I am the sound engineer at my church. You need these things:
1. External USB (or Firewire) sound card from M-Audio or Edirol.
2. Cables connecting either a free mixer aux out or main out to the sound card (1/4" balanced is preferred).
3. Software, in order of good to best: Audacity (free) w/ LAME mp3 encoder Syntrillium CoolEdit <-- I use this. Sony SoundForge Adobe Audition
4. Sound Formats After extensive testing, I prefer the mp3PRO format with a VBR-100 setting. Compared to a standard MP3 at CBR-128Kbps setting, the mp3PRO will be 30% smaller and have the same fidelity. AND it is compatible with MP3 players.
For all the above software, record as a raw WAV file (Audacity uses a different raw sound format. Then convert to the format of your choice. CoolEdit and Audition natively support mp3PRO. For other software, I suggest using an old MusicMatch Jukebox 10 to do the conversion.
5. Computer Any old Pentium 3 laptop w/ Win2K or WinXP will do.
We use our bog-standard built in sound card and Audacity, and this has worked a treat for many a year at our Church. Yes we may get a bit of hiss and crackle but since we just upload to the web in 24-bit mp3 format, we're not looking for audiophile sound quality!
The thing I've found though is regardless of age, the hardware has got to be 100% working. We've recorded onto a couple of computers that work fine for day to day use, and worked fine for recording for a few weeks, but then the computer inexplicitly started to freeze part way through recording, requiring a hard reboot. Definitely hardware, cos got the same problem on one machine both under Windows and Linux!
Re: external sound card vs internal sound card.
There are 4 things to consider:
1. Quality. In my testing, I've found that in general, built-in soundcards on desktop PCs work fine. However, the built-in soundcards in laptop PCs are noticeably lacking in fidelity. External soundcards start with much higher fidelity (A/D converters) to begin with.
I've tested many on-board soundcards and decided fidelity was the way to go. I personally own 2 M-Audio external USB soundcards. Recordings are crystal-clear.
2. Ground loop hum. In some instances, I've seen a built-in computer's soundcard introduce a 60Hz ground loop hum. This cannot happen with an external USB soundcard powered via USB.
3. ASIO and WDM drivers. Standard WDM drivers usually introduce 100ms+ of delay when monitoring. ASIO drivers have <20ms of delay. This doesn't matter if you're using Audacity or some doing some run-of-the-mill 2-channel recording w/ WDM drivers, but in case you're composing some music, ASIO drivers w/ the appropriate multi-track recording software is the way to go. External pro-grade soundcards offer WDM and ASIO drivers. Only some mid-high-grade SoundBlaster cards offer ASIO.
4. Usability. External soundcards usually have a nice gain knob so you can adjust the recording level. Most also have an 1/4" insert jack so you can analog compress a recording. When you're strictly using an on-board soundcoard, you don't get that nice gain knob. And if you do try do compress the sound digitally after the recording is done, you'll fine that the quality just isn't as nice as a $250 dbx 166XL unit. Don't dismiss that nice gain knob -- it's essential.
Audacity has the ability to remove noise. Simply start recording before the person speak to find a sample of noise. Then remove it from the audio after the recording. Works quite well.
See here for more: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Noise_Removal
We are a small church and have been recording sermons for 7 years now. We initially used a cassette deck, but quickly switched to using the computer not only to record, but to play audio including CDs. Though we primarily record sermons from the pulpit, we've had need to record other events such as special music or presentations.
Software - There are now many full-featured freeware/open-source applications, however we started using the WaveEditor included in Nero Burning ROM and have stuck with it. We needed something that not only recorded, but also allowed easy editing such as cleaning up the beginning and end. Additionally, we needed the ability to save/convert to WAV, MP3, and WMA formats. We also used the software to clean up the sound when we've had mike problems. Though not used on a regular basis, we've used wavosaur and Audacity and the free edition of WavePad. We use a spreadsheet to track all our recordings and a simple naming method to catalog 6 years worth of recordings on a 200 Gbyte drive (20100124A1.wma - is the 1st recording in the AM service on Jan 24, 2010)
Computer Hardware - We're on the 2nd computer in the sound booth, and both used the internal sound from RealTek HD. We've NEVER had any problems with static or noise. We pipe the sound in throgh the Line-In and pipe it out a simple splitter to two channels on the sound board for easy control of "split tracks" at the sound board.
Sound Harware - We use a Behringer 1832FX sound board with 2 sub-channel outputs in addition to a monitor and stereo main outputs. We use one sub-channel to go to our PA amp which powers speakers in our lobby and nursery and the other sub-channel to our computer. We purchased a "boundary" mike (Nady CRM-40) to pick up ambient sound in the worship area. This mike is not fed back into the house sound, but feeds the sub-channels to give those not in the room (and the recording) a better sense of what it sounds like in the room. That way the recording (and PA) also has the piano and congegation sound instead of just a worship leader's voice in the mike.
