Recording Church Sermon Audio Without a Mixer

If your church has a mixer or soundboard as part of your sound system, it is usually best to record a signal out of the board. You can read more about these options on the page, “Recording Church Sermon Audio.” If your church doesn’t have a mixer or soundboard, or if it is not practical to connect it to your recording device, I am going to show some options to get the audio recorded.

Without a signal from a board, you will need to either find a recording device with a built-in microphone or attach a microphone to the device.

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.”
Since you don’t have a signal available from a soundboard, you will need a microphone. The issue here is, you can just plug any old microphone into a computer.  Plugging a microphone directly into a computer sound card will not likely you get the results you are looking for (if it works at all).
At this point, you have two options: a USB audio interface or a USB microphone. I will cover the USB interfaces here and the USB microphones in the microphone selection below.
A USB audio interface converts the analog signal from a microphone into a digital signal your computer can understand. They come in many shapes, sizes and prices. For what you are doing, you don’t need to spend a ton of money but don’t cheap out. Cheap, off-brand interfaces can introduce buzzes and other noises into your audio. They also don’t last as long. Among decent interfaces, price is often related to the number of possible inputs.
If you are only planning on using one microphone, this little box is all you need. Behringer makes decent products. You could spend 10 times as much but, likely, in recording a sermon, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. This has a built-in preamp to raise the level of your microphone high enough to get a clean signal and phantom power in case you need to power your microphone.
Cost: $29 (Amazon)
Connection: XLR, 1/4″


If you want to add an additional microphone, this unit is basically the same as the UM2 just with 2 microphone inputs both with preamps and phantom power.
Cost: $79 (Amazon)
Connection: XLR, 1/4″

Stand-alone Recorders

If you don’t have access to a computer for recording or that is not a practical option, you can use a standalone recorder. These have the advantage of being more portable and less expansive than computers. 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. 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.
Cost: $99 (Amazon)
Connection: 1/8″
Also consider:
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)
Connection: 1/8″

Tascam DR-70D 4-Channel Portable Recorder

81vxjzh-UWL._SL1500_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 to 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.  One of the reasons I love his device for the work I do is that it allows redundancy.  In a typical setup, I might have a condenser lavalier mic connected to channel one. Then, I might have a shotgun mic 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″




For Stand-alone Recorders and USB Interfaces

If you are using an external recorder, you might get away with using the built-in microphones but you will be better off using an external mic. There are hundreds of different options. There are also many variables to consider. There are different mics for different placements: lavaliers, headsets, goosenecks, shotguns, podium. There are different dynamic ranges, pattern options, power requirements, and more. Quality microphones can get expensive. They are worth the money if you have the money. Ultimately, if I were recording a sermon every week and could not connect to a soundboard, I would want a quality wireless lavalier or headset setup. Unfortunately, the entry price for that sort of system is at least $300.
Since I am assuming that, at this point, you are considering budget, I am just going to offer a few economical options that will work with the portable, stand-alone recorders listed above. After that, I will add some options that will work with a computer.

This is another item I keep in my bag, especially since it comes with an adapter that allows you to plug it into the headphone jack on a smartphone.(Unless you have a new iPhone, in which case you need an adapter to plug the adapter into.)  I have been able to capture nearly studio-grade audio with this plugged into a Tascam DR-05.

The trickiest part is getting it connected to the person you are recording and to your recording device. The cable is 20′ long which is long enough if your pastor isn’t prone to wander. If you are using the Tascam DR-05 or the Zoom H1 you can put it in the pocket of the person speaking. I have done exactly that. Clip the microphone, hit record, put it in their pocket and pick it up at the end of the service.

The thing I like least about this microphone is that it is powered by an LR44 button battery and there is no battery gauge. That means there is no way to tell if the batteries are dying. There is also no light to tell you that it is on so I have left mine on and killed that battery more times than I can count. The good news is, if you remember to turn it off between uses, you can get quite a few hours per battery and the batteries are cheap. But, if it is tucked in someone’s pocket, there will be no way to know if the battery dies.

Cost: $29 (Amazon)
Connection: 1/8″
Power: Supplied by battery.

Audio-Technica ATR-6550 


If it just isn’t practical to put a recorder in the speaker’s pocket, and money is an issue, this device will drastically improve the sound over a recorder’s built-in mics. This is a shotgun mic. That means, if you can get close enough and point it at the person speaking, it should pick up the sound. Unfortunately, if the speaker moves a lot, the mic may have to move too. Also, if the acoustics aren’t great and the speaker turns away from the mic, you will get muffled sound. The ATR-6550 has two modes, normal and tele, allowing you to adjust for the distance. You will need a microphone stand but, since the mic only weighs 4oz, you can get away with a cheap one from Amazon.

Cost: $69 (Amazon)
1/8″ (with 1/4″ adapter)
Power: Supplied by battery.

Shure MX418D/C Condenser Microphone – Cardioid

If your pastor is in the habit of standing still at a pulpit, lectern, or podium, a gooseneck or podium mic is a great solution. I hesitated to recommend this type of microphone because of the price. There are inexpensive versions out there but I have yet to hear one that was worth even the limited investment. The Shure MX418 is a favorite of churches that use this style of microphone. It was essentially designed for this use.

Two things you need to know about this microphone: 1. It needs phantom power. 2. It connects via an XLR cable. This will be no problem if you are using one of the USB interfaces listed above or the Tascam DR-70D.

Cost: $288
Connection: XLR
Power: Phantom required.

If none of these microphone options seem right to you, I highly recommend you talk to someone who specializes in microphones and audio. If you don’t know anyone, Sweetwater Music ( is a great place to start. You can talk to a real, live expert who can hear what you are trying to do and make a recommendation. They also have highly competitive prices and

For Computers

If you want to plug your microphone directly into a computer with purchasing a USB audio interface, your options are somewhat limited. USB microphones are basically regular microphones with built-in USB interfaces.

There are two obstacles to deal with in this case: One is that you are going to need your computer to be close to where your speaker is standing. USB cable runs can’t be overly long without spending additional money on extenders. Two is that your speaker is going to need to stand right in front of the microphone (at the pulpit or podium) and speak directly toward the mic. That will work great for some situations and not so great for others.


Blue Yeti USB Microphone

This is an amazing microphone for the price. It is a favorite of podcasters and the mic I use for just about everything I record on my Mac. It is actually three mics in one with three internal condensor capsules. You can set the pattern to pick up only the sound right in front of the mic, from the front and back or all the way around. It comes with a 10′ USB cable to connect it your computer. It has a sturdy and heavy stand to keep it in place. It would be hard to hide it on most lecturns but, if your speaker is willing to face toward it, you will get some great sound.

Cost: $129 (Amazon)

Connection: USB


Blue Snowball Condenser Microphone

This is the Yeti’s younger brother and is about half the price. It has dual capsules so it will pick up sound directly in front or all the way around. It lacks some of the other features of the Yeti but it is also smaller and less obtrusive. This is also a really popular choice and I have one at home for video conferencing and the occasional video voice over. The stand that comes with it is not as sturdy as the Yeti but it is more likely to work on an uneven surface.

Cost: $64 (Amazon)
Connection: USB

You will find some cheaper options out there but you get what you pay for. At this budget level, I wouldn’t likely waste my money on something cheaper. I bought a $20 USB microphone for my son. Even the most untrained ear can hear the difference in sound quality between that and the Blue Snowball.

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.”

Once you have your audio captured, you will need to edit and prepare for upload. To get started with that, check out “Church Sermon Audio Software.”

Stay tuned for more resources.

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