[Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 4 part series: Podcasting Sermons]
Many Churches are putting their sermons online, but if you’re not a geek or very techy minded, it can be a scary thing!
In this four part series, I’ll be explaining the whole process. From the recording of the sermons, editing sermons and ‘MP3-ing’ them, putting sermons online, and then making them available to the whole world on a website and as a podcast through a feed at the iTunes store!
So, let’s start at the beginning, recording sermons.
There are different ways of recording sermons, including recording onto CD, using a digital recorder, recording straight into a computer and using a good old cassette recorder!
Recording onto CD
If you use a CD recorder in the Church for recording the services – great! To edit the CD (e.g. extracting just the sermons/readings) you’ll need to ‘rip’ the CD in a computer. Programs such as Windows Media Player (WMP) and iTunes (my favourite) can do this.
When ripping CDs, for this purpose, I recommend that you rip it to a .wav (PC) or .aiff (Mac) file. Warning: these files will be large (500mb+ for your average CD), but you will get the best quality for editing.
- How to import a CD into iTunes (For how to set the import file type in iTunes, see the ‘convert file’ link for iTunes below.)
- How to import a CD into Windows Media Player.
When you’ve got your big file, from the CD, you’re ready for editing!
Using a Digital Recorder
I use a digital recorder for recording sermons at my Church for podcasting. Some MP3 players have a built it ‘line in’ feature and you can use this to record the sermon. You can also get adapters that allow ‘line in’ recording into an iPod/iPhone.
Many small dictaphones have good line in recording facilities. I use an Olympus VN-5500PC for recording in my Church. (The VN-6000 is the current equivalent of this model.)
The best way to use a digital recorder is to plug it into an output on a mixing desk. Most mixing desks have ‘aux’ or ‘send’ outputs. If you can plug the recorder into one of these, you should get a good quality. You might need some adapter cables to make the connection. It’s hard to say what you’ll need because it depends on how you’re going to be plugging it in! Some line ins (and digital recorders) can be rather sensitive, so demo recordings are a must!
Digital Recorders ‘encode’ the audio into a variety of formats including MP3, WMA (Windows Media Audio) and WAV.
You’ll firstly need to download the file from the digital recorder onto your computer (normally done using a USB cable).
If you’ve got a WAV file, you’re ready for editing (and the next ‘Editing’ post in the series)! If you’ve got an MP3 or WMA file, it might well be worth converting them to a WAV/AIFF so you get the best quality audio for editing.
You can convert the files in a similar way to the CD using Windows Media Player or iTunes. I can’t find an easy way to convert file types within Windows Media Player, if you know of a way, please leave a comment!
How to convert a file in iTunes. I think iTunes is the easiest way to do the conversion. (If you’re on a Mac and have WMA files, you can use the free Miro Convertor to convert them to MP3s that Garageband can edit – this is what I do!)
Once you’ve got your WAV/AIFF (or MP3) file, you’re ready for editing.
Recording Straight onto a Computer or using a Cassette
These methods are could be seen the most ‘techy’ (recording straight in) and the most basic (the tape), yet strangely there are quite a few similarities between them.
For both, you will need a way of getting the audio into the computer. Most computers/notebooks have ‘mic’ sockets on them. You can use these, but they are normally only mono and the quality can be rather ‘buzzy/crackly’! If your computer has a ‘line in’ socket, this is much better and they’re often in stereo. These sockets are normally 3.5mm/ 1/8″ (headphone size).
Other alternatives include soundcards (where you take the computer to bits to install them!) and external USB and FireWire ‘audio interfaces’. These will often give you better control and quality but can cost more.
One of the most popular, and simplest, external ‘boxes’ is the Griffin iMic. It’s got in and out 3.5mm jacks and plugs into the computer by USB.
Behringer also make a simple and very affordable USB interface which has got RCA/ Phono imputs rather than a 3.5mm jack. This could be just what you want if you’re connecting from cassette desk or stereo output from a mixing desk. The Behringer UCA202.
Again, you’ll need some cables to connect things. But without know what you’re plugging from and to, it’s hard to recommend things.
To record either directly or from a tape, you need some software to capture the audio.
You need to either play the tape, or get the direct line and record it ‘live’ into the software. This is a good guide for Audacity.
These are good basic guides for Garageband: Configuring iMic, but it’s the same for most audio inputs; Basic recording in Garageband.
If you have to use the ‘mic’ socket, especially in Windows, be careful with options such as ‘microphone boosts’ as this can lead to distortion!
When you’ve recorded your tape/direct line, you should have a nice file (it’s a good idea to save it as a ‘project’ in either Audacity or Garageband) that’s ready for editing.