For a more narrative explanation of how all these things work together, check out my post “Sharing Sermon Audio
Sermon Recording Mixer or No Mixer?
Before you start finding equipment, you need to know if you are going to be hooking up your recording device to your church’s mixer or soundboard. In most cases, if your church has an application system, it has some kind of mixer. If that is the case, the best solution is to connect your recording device to your mixer or soundboard. That way, you will get a clean signal from the microphone your speaker is using. When that is not practical, you will need to either find a recording device with a built-in microphone or attach a microphone to the device. For those cases, check out my page, “Recording Church Sermon Audio Without a Mixer
Sermon Recording Devices
To learn about connecting recording devices to soundboards and mixers, check out my page, “Audio Cables and Adapters.”
If you have a computer available, you have access to a great recording device. Using a computer can also save you time since you won’t need to transfer the audio files when you are done recording. How powerful a computer you need will depend on the software you choose. Check out the vendor websites for recommended specs. Since the software can also be used to edit and prepare the audio for upload, it will be discussed on another page in the toolbox: Church Sermon Audio Software.”
For connecting to a mixer or soundboard, most computers now have built-in soundcards. The stock soundcard should work just fine for this application. Remember “Audio Cables and Adapters for Recording Church Sermon Audio” will help you figure out how to hook things up.
Note: On Macs and some PCs, there is one jack that handles both input and headphone output.
If you don’t have access to a computer for recording or that is not a practical option, you can use a standalone recorder. This can be plugged directly into your mixer or soundboard. These units also have inputs for external microphones and built-in microphones making them great for a number of other applications.
You are still going to need access to a computer at some point to edit and upload the audio but these will do a great job capturing the audio and saving it to a data card. You can then either import to your computer from the card or plug the device directly into your computer via a USB cable.
I love this thing. I keep one in my bag and have used it for a million different purposes. If you are connecting it to a soundboard, you will need a cable or adapter that will plug into a 1/8 stereo plug. This could work as a standalone recorder using the built in mics if you could get it near the person speaking. It can be mounted on a standard tripod. You can even power it using a USB cable if you want to be sure you don’t run out of battery power. Files are saved to a micro sd card.
The Zoom recorder is a little bit less expensive but other than that it comes down to preference. Some prefer the Zoom because they find the controls easier to use. It can also be plugged in directly to a computer and used as an external microphone.
Cost: $79 (Amazon
Tascam DR-70D 4-Channel Portable Recorder
This unit is a serious price bump from the first two I mentioned but long-term, it is a great investment. This is the big brother of the Tascam DR-05 I wrote about above. There are a number of advantages of this unit over the DR-05. It records to four separate tracks and stores them as four separate audio files. It has two built-in microphones that can record while you have external sources plugged in. The levels of all four tracks are independently adjustable. And, it accepts XLR connections and provides phantom power. You won’t need the phantom power if you are connecting straight to a soundboard but it does open up some other possibilities. One of reasons I love his device for the work I do is that it allows redundancy. In a typical setup, I might have an XLR connection coming from the soundboard into channel one. Then, I might have a microphone plugged into channel two powered by the onboard phantom power providing a little room sound to make the recording sound more natural. Then I have channels three and four recording from the built-in mics. This has saved me more times than I can count. Sometimes microphones stop working for no apparent reason. Sometimes connections go bad without warning. With four tracks of audio, I can usually salvage something. It may not sound as good as I have originally planned but sometimes, “okay” audio is better than no audio.
Cost: $299 (Amazon)
Connection: XLR, 1/8″
Once you have decided on equipment, you will need to hook it all up. For help, read “Audio Cables and Adapters for Recording Church Sermon Audio.”