Raising the Bar with Improved Audio for your Live Stream via a Smart Phone

Many parishes today use a smart phone mounted on a tripod to broadcast their divine services to Facebook Live or YouTube Live. This is a fine introductory set up for parishes who are just getting started with Live Streaming. 

One often overlooked piece is the audio quality, though the audio is just as important, if not more important, than the video quality. The over-the-air audio that is captured by the on board microphone is not ideal, especially in large, often domed, churches where there is a lot of echo and reverberation. Many churches already have a sound system to amplify the clergy and church musicians, and it doesn't take much additional work or money to get an output from the sound system to input to the smart phone. 

This article will explain what you need to dramatically raise the bar and improve the experience for your parishioners and those who are tuning into your live stream. We are presupposing that your parish has a sound system already and that your clergy and church musicians are all properly mic'd. The following set up should cost you $250 - $300. 

Step 1: Output from your Sound System

Find the output on your church's sound system. It could be labeled as "line out", "monitor out", "tape out", "stereo out", "mono out", or more. 

Your sound system may have one of several different audio connectors - 1/4", 3.5 mm (1/8"), and XLR are the most common. The connection might also be mono or stereo. When we describe cable connectors, we also use the terms "male" and "female". If you are not familiar with audio connectors, check out this guide: https://www.cablestogo.com/learning/connector-guides/audio

You will want to buy a cable and any necessary adapters for your sound system's output on one end to a 3.5 mm (1/8") male connector on the other end. Cables and adapters can be purchased from a number of online vendors, including Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo & Video.

Please note: The products listed below are for reference and as an example only. We do not endorse any of the products or vouch for their quality. 

Here are some examples of cables you want to buy depending on your particular set up. Your set up may be different. 

Step 2: Transmit the Audio Wirelessly

Using a system such as the Rode Wireless GO Compact Digital Microphone System, an inexpensive and powerful wireless audio system, you can send the audio seamlessly from your sound system to your broadcast camera (the smart phone).

Buy the Rode Wireless GO System:

Take the 3.5 mm (1/8") male output and plug it into the Rode transmitter. It will send the audio to the Rode receiver (for step 3).

The Rode system uses internal battery power which can be charged after each service, but we recommend for convenience keeping these devices plugged in. You may want to buy two chargers, such as any from the following link: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=usb+power+block

Step 3: Connect Audio to Your Smart Phone

Most modern Smart Phones will need an adapter of some kind to be able to receive an audio input. We recommend two adapters, one to split the input from the phone (Lightning for iPhone and USB-C for Android), and then a second to split the audio input. This set up will allow you to keep your phone plugged in and charged during the broadcast.

a) Adapter 1: 3.5mm TRRS audio breakout: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XCXN6WY

b) Adapter 2 - Power/Audio Splitter:
- Lightning (iPhone): https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HLJV2ZM/A/belkin-35-mm-audio-charge-rockstar
- USB-C (Android): https://www.amazon.com/Moshi-Digital-Charging-Compatible-Supported/dp/B07LGP62JX

From the Rode Wireless receiver, using the provided 3.5mm (1/8") cable, you will plug the other end of the 3.5mm cable into the "microphone" labeled input on the TRRS audio breakout adapter. Then plug the combined side (3 black stripes) of the TRRS audio breakout into the Power Audio Splitter. Finally, plug the Power/Audio splitter into your phone.

Step 4: Test and Go Live 

You should now be all set! Be sure to test before going live and send us any questions you have!

To learn more about how to get started with Live Streaming in general, check out this article: https://support.goarch.org/-/live-streaming-quick-and-easy and other articles on this site.