How to Record Sermon Audio for Your Website or Podcast
Recording the Message
I’ve helped several churches start recording the audio from their sermons to include on their website. The goal in each case is to get a quality recording that can easily be listened to online or downloaded through a podcast. Way back in 2007, I wrote a tutorial on how to setup a podcast. Although some of the info is a little dated, the basic procedure remains the same. I wanted to go back and share a few more details about how you get a quality recording that you can use for your website. This isn’t a detailed step-by-step tutorial, but it should get you pointed in the right direction. Here are a few options.
Option 1: Record audio on a CD
Our church has a rack-mounted CD burner (Click here for a comparable version of the Tascam recorder we have). We run one of our auxiliary sends from the soundboard to the CD-burner so we can mix it differently from the main speaker mix (we also record the music each week). Since we have a digital sound board (a Presonus StudioLive) we actually connect the soundboard to the recorder using a digital S/PDIF cable. This gives us great sound quality with no audio interference or hum.
Option 2: Record directly to a computer
Another option is to run a cable from your soundboard directly to a microphone or line-in jack on a desktop or laptop computer to record. Then using recording software such as the free program Audacity, you can record the message directly to a .wav file. After you finish recording, you can export the song as a mp3 file.
Option 3: Record using a handheld recorder
A final option is to use a handheld recorder like the Zoom H1 to record the message. You can record in several different ways. You can just start recording before the service and set it on the preacher’s podium and it will pick up great. The sound quality is amazing on this thing, and it is very small and inconspicuous. A second way is to hook a lapel mic to the handheld recorder and use the microphone to pick up the sound. The final way to record is directly from the sound board. It features a line-in jack so that you can run a cable straight from the sound board and record directly to the handheld recorder.
Importing/Exporting the Audio mp3 File
Once you have a recording, you will need to get it into a format for use on your website. I still recommend using mp3 files, so they are most compatible and work across the biggest range of devices.
Getting a mp3 file from a CD
I typically use iTunes to do this. I insert the CD into my computer and load up the iTunes program. If the CD contains multiple tracks, I use the Join Tracks command.
- Select the CD in iTunes
- Sort on Track #
- Select the consecutive songs you want to join
- From the CD menu, select Join CD tracks
- Enter in the artist name and album name
You can also set your beginning and end points of each track to trim your sermon from the CD. Once I do this, I click on the tracks I want to import and then I choose import CD. From the menu, I then choose custom settings for importing the file as a mp3. Click on the mp3 encoder, then custom. I choose 64 kbps and mono (which means the resulting audio mp3 file will actually be a 32 kbps file) After I import the file, you skip straight to uploading it to your website, or you can touch up the audio using the instructions below.
Importing a mp3 file from a handheld recorder or computer
This is the easy part. You should already have a .wav file or a .mp3 file. So you will just need to export it into a format that can be uploaded to your website. I recommend using the free program Audacity which is available on both Windows and Mac. Import your audio file into Audacity, and then you can touch up the audio a little before you upload to your website.
- trim the beginning and ending of the message
- If you have a stereo recording, go ahead and convert it to mono. For speech, stereo is not needed and will just add to the file size. In Audacity, go to Tracks —-> “Stereo Track to Mono” to do this
- Compress the audio using the Effects/Compressor option. Compression makes the soft parts louder, and the loud parts softer so that the volume level is more constant. If you are not familiar with compression, then you may want to read up on it, because this can really make a sermon easier to listen to.
- Normalize the Volume – go to effects/Normalize to raise the sound where it needs to be. If you have a lot of hum in your recording this can make it worse. In that case, you can play around with the Noise Removal effect in Audacity
- Export the audio as a mp3 file. Go to file/export and then choose mp3. You may have to do some setup work to get this to work, but Audacity will show you how to add the mp3 encoder. I have experimented and I like exporting sermon audio at 32 kbps in mono. This gives a small file size, and it still sounds good. If you go higher, the audio will sound better, but it will be at the expense of a larger file size which will take longer to upload and download.
Again, this is definitely not a comprehensive tutorial, but I wanted to get you pointed in the right direction. If you have any suggestions to add, feel free to leave a comment.