Church Recording is a difficult subject. Therefore, I will take several lessons to discuss this in detail. This is installment #1, the introduction.
Why is this such a difficult subject? Because there are so many different reasons and potential goals of recording in church. Here is my short list:
- Record the service for those who aren’t there (or are in the rest home).
- Record the sermon for archival purposes
- Record the sermon to put up on the Web Site
- Record the music for people to listen to during the week or for the web
- Make a CD of the church music for distribution to those inside the church
- Make a CD of the church music for distribution to visitors or outside the church
Now, when you look down this list, you may think that there are several that look the same. Well, they are very similar, but the approach you use to make the recording will be completely different. The techniques and equipment you use will vary widely depending upon:
- The sound quality required
- The stated audience
- Personal Preference (of you and others)
- Your Budget
I have thought about writing this lesson for a long time, trying to figure out how to approach it because it is such a broad subject. To the “non technical” individual, it seems simple. Just hook a cassette tape or digital recorder to the mixer and record what comes out. Viola. A Recording.
But, it’s not that easy. If you take that approach, you will end up with a low quality recording that no one will really want to set down and listen to. I’ll explain why later.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have the “Professional” approach. That is, you hook up a dedicated multi-channel recorder that is connected to all of the individual channel inputs and record every audio source individually and add a few additional mics to record the “ambient” sound from the auditorium. Once you have the raw channels recorded, you take the recordings back to a studio and to a professional mixdown session and master the final mix. This will give you a great product … and either cost you a fortune to produce or take many, many hours of your (or someone’s) time.
Many churches will take the first approach, at least initially, until they discover how bad a recording can actually be. Very, very few will take the later approach due to cost and time considerations. Ultimately, however, most churches will settle into something that is somewhere between those two extremes and may take different approaches depending upon the reason and expected use of the final recording.
As it so happens, I am in the middle of recording our worship band in order to make a CD. We anticipate this CD going to those already in our congregation, not trying to distribute outside of that group. So, I will have lots of insights into our process, but into the recording process as a whole.
I anticipate that this will be a long series … probably at least 5 lessons … but more likely 10. Stick with me and you will have a good resource for your project!