The methods for capturing the actual recording vary greatly. Is the speaker using a sound system to project his message? Are recordings already being made, and if so, in what format?
The term "Source" refers to what you want to record, whether it be one person (e.g. pastor sermon), a group of people, or otherwise.
Here are some common recording scenarios you may encounter:
- Source being carried over church sound system
- If a mixer board is in use with the sound system, then it is quite possible that you can utilize a "Line Out" feed from the mixer board to capture the audio on some sort of digital recorder, such as your computer or a recording-capable MP3 player with a "Line In" port.
- Source where there is no church sound system and no video recording. - You can use:
- An digital recorder or MP3 player with recording capabilities, using the internal microphone (if it has one). However, relying on an internal microphone in these devices will typically not result in high quality recordings.
- An MP3 player with recording capabilities, using its "Line In" port to capture the audio. Depending upon the type of input on the recorder ("mic level" or "line level"), you may need not only an external mic, but also a small mixer board and connecting cables.
- A microphone connected to a computer (possibly run through a mixer board).
- Source being recorded to video
- If you are steaming a live video feed of your service over the Internet, then some streaming providers may allow simultaneous separate recording and archiving of the audio portion of live events.
- If you are video-recording the sermon to a digital medium (Internet stream archive, DVD, computer hard drive, etc.), then it is possible to extract the audio from the video usinga special small software program designed only for that purpose (available for free on the Internet: [URL needed]), or even video editing software (remember: the source content is a video). However, this process is a bit more tricky than simply recording the audio by itself in the first place.
Podcasting often does not require sophisticated or expensive microphones for recording, unless you are trying to capture an entire worship band. If your source environment is a studio(e.g. your house), then simple USB microphones that plug into your computer will do quite well. One that comes highly recommended is the Plantronics DSP 400. It is a portable headset that provides nice recording quality. If you want to go a little higher end and give your voice a little "richer" more dynamic quality, you might want to look at Snowball Mic from Blue.
Audio Mixing Boards
Podcasting doesn't require much in the area of mixers. Very low end mixers from Behringer, M-Audio or Alesis will do the trick. In the past the WELSTech podcast used the Alesis MultiMix 8 Firewire mixer. The firewire component allows us to send different channels directly to the computer where Adobe Audition records them on different tracks. This makes things really easy for later editing.
Software for Recording and Editing Audio
If you are podcasting or want to record any audio directly to your computer, there are a number of software programs that do a nice job of facilitating this. The most popular free resource for Mac or PC is Audacity. It has basic editing features and is very easy to use. Many of those who record podcasts in the synod use this. If you are a Mac user, you of course have the built in Garageband application that works nicely for all kinds of recording. Even if you use a simple recording device, you will probably still want to use editing software, at least to clean up the start and end points of the audio file.
- Capture a digital recording on a recording device.
- Copy the audio file to your computer from the recording device.
- Crop the file down to get just the sermon or other desired audio.
- Add ID3 metadata tags (title, artist, etc.) so that that info shows up when played in various MP3 software. In some software, this might not be possible until you get to your Export dialog.
- Save/Export in MP3 format (which requires the LAME plug-in in Audactity).
- Upload to your church web site or other web server.
Case Study: Sermon Podcast
For several years, CrossWalk Church in Phoenix, AZ had been sending a feed from their analog live audio mixer to an MP3 recorder. Audio was then edited in Garage Band (Mac) and uploaded to the website.
Since 2014 Fall, CrossWalk Church have been recording directly to a USB flash drive from their live digital audio mixer (Behringer X32, format = .wav, mono, 48 kHz, 16-bit). Files are then saved to a special shared folder in Dropbox (dedicated to weekly audio podcast production), where trained persons on their Audio Team can edit/mix/master with intros/outros in Audacity (Windows, Mac or Linux). The MP3 product (mono, 48 kHz, 80 kbps, crest factor 18-21 dB) is then uploaded to the church website, which has players built-in. The original files (large WAV things!) are purged on a weekly basis. The original MP3 products are copied to an archive outside the weekly Dropbox folder, and purged from the weekly Dropbox folder about 2 months after production.
Additionally, CrossWalk does a weekly video podcast for the sermons. Audio for the video podcast is fed from an analog output of the live digital audio mixer at the Audiomix (with compression & limiting to keep crest factor <= 24 dB) to the video podcast computer in Videoland. The guys in Videoland then set their own audio volume to something that makes sense on their own meters.