I have a new vaio laptop… 2 USB PORTS… 1 what looks like mic in jack. New to all this recording stuff… Was wondering if someone could help me try and record some preaching sat my church. What I need to do to record the speaking into the mic into sound board and get it to my laptop? I’m a noob please help…

If the mixer has a Tape Out, then this configuration should work OK. That’s a Behringer UCA-202 stereo USB adapter.

It’s almost a 100% certainty that you will not to be able to directly connect a mixer to your computer.

Mic-In is designed for this:


Or, if no tape out, use an aux out to feed UCA202

Whatever you do, make sure you try it out in advance. And, test it again right before the service.

Computers are the least reliable things we own, and I always “preach” against using a computer for recording anything critical when there’s no chance for “take two”. This is especially worrisome the 1st time, or if you don’t have a dedicated audio computer that doesn’t get messed-with during the day (or during the week)… I actually love using computers for audio, I just don’t trust my life to them!

You don’t have a lot of time… If you can set-up a desktop computer with a regular soundcard and line-in (connected to line-out from the mixer), that’s another possibility.

Other options are a cassette deck (if somebody has one), a VCR with only the audio connected (if somebody has one), or a CD or DVD recorder, or a video camera that has audio-input connections. You can get portable digital recorders, but the cheapest ones only have microphones and no way to connect to a mixer/PA system.

Or, if you are totally paranoid like me, you can set up the computer and one of these other devices recording in parallel as a back-up.

If you use one of these alternative recording devices, you may still want to transfer to computer for editing, copying, MP3 encoding etc. But, you won’t be in a time-crunch situation where you loose everything if something goes wrong.

Don’t forget the cables. You’ll probably need an adapter cable from the mixer to the soundcard. And if there is no “extra” unused output from the mixer, you’ll need a Y-Adapter (splitter).

Worst case, your laptop probably has a built-in mic. Ideally, you’d like to get that mic as close to the speaker as possible (just like the mic for the PA system). Or ears are directional, so our brain can ignore (or accept) room noise and reverb. But, if you record from your normal listening position, all of that room sound can become distracting when you play-back.

You can also try putting the laptop with it’s built-in microphone near the PA speaker. If you have to use the laptop’s mic and the preacher walks around with a wireless mic, that may be your only option.

They make some really nice “studio style” USB microphones. That’s a convenient way to get high-quality acoustic recordings if you can get the mic in the right location, or if you want some room sound such as when recording a choir.

Yes. I haven’t thought about that in a long time, but if you have 'HiFi" VHS machine, you can make a very good stereo recording with one of those. Make sure the “HiFi” system is activated and it’s running OK through the tape machine menu items. Some machines allow recording without video, some don’t. Experiment.

You will find it’s easy to tell when you’re playing the HiFi tracks as compared with the regular longitudinal tracks. The regular tape tracks sound like trash.

You will still need the UCA-202 to get the tape playback into your computer for editing and preparing for distribution. I assume that’s what you’re doing.

For a number of years, that VHS HiFi trick was the only way to get very good quality stereo recordings under $1000. The earlier machines actually had sound meters and a way to set levels, but the later machines insisted on doing it all itself. Those later machines had pumping bass notes and wandering noise. Those aren’t so good for mastering.

It could be said that the machine you use for recording should have an older, tested version of Audacity. The last thing you want is to be part of the “Always Something New” group that got the version which made your computer explode just before an important show.