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lbus1229's avatar

How to record a sermon and convert it to an mp3?

Asked by lbus1229 (338points) December 18th, 2008

We are trying to do a Podcast with the sermons at our church. Does anyone how to know what kind of equipment to use to record the sermon and then convert it to an MP3?

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7 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

On the Mac, Garage Band will create a podcast using the mac’s built-in mic (or video camera).

Windows-side, there are tons of free audio apps, unfortunately I can’t recommend any. You’ll need a USB microphone at the least.

dynamicduo's avatar

On the Windows side, I suggest using Audacity to record and possibly edit it, it is a free application and I’ve used it to record a full musical album, it has the power you need. Although I will admit that I use the pay software Adobe Audition to record and mix my audio because it has more features I need.

As for recording the audio, one of the easiest and best quality results I’ve found (I write/record/edit podcasts professionally) is using an iPod with a plug-in microphone. This site has more talk about the mics you can get as well as audio samples. This method is great because if someone has an iPod you only need to buy the plug in mic which isn’t too expensive, it’s very portable, and the sound quality is very good. The problems with this method include a lack of control over pre-processing the audio (such as turning up the volume), and one big problem is you can hear the iPod’s disc spinning up every now and then and there’s no real way to cut it out if you’re talking when it happens.

Another problem you might encounter here, and this is independent of any mic you could buy, is regarding the church’s acoustics – there might be an echo if your church is loud enough, or depending on what it’s made of, etc. It would be ideal if you could record the sermon in advance, in a closed and echo-dampened room (hanging blankets on the walls helps here, moving blankets are best if you have em). But I do understand that the sermon might be more passionate and thus more desirable if done in front of the churchgoers.

The next step up from the iPod/mic combo is a laptop/mic combo. I don’t use this type of mic setup so I can’t help you with this. The pros to this method include being able to back up your file immediately after recording (very important, trust me on this one), as well as monitoring the exact waveforms as they’re coming in, so you can turn the mic’s volume down if it’s too loud (audio that is too loud will cause clipping, which is when the waveform exceeds its maximum value and thus distorts the audio, there’s no real way to fix the audio and make it sound perfect when this happens). You also don’t get that iPod disc whining sound picked up… but depending on your laptop you may or may not hear its noises. One obvious problem with this approach is you need a powerful laptop which can record audio without skipping. One other problem is that most audio cards that come with laptop can only take one input signal in, so you can only use one microphone.

The best portable setup one can make is the following that I use for most of my podcasting. It is a set of professional microphones (Shure SM58) which plug in to a Eurorack mini mixer board, which plugs into this Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi external sound card, which plugs into my laptop’s USB port. Yes, it’s a lot of gear. But let me tell you, I can record the best quality audio in the worst conditions with this setup. We’re talking a noisy room with an air conditioner overhead, an elevator beside it dinging constantly, and coworkers coughing, and NONE of that gets recorded because the mixerboard lets me fine tune the parameters. I am super impressed with this setup, to me it is equivalent in quality to having a dedicated sound room, but with the benefits of portability.

Phew, long comment, feel free to ask any question you have about it or podcasting in general :)

PupnTaco's avatar

^ There you go, great answer.

lbus1229's avatar

If I use the iPod mic on my iPod, how will I then convert it to an MP3 file?

dynamicduo's avatar

It is saved as a WAV file in a certain folder in the iPod. You need to enable disc use on the iPod to access it directly, which can be done from inside iTunes. Then you can access its hard drive and browse for the recorded file (it’ll be in a folder called Notes or Audio Recordings or something similar, very obvious and not hidden). I recommend you enable disc mode before you record, according to this Apple guide it might be transfered automatically to iTunes, I’m not really sure what effect this has because I always have my iPods set with disc use on. I found this guide which contains good info regarding interviewing with an iPod, it contains some info you’ll need regarding enabling disc use etc.

Once its on your computer, you can edit it in Audacity (remove any large gaps of blank recording before and after the sermon, record yourself saying the title of the sermon and the date and add that in before the sermon, etc. You can also use Audacity to export the WAV file into an MP3 but you need to download this free encoder before. It’s all very easy though.

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