With many churches now live streaming or video recording worship services, tech crews are discovering that microphones in the sanctuary usually don’t provide the desired organ sound for the video being streamed or recorded.
We’ve been getting calls asking if there is a way to get a “line out” audio feed directly from the organ console. The answer is: YES.
Most Rodgers and Johannus organs have stereo line-level outputs located under the keyboards:
- Rodgers: look for the small panel with a number of connections either on the left or right side under the keyboards. There are two 1/4″ mono phone plug outputs for Line Out Left & Right (stereo). (Note: a few Rodgers models do not have a line out–see footnote below).
- Johannus: look for the small panel on the left side under the keyboards. There will be either a single mini stereo phone plug output or two RCA outputs (stereo Left & Right).
Connecting the organ line out to an audio board/mixer requires converting the high impedance (hi Z) output of the organ to low impedance (lo Z) of the microphone inputs at the mixer. Use a “direct box” as follows:
- Use audio cables with appropriate connectors (1/4″ phone plug or RCA) plugged into the organ going to the Direct Boxes–this cable should be relatively short, less than 10′
- XLR microphone cable from the Direct Box to your sound board/mixer that is feeding the live stream
Click here to see an example of a Direct Box.
Click here to learn more about the function of a Direct Box.
Sound Quality Tips
- The line out on a Rodgers organ is stereo. Preserving the stereo signal will enhance the sound of the organ for the live stream listeners.
- If the line level is too low, there are settings in the organ that control the output level that might need to be increased. Please call us for assistance–we can probably step you through the process over the phone.
- Please note that the reverb settings in the organ affect the line out. If your sanctuary has reasonably good acoustics, the reverb settings may be very low or even turned off. This will result in the line out signal being “dry” (little or no reverb), which does not sound natural–NOT good! You can either add reverb in your mixer board (if possible) or adjust the reverb configuration in the organ to provide the desired level of reverb. This is easy to do–we can assist you over the phone if necessary. Increasing the amount of reverb (both length and/or volume) may result in the live sound of the organ in the church having too much reverb. In a Rodgers organ, this can be adjusted so that the line out has the higher level of reverb needed, while the speakers in the sanctuary have a lower level or no reverb as desired. Please contact Church Keyboard Center to make these adjustments.
- If your sanctuary has good acoustics for music, a very natural organ sound can be achieved by setting up good microphones to capture the “live” organ sound in the middle of the room (not close to the speakers) and mixing it with the feed from the organ line out. Experiment with the balance between the two (and the position of the microphones), using the line out feed for clarity and the live feed to create the natural sense of hearing the organ live in the church. (Note: if your sanctuary has a relatively dry acoustic, this additional effort may not yield useful results–stick to the line out feed using the internal reverb system in the organ).
Some Examples of Good Recorded Organ Sound
Here is a demonstration video of the new Rodgers Imagine organ recorded using only the line out signal with reverb. Note how even a modest amount of reverb creates a sense of hearing the organ “in the room.”
This video was recorded entirely with microphones capturing the live sound in the room, including a microphone for a singer. Note the mix balance between the organ and singer.
We recorded this video in the Church Keyboard Center showroom in 2011 using a combination of line out (which includes some digital reverb) mixed with live microphones. The final result is intended to sound like it is in a church considerably larger than the 20′ x 30′ room it was recorded in.
Note for Rodgers organs that do not have a line out
The headphone jack can be used. Use a cable with a 1/4″ stereo plug. Plugging into the headphone jack silences the organ speakers, so you will need to use a splitter so that the organist can still use headphones to hear the organ. Alternatively, use a powered monitor speaker for the organist and other participants to hear the organ. Note that this is not a viable arrangement for recording a live service with attendees, since the main organ speakers need to be heard. Some engineering will be required to provide a proper “line out” signal for recording purposes.
Note for hybrid pipe organs