Recording Software for Church Services

There are so many churches out there and most of them are trying to reach more people. Many churches don’t have the staff to regularly record their services, so they need to be extra careful when they do choose to record. This is why I’ve come up with a list of the best recording software for church services.

Whether you are starting a new church and want to record meetings, planning on setting up your own sound system or just want to learn more about church audio recording software, take this information seriously. This article will help you decide which recording software is best for your church.

Many churches have been making recordings of sermons, live events and worship services for a long time. Back in the day, you may have recorded onto cassette tape or onto CD, to be made available to people perhaps aren’t able to get out to church. Now in the age of digital recording, a whole host of opportunities have been opened up, such as being able to download an mp3 file from a church website, or subscribe to a worship podcast on iTunes, sermon recordings podcasts, or even listen in on Youtube or Facebook live.

Audio equipment – using a handheld digital recorder

There are a  number of different manufacturers that produce these such as Marantz and Tascam, but I personally use the Zoom H2N which has a built-in mic and the sound quality is excellent and is very easy to use. I’m actually on my second one, and have the recently upgraded version. It’s definitely worth thinking about if you are looking for just voice recording equipment and don’t need to record music from your service.

Most of these low cost portable digital recorders are stereo only, although the one I use is a 4 channel quadrophonic recorder i.e. it records sound across 360 degrees. They also typically come with some form of removable storage,  usually a SmartMedia card, which allows recordings to be read from a USB card reader and transferred to a computer. These devices are great for recording sermon audio or a whole church service, including worship team.Some also have micro USB connectors so that you can connect to a PC or laptop direct.

Suitable external microphones

Another option if using a portable recorder is that on most models, you can plug in an external microphone. One model that is popular among churches is the CA14 cardioid microphone. Another is the Shure MVL which is a high quality lavalier mic. There are of course many other mics and some that are perhaps better if you are also recording video, such as the Shure MV88 microphone.

Church sermon recording gear and setup

To record church service audio, position the recording device just below face height of the preacher if possible up to 2 feet away – you might want to check out my church audio guide here. Check that the recording level is not too high for the “hell, fire and brimstone” parts and not to quiet for a more conversational style. You can, of course, do something about volume levels in post-processing, but if you can get the recording level right up front, it will help reduce noise and just result in better all round sermon recordings.

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For recording speech, a fairly low bit rate is ok for sound quality, as the spoken human voice has a lower frequency range than music typically. A male voice has a frequency range for speech from about 80Hz-300Hz and for a female, 150-400Hz. Of course the human voice is also rich harmonically, so to get a high quality sermon recording you do need a wider bandwidth than 400Hz! As a comparison, a telephone has an 8KHz bandwidth and CD quality music has a 44KHz bandwidth.

As far as bitrate is concerned I would tend to record at 44KHz bandwidth, 64kbps for mono speech and for stereo to maintain the same quality, 129kbps. If you want a higher quality mono recording of your pastor, then you can also do that at 128kbps for excellent results. It just so happens that these are also the bitrates recommended by the BBC for podcasting, and I think they know a thing or two about voice recording. For sermon podcasting, these settings should give good results, assuming you are using a quality microphone and good recording device.

Mac and PC

Audacity

Audacity 

A free, easy to use recording platform that will also help you with editing later in the process.
Cost:
Free If you would like to see the workflow of transferring files into Audacity, doing basic editing, and preparing your files for upload, check out my post “Sharing Sermon Audio, Part 2.

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition – If you are going to be doing a lot of this work and can afford it, I highly recommend Adobe Audition. I have been using this software since before Adobe bought Cool Edit Pro and renamed it. I find it more intuitive than Audacity and the workflows are smoother. Cost: $19/month or $239/year Mac Only

Garage Band

If you have a Mac, you have access to Garage Band. Apple’s software was designed for beginners so you can be up and running in no time. If you are just getting started, this is a great place to begin. Cost: Free

SlideDog

While not specifically tailored for it, SlideDog is used by more than a hundred Pastors and Church AV technicians for handling sermons and church services in the USA today. It offers great PowerPoint and media files compatibility, has an iOS/Android and web based remote, includes audience interaction features and is apparently a good enough church presentation software alternative for many people. SlideDog does not come with Bible or SongSelect integration, so content creators would have to add that to PowerPoint slides, videos or images themselves.Download SlideDog for free and give it a try!

