New Audacity Setup - recommendations?

Up till recently, we have been recording our Church services using a Marantz Pro CD recorder. It’s time to go digital and we recently tested things out with some success.

Our mixer is an Allen & Heath ZED-24. We’d use the USB output from the mixer board, so whatever we use needs to have a USB port compatible with a Type A-B USB connection.

There are no plans to do anything other than record Stereo (read: no splitting out channels and so forth…I realize that would require a different mixer). One thing that we do need is the ability to quickly produce a CD from the system running Audacity - given the fact that we had the Marantz Pro, a CD could be finalized and ready for duplication within less than a minute or two. We also post up our recordings to our website’s podcast for streaming and downloading to listen to.

Given this, I’m looking for some recommendations for the system we ought to look at for running Audacity. Should it be a desktop, laptop, mini form factor, or? Is there an advantage/disadvantage to running Mac vs. Windows? Is one operating system have more support for Audacity and Allen & Heath vs the other? It’s apparent that running SSD ought to be better than a typical spinning HDD - what about other components? Size and speed of memory/RAM? CPU speed and number of cores?

Any feedback or help with this is greatly appreciated!

For unrepeatable events, I would stick with dedicated recording devices, (plural),
rather than rely on audio-software running on a computer.

Even if Audacity was rock-solid, the Operating System & hardware it’s running on may not be.

“Allen & Heath” also make recorders, (I’ve not used them myself though).

Thank you, Trebor. The one issue we are having with the dedicated recording device is that eventually it becomes dated, so to speak, and you cannot upgrade the components. Case in point, the the Marantz recorder we have is from the time when they had you choose between CD-R Data and CD-R Digital Audio. We don’t have that anymore and some of the newer CD’s will not work properly with the recorder. Yes, getting an updated one will resolve this, but we shouldn’t have to buy an entire new dedicated device. Sure, we would have to do this if we purchased a laptop, but that is not the case with a PC/desktop/workstation.

So, are you saying that if the event is in a single location (read: non mobile) then it is best to get a dedicated recording device and not a PC/laptop?

For reliability a dedicated recording device is better than a PC/Laptop.
I’d be chewing my fingernails down to my knuckles if I had to record an unrepeatable event on a device that could easily crash.

You could replace your CD recorder with device(s) that record(s) to a USB memory-stick / SD-card instead,
e.g. this sort of thing … , ( it has battery back-up if the power fails ).

I agree with what you are saying…I just thought maybe something like a Mac laptop/desktop and Audacity would be more than reliable.

So, if it is a dedicated device, which no longer writes to CD-R’s, what’s the fastest way to get the recording to a CD?

Reason I’m asking is that though our younger generation goes to our website and streams the recordings or subscribes to the the podcasts, we have a lot of people in the Church who still require CD’s. I’d need a quick way to get the USB/SD-card recording burned to a CD so our CD duplication team could have it within minutes. Does this mean I need to have some dedicated workstation, still, to burn a CD or is their a dedicated device that will allow me to burn CD’s from a USB/SD-card?

Thank you so much for all of your help! I greatly appreciate it!

This is a broadcast recording I shot. The setup on the left is Audacity on a Macbook Pro with a sound mixer and microphone.

It’s two recordings. The setup on the right is the client’s own stand-alone recorder—or most of it. He started to tear it apart before I could stop him. We double recorded the performance. Both recordings succeeded. The client/radio station used mine.

This doesn’t have to be an insane exercise in studio production. Leave an iPhone running in Voice Recorder parked near one of the speakers. If the computer goes into the toilet, you have a working, lesser quality sound track.


I don’t know that there is a computer maker preference. I’ve used both and the Macs think like I do, so converting from Windows was no effort. What are you using now, what is your comfort?

Get an SSD. You may have less and less choice over this. They’re very stable, fast as can be and have none of the physical frailties of spinning metal. I accidentally put a magnet down on an older laptop once and quietly and efficiently reduced the spinning metal hard drive to garbage.

