I know that many of you probably record directly into your PC/laptop/Mac/whatever.
However, I also know that not every church has plenty of space available for a full a/v and computer area. And a variety of options may be needed in places where the sound system is less than ideal.
For years, I've been using an old iRiver (iFP-895) mp3 player that also happened to have a 1/8" line-in jack on it. I may have used it as an mp3 player once or twice, and since then it has been dedicated to audio recording from my sound system. It has 512mb of onboard memory, and will record about 3.5 hours (at the settings I'm using).
The problem is that I can't get updated drivers for it, so I have this old computer that sits behind my desk... and I turn it on every week... simply to pull the audio recording off the iRiver, and transfer it to the new computer.
Anyway... all of this to say that I had recently started considering other options, and had narrowed it down to a line of Tascam recorders or a line of Zoom recorders. This is not a balanced review, because I haven't had a chance to test out the Tascam recorders.
However, the two young men who have been attending our church (and helping me get the podcast caught up!) have a Zoom H4N which they loaned me to check out.
I took it to church today and set it up next to our sound system, experimenting with the various settings, and adjusting the sound system aux-out levels to work well with it.
What a GREAT little recorder! It has two onboard mics (which are remarkably rugged), a 1/8" stereo miniplug, and two combo inputs (XLR or 1/4"). You can record JUST from the onboard mics, JUST from the miniplug, JUST from the combo inputs... OR you can combine the onboard mics with the combo inputs for a four-channel recording.
You could set this up close to the podium and simply use the onboard mics.
You could hardwire it to your system and adjust the auxiliary send.
You could setup a couple of microphones that DON'T go into your system, but just into the recorder.
Or... you could do what I think we will do... which is to record the AUX send (which will isolate the podium mic), and then use the onboard mics to pick up a little ambient noise... particularly if the sermon is at all interactive. They'll be able to mix those two feeds in post production... and it will work well.
The unit comes with an AC adapter... or you can use AA batteries.
It also has a tripod socket in the bottom... so you can attach it to a tripod or even a camera shoe (if you're doing DSLR video). OR... it comes with a handy little adapter that you screw on, and then it goes into a standard microphone stand.
It has a 2GB SD card for about 10 hours of recording... and it will take up to 32GB.
You could take it on the road as a fully portable recording system... or connect it to your system as a fairly permanent installation.
I didn't try it, but I understand that musicians could use it as a small 4-track recorder... or use the 4CH mode to record vocals and instruments all on their separate tracks for mixing in post production. It also has a built-in metronome and tuner. It also has a headphone jack and large LCD meter, so you can monitor what you're recording.
Anyway... I realize that the pricetag is a little steep... but there are other recorders in the zoom line which are cheaper. The Tascam line is also competitive.
You might consider this INSTEAD of a dedicated computer to do your recording--particularly since it's quite portable... and can function in situations where you might not want to bring your entire sound system.