Recording in Church - Where do we start

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by suburbanhousewife, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. We have a medium sized church about 400 max at each service and we want to start recording our services and special events like the Christmas pageant. I know there are several topics related to church recording but I'm looking for some real basic info. We have a decent sound system, our church is a half octagon shape with four speaker sets above the main section. We have carpet on the floors and a wood ceiling and walls. On most Sundays we have the choir and organ. On special occasions we will add soloist and other instruments, strings, flutes, harp, guitar etc...

    We do not have a sound engineer (me?), I'm tasked with providing our music director with a list of equipment we need to get started. Can we do this ourselves or do we need professional help? We want to be able to output to any format requested by members of the congregation (CD, tape, post to the website).
  2. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    IMO, you may consider hiring a professional remote engineer who has done these types of things before...

    There are too many expensive variables, and (as I'm sure you've encountered) too many people who know just enough to get everything messed up...

    Hire a pro to design and install a system to save money in the long run...mot necessarily from the local music store, they may be less than knowledgable about acoustics, equipment compatibility, gain staging, etc...
  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    You mention you have a decent sound sytem. Please remember that's only a start. It may help amplifying the necessary components for a service, but chances are it's not what you need for a good recording.

    For starters, you could always simply buy a CD recorder, and plug it into a spare "line out" of the PA system and hope for the best. But you may create more problems than you solve, once you listen to the results away from the church. It might not be what you expected if your goal is to capture music better than the spoken word portion of your services.

    If you can plan a budget to buy what you need, then you'll begin the process, and the fun has just begun. Most church sound systems I've been involved with take 2-3 years minimum to complete, from original need/concept to final completion. It's no joke: Committees get created, funding is wrangled over, designs get tossed about, contractors are often asked to get into bidding wars, designs get trimmed (budget, you see), and eventually, somehow, someway, the things get completed, albiet often with compromises. Very often, some of the folks who were involved in the original process are either gone or no longer interested.

    Even so, you may be able to sidestep all that and begin some good recordings of your group with basic gear right now. (Where do you live, btw? There are a lot of far-flung folks on never of our posters may be in your area.)

    At the minimum, you'll want a good stereo pair on your choir, a solo mic or two, and perhaps a spot mic for touch-up on your instrument (Piano, organ, etc.) You may be able to do a simple "Aux" mix from your existing mixer/console, or you may have to bring something else in for this task. Bottom line: 3 or 4 decent (budget mics), a simple 4 channel mixer and CDr could theoretically get you started for now.

    Sooner or later, though, someone (yourself, I'm guessing) is going to have to dive in any make the tough decisions: what to buy and install, what to live with for now, and how to grow your recording ministry there. You're not alone - this has already become a phenomenom all across the world. There are actually a few "pro" magazines out there now that cater to this market alone - Church Production magazine is one of them. Check it out if you can, and see what others are up to - you may be pleasantly surprised to find you're not alone here. It may help drive your fundraising efforst with the rest of you church members.

    And then when you get about halfway into all this, someone is going to ask you about video........

  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Yeah, I think these guys are dead on. Get someone in your area who has done this kind of thing to come out and help you. You'll find that the results will be far better and you'll likely spend far less money. (When people undertake this kind of thing on their own, they make costly mistakes. Fixing them costs far more than the initial consultation and small fee for installation of many of the more reputable pros in the industry.)

    I know that's not the answer you were looking for probably, but it's really the best possible solution.

    Where in the world are you? Someone here on the boards might be willing to lend a hand if they're close by.

  5. Ok, I'm in Austin Tx LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!! Basically everyone and their brother does recording and sound, thats part of the problem. Some church members own a legendary music store in town and thats why they are involved. So as far as equipment goes we get a big discount with them. They installed the sound system. Why don't I just go to them? We have had some problems with the sound system they installed. The clergy and lay assistants use Shure Uhf mics (we have four) We also have a handheld UHF. We have a mixer and four amps to drive the speaker sets attached to the ceiling of the sanctuary. They don't want us to touch the system and thats what I have a problem with. Nobody in our congregation has a clue how it operates. We have to put in a call when we need just minor adjustments. It would be great to find someone to help us set things up and show us how to use it.
  6. just2b

    just2b Guest

    I live north of you in Mansfield, TX and would be glad to discuss your sound needs. I have experience in church sound and recording. Send me an email and I will try to assist you.


    Edited to protect the innocent from Spam Bots (Cucco :cool: )
  7. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    One thing that's not clear to me is what level of quality you're looking for. We record every service at my church direct to a Tascam CD recorder tied into the P.A. system. I run signal through an Alesis 3630 (yeah, I know) compresser and squash it pretty good. Works well for this application and makes a very listenable CD. Special music, however, isn't very special. You can hear it fine, but it isn't something you'd play for enjoyment.

    For special programs I haul in all my recording gear - setup a number of mics specifically for recording - record the program multitrack - run noise reduction, etc - spend a number of hours working on the material to make a saleable CD.

    If you want a fair recording, hang a couple of Behringer ECM-8000 mics for stuff that isn't on the PA - otherwise record a PA output.

    If you want a GOOD recording, that's another matter and involves a lot more knowledge, experience, plus the time and place to do the mix work.

    Can you be a little more specific about your goals?

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