. TASCAM’s one-touch recording feature eliminates any additional and unnecessary complications.
Retrieving the Recording
Once you are done, you just need to retrieve the recorder. (I worked in church media; sometimes, you must chase these down!) Then, you can transfer the audio file to your computer either by plugging the DR-10L directly into your PC or Mac using the included USB cable or by ejecting the microSD and sliding it into your computer’s card reader. I am a big fan of the flexibility to do this both ways. When I am in the studio, I plug stuff into my USB hub. Still, in a church setting, I can see popping out the microSD card and handing it to a volunteer who would take care of the next step.
Post-Recording Editing and Processing
Yes! You can improve the sound of your church sermon audio after the service is over. First, you can trim out the silence at the beginning, end, and anywhere else there are long pauses. If you are going to be syncing this audio to video recorded elsewhere, you will want to save this part for the video editing process.
I know from experience that some churches meet in spaces that are tough for recording. Many church spaces have a lot of reverb or echo. Often the rooms are noisy in a recording due to air conditioners, fans, squeaky chairs, crying children, etc. More and more tools are available to help make the best of what you have.
In fact, the DR-10L comes with iZotope RX Elements Audio Repair Bundle. I use a different version of this iZotope software, which is pretty miraculous. It can nearly eliminate that room echo, air conditioners, fancy, even the stray chair squeak and hungry kid. It’s by no means perfect, but it can make a significant improvement.
Let Me Know if You Need More Help!
I am not sure I have written enough on the whole processing and production of audio. Whatever you are doing with the final church sermon audio, it is worth spending some time optimizing the sound. If people are going to be listening to it, we might as well take a moment to improve that experience. Let me know if there are any tutorial pieces that would be helpful and aren’t already available.