We use an external sound card and Audacity on a laptop. Thats the easy part, the hardest part is getting the mp3s to the webmaster, we use USB keys, but these quite often get lost in the loop!
We have a separate recorder hooked up to the mixer. A Tascam cd-rw700. We have to prepare ours for radio broadcast on a local station and use Audacity for that after ripping. We also have to get it ready for the web site and I use MP3Tweak and then MP3 Directcut after ripping. All free software and of course needs ripped from cd first. Since I use Linux I use Grip. MP3Tweak and MP3Directcut are Windows based. For the radio broadcast we use 128/44 using Audacity. 26 minute broadcast comes out to about 25 meg. For the web site, MP3Tweak at 32/44.1. Sermon comes out to around 8 meg. Not hard drive recording, but pretty easy.
I use a Creative Nomad Jukebox 2. It's a hard drive based mp3 player with a decent recording function. It records in mp3 which I then download to my PC. Using Audacity (free audio software) I trim it so it's just the sermon and record an intro.
I could record directly to the PC but I prefer using a second device as it'll keep recording in the event of my PC crashing.
Plenty of MP3 players will record, and given you're recording voice the quality doesn't have to be particularly good.
We have used audacity on a Shuttle SFF PC for years, the sound is excellent. We use audacity's export feature to save the mono signal in the FLAC format file. Zero loss in fidelity, and I can store an awful lot of them on a hard drive.
We use and old PC with Ubuntu and Audacity to record. Using the same soundcard to play audio (tracks for vocalist, sermon starters etc) has caused us trouble with the laptop that we use. It just has a simple stock sound card. Granted, if you were wanting to record music I would use a better card but we record in Audacity then upload to our website and the sound quality is very good.
Granted ... we currently only run on Windows so I want to find light-weight software that is cross platform (Linux is more stable) so I will review the other software listed ... however:
We use MP3Directcut as it is light-weight & simple to use. It also writes directly to the hard drive which means if the PC crashes the message thus far is on the hard drive and not lost! If you are writing to CD, which is becoming less frequent for us, MP3DirectCut will split the file at pauses to create indexes on your CD (fortunately too most preachers/teachers pause between points)
Audacity is good, but it's a good deal more resource intensive and takes a whole lot more screen space. A pity the old Audacity remote project stopped as it was nice to have simple controls with the VU meter.
Regarding noise elimination ... I find that if we use and maintain good signal cable there is no significant noise and I find no noise makes the preaching sound artificial. Oh and lastly ... I find the onboard sound card adequate with down sampling to CD or web quality it is perfectly acceptable. Only when you are doing a lot of post-processing (effects or digital compression) does an external Audio interface make a difference. Also remember that most people are listening to audio on everyday players and not hi-fidelity sound systems like some music connoisseurs.
Denver CO USA
I use LoopRecorder to record the service. It alows quick start and end edits / Fade in and outs. It also allows you to process a segment of recorded audio while another is still recording. It is available from www.looprecorder.com. I run a lot of other apps on my laptop at the same time and Audacity was causing slow downs.
When recording to a laptop computer, if you hear a hum, it's either caused by the signal chain ground loop or by the laptop computer's AC charger.
If the former is the cause, then you need to either use an external USB audio sound card and/or run balanced connections. If running unbalanced, sometimes a DI box can break the ground loop.
If the latter is the cause, then run the laptop from batteries only.
It´s right, that in theory a simple onboard sound should be ok. In fact it is good enough in most cases. Even through there is a big difference between sound interfaces. I compared a laptop onboard sound with a external professional USB sound. For both devides there is a nicely leveled input without any ground loop.
The professonal sound input sounds even much clearer after compressing to 32kBit/s MP3. I don´ t know what the onboard sound is doing different, but it still should be linear. So I guess the effective dyncmic of the analog parts before the 16Bit A/D are quite bad. The USB card has 108dB dynamic range and the noice the second least segnificant bit of the 24Bit ADC is usually fixed.
In my experience, onboard soundcards on a desktop computer sound pretty good. In contrast, laptop soundcards sound pretty bad. This is very obvious with music, and less so with voice-only. The more complex the analog signal, the more difficult time the A/D converter has.
To test the quality of the sound, you must burn an audio CD (i.e. 44.1kHz WAV) from the recording. Then you must play it back on a high quality stereo system or a high-quality sound card via $200 Sony HD headphones.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
M-Audio Quattro: 10M-Audio USB FastTrack Pro: 8Tascam U-112: 6desktop sound card: 5laptop sound card: 3
What differences do I hear?1. headroom2. clarity3. dynamic range4. low background noise
Oh yeah, if you record sound via a laptop soundcard and play it back on the same laptop, you're fooling yourself. Laptop soundcards have sonic limitations on recording and playback. You can't hear the limitations if you record and playback on the same poor soundcard.
It is easy to use, you should download and install it. Then launch and choose the mode, and take screenshots for what you want.
In addition, you can easily use it to capture computer audio or video on your computer without lag. Therefore, it can be a suitable game screen recorder or music record on computer for users.