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Price: $99 USD/year, free to try
Supported OS: Windows
Download: Windows Installer
Webpage: slidedog.com

OpenLP

An impressive and well maintained open source project with PowerPoint/LibreOffice Impress and VLC (open source media player) integration. Features a web remote and dedicated Android/iOS remote control apps. Comprehensive user manual and advanced support of network connected stage monitors. Supports bible and song import from a number of formats and sources. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux.Price: Free and Open Source
Supported OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
Screenshot: application window
Webpage: openlp.orgCapabilites:
– Presentations (PPT, PDF, Impress)
– Video & Audio (VLC Integration)
– Song, Bible & Pictures import
– Custom slides (announcements, etc.)
– Android/iOS Remote Control
– Confidence Monitor
– Web-based Stage View

OpenSong

Well maintained open source software application that focuses on management of lyrics, chords, lead sheets, bible verses and scriptures. Supports timed loops of slides with text and images. Allows you to keep track of a song’s title, author, copyright, ccli #, tempo, time signature, theme, focus, capo position, user defined fields, and more. Available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems and translated into several European languages. Has a dedicated companion desktop application for song importing from various formats.Price: Free and Open Source
Supported OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
Screenshot: application window
Webpage: www.opensong.orgCapabilites:
– API automation interface over HTTP and WebSocket
– Song, Bible & Pictures import
– Confidence Monitor
– Built in slide editor

BibleShow

As the name indicates, this is a Bible and scripture focused church presentation software. It describes itself as “a software solution for presenting Holy Scripture verses on any video display device connected to a personal computer running Microsoft Windows”. Comes with support for many bibles in many languages and allows for much customization of themes, backgrounds, fonts and more. Supports NDI (Network Device Interface) video monitors. Has a list of useful keyboard shortcuts and tries to set itself apart from others by offering to display any scripture using at most 3-4 mouse clicks. It also boasts being able to show 4 synchronized Bible verses on the same screen.Price: Free (accepts donations)
Supported OS: Windows
Screenshot: application window
Webpage: bibleshow.netCapabilites:
– Song & Bible import
– Confidence Monitor

Quela

Free and well maintained open source projection software for churches with a variety of import options, meaning you can easily migrate your existing content to Quela from other software such as EasyWorship, OpenLP and OpenSong. Multilingual user interface offering out of the box support for a separate stage/presenter view. Offers video background support in addition to static colors and images. Comprehensive manual and good support for setting up projectors. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux.Price: Free and Open Source
Supported OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
Screenshot: application window
Webpage: quelea.orgCapabilites:
– Presentations (PPT, PDF, Impress)
– Video & Audio (VLC Integration)
– Song, Bible & Pictures import
– YouTube & DVD
– Stage View (Android app)
– Video Background support
– Confidence Monitor
– Multilingual user interface
– Live quick edit of text/songs
– Recording of sermons/services.

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Song of Songs

Free church presentation software with a seemingly focus on song lyrics, but with lots more to offer once you look under the hood. It has Bible, PowerPoint and video support. It includes a browser based remote control, integration with OBS Studio for live streaming and offers the possibility to store your service in the cloud via DropBox, Google Drive or similar cloud storage provider. It’s available for Windows 7 and up and has an active community forum. They offer video tutorials on their website.Price: Free (accepts donations)
Supported OS: Windows
Screenshot: application window
Webpage: www.songofsongs.co.ukCapabilites:
– Presentations (PowerPoint import)
– Video & Audio (VLC Integration)
– Song, Bible & Pictures import
– YouTube Downlader
– Stage Monitor
– Confidence Monitor
– Remote Control
– Multilingual user interface
– Support for DropBox, Google Drive ++
– Show Twitter feeds

VideoPsalm

Free church presentation software with a vast amount of features. Highly customizable MS Office inspired user interface with support for displaying Bibles, song lyrics, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, picture slideshows, videos, and image galleries. Allows for displaying of music chords over lyrics. Its blog has tips on how to sync songs between multiple computers using Dropbox and how to add and use video loops. Available for Windows. Has a YouTube channel with fairly new and well produced getting-started videos.Price: Free
Supported OS: Windows
Screenshot: application window
Webpage: myvideopsalm.weebly.comCapabilites:
– Presentations (PPT, Impress)
– Video & Audio
– Song, Bible & Pictures import
– YouTube display
– Confidence Monitor
– Stage View
– Video Loops & Live Video Background
– Multilingual user interface
– Live quick edit of text/songs

Conclusion:

Church services may seem boring to some but there are people out there who make church more interesting by recording the sermons and uploading it on YouTube. The audio recording is important in a church so they can listen to it while driving, or in the office or at home. With this line of work, you need to consider different factors. The most important of which is the recording software for church services.

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