There used to be size restrictions, but I have a new Mac Mini with a TByte of SSD.

In an effort to harden themselves against attacks, both Macs and Windows machines have made simple recording more difficult. That’s just the way it is.

I would use a stand-alone recorder, given the option.


If you decide on something, run it by here before you write the check.

“You understand this is the laptop model that likes to burst into flames on Thursday?”


Thanks for all the ideas/suggestions and recommendation, Koz. Looks like the same as what Tebor shared.

I think I have some idea of what I’ll do but I have a gap right now which being able to get the recorded audio to a CD to begin creating duplicates in a matter of 2-3 minutes. I’ve been looking for something on the market that would do a SDXC card to CD recording, but haven’t found anything. Everything keeps pointing back to a computer with an SDXC card slot and a CD-R burner driver on it. That would mean that I’d be capturing the main recording on a $300 dedicated device and then turn around and still need a PC to begin duplicating. I’m with you on any PC having its issue and potentially being a single point of failure, but isn’t there a better way?

Thanks again!

Have you tried a laser-lens-cleaner disc on the CD recorder to see if that cured the problem ?. (~$10).

[ I haven used one of those things in over a decade ].

Isn’t this where the burner has “an accident” and until you get it fixed, you’ll post the work on the church’s web page.

It might be said that you should be real-time live-streaming and then catch up with the on-line posting. You’ll have the CDs available next Sunday.


:slight_smile: We actually have tried that and it’s not that…it’s the CD-R’s that it will and won’t recognize. Without trying all sorts of brands until we figure it out there is no clear way to know which CD brand works and which doesn’t or if there are any that do now that the Sony CD-R Data ones are discontinued.

Agree, Koz…and we know that eventually we will only provide online access to the recordings. At least with a burner I can go a new one and replace it.

I’d LOVE to do real-time live-streaming straight from the Church. Unfortunately, our Internet is VERY low bandwidth (read: it’s Hughes Satellite service and is less than 256kbps connectivity up or down. Hence, until we get better Internet service, we must record to removal media that we can get to better internet service.

Have you considered distributing the recordings on thumb drives? Small capacity thumb drives are available from about $1 each, and are quicker, and usually more reliable, than audio CDs.

now that the Sony CD-R Data ones are discontinued.

I think the manufacturing plant was discontinued. Wasn’t it in the path of the Fukushima disaster? I was a Sony user.

Not that long ago I supplied a music CD to a server at a local restaurant. I wondered how he was playing them. He pointed at his pickup truck.


That would be cool, but again, the CD’s are where the older generation and attendees have come up to and expect recordings to be available. VERY few do use the online podcasts and I’d venture to say that if we handed out thumb drives they would wonder how it will play in their car or on their mini CD boombox at home. I just don’t think the Church is at a place that we can drop CD’s.

Yup…so long as vehicles still have a CD player in them we will always need to provide a CD for attendees to play them. It’s only been within the last 10 years or less that you cannot purchase a new vehicle with a cassette tape player and/or CD combo. It will be a bit longer before we can say goodbye to the CD media.

Burning CDs takes time. How many CDs are you wanting to hand out, in what time frame?

There’s a CD player in Lori ( my lorry).

I have a replacement unit with other connections, but digging into the dashboard is a major event.

Step one: Remove the steering wheel.

I’m only exaggerating a little.


Actually, we have that down and handled. We have two CD duplicators that crank out about 6 copies in less than 5 minutes.

Today, with the old Marantz, it only takes about 2 minutes or less from the time we stop recording to the time we hand the CD off to be duplicated and fulfilling requests for CD’s.

Switching to the new, more modern version, like the Tascam in prior post that was suggested, now means I’ve got to take the recorded SD-memory card and convert it to a CD that then gets duplicated. As Koz pointed out, another point of failure, another device or thing you must have and a new step that now extends the overall process.