Recording Church Services

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Audacity is an excellent way to capture the audio of your weekly service, make sermon MP3's, or CD's. With a simple USB interface, your laptop computer can be used as a recording station.

A Music Mix

Before you record a worship service, make sure that you have the rights to record the music. Check with Church Copyright Licensing Corporation for more information on how to legally record and distribute music. The preacher's sermon is OK to record, because he/she is the copyright owner.

Many churches record simply using the "Main Out" of the console. If recording a mix, this usually gives very bad results, because any instruments that are not miked are not going to be in the recording. Instead, use a pre-fade aux send, or a group send, with the output going to the recording interface. This allows you to have a separate mix for the record. If you have a stereo aux send, you can pan stuff around, and be as creative as you like. Many USB interfaces have a monitor output, so that you can hear exactly what's going to be recorded.

Audience mics are a great way to make the recording mix sound more natural, especially if you are not able to mic all of the instruments. Your audience mic should NOT be sent to the main mix, only to the recording (and in-ear monitors).

There will also be much less reverberation in the recording; this is great for speech intelligibility, but your music won't sound as good. This is another reason to use audience mics to capture the ambiance of the room and environment.

Recording Sermons

If it is necessary to record from only one channel, you may use the direct out from the board, or an aux send. Connecting the console Main Out to your recording interface will give fair results, but will have all the noise from the other channels, as well as EQ, which may be undesirable for your recording.

Make sure you get the levels set right before the sermon, as not to change in the middle of your reording. Not too high, to avoid clipping. Make sure you save your recording when finished.

Converting to MP3

If you desire to compress audio for a website, or other purpose, make sure that you save the original, uncompressed copy so that you can fix any problems that you find later. MP3 audio can't be edited, without significant loss in quality. Also, make sure that the audio is compressed. Most churches use audio compressors, at least on vocal mics, but it's even more important for a recording mix.

Checklist for Recording Sermons

  1. Check levels, solo to verify the signal sounds good.
  2. Record
  3. Save your work in multiple locations for safety.
  4. Listen to the recording, compress the audio (using the compressor, on the Effects menu), amplify, crop, and fix any other problems.
  5. When finished, use the Metadata editor to create the ID tags
  6. Export, or Export Multiple
  7. If exporting to MP3, set the appropriate bitrate. A lower bitrate will produce smaller files, but with lower quality.