Audacity, 2 mics, record in mono? HELP pls.

Hi, I’m new to the forum (and new to recording period). So, sorry in advance if i seem completely computer illiterate…

At my job, I’ve been assigned the task of figuring out Audacity… I don’t know much about it but I’ve been doing some research… To give you some background on what I will need it for: I work for a company who produces audio cd courses. Basically, seminars recorded to cd. There are usually 2 people who record the seminars, meaning we need 2 mics. However, my boss would like to record in mono because the file size is much smaller. So I’ve been reading here and there about recording, 2 mics, stereo, etc… but I haven’t seen anything about trying to record a mono track with 2 mics. (sorry if this thread is somewhere already, i really didn’t see it).

Is there a way to do this? maybe…

Mic 1
---->External Mixer (both on 1 channel) → Audacity (mono)
Mic 2

Or some other way?? Like I said, I really have no clue what I’m talking about, but I need to find a solution…


  • 2 mics (podcasting mics)
  • both people will never be talking at the same time (is there a way to switch back and forth between the mics on one channel or something like that?)
  • needs to be recorded as 1 track in mono to keep file size to a minimum
  • but still somehow keep the recording at a good quality level

POSSIBLE? or am I crazy? :blush: :confused:

The way that I would do it:

Mic 1
---->External Mixer (mic 1 panned left, mic 2 panned right) → Audacity (stereo)
Mic 2

So you now have a stereo track with Mic 1 on the upper (left) channel and Mic 2 on the lower (right) channel.

Click on the name of the track and from the drop down menu select “Split Stereo Track”.

Now Click on the name of the top track and change it from “Left Channel” to Mono.
Click on the name of the bottom track and change it from “Right Channel” to Mono.

You now have the voice that was using Mic 1 on one mono track, and the other voice on the other track.

Depending on the microphone placement, there may be some “spill over” of the voices from one track to the other, but you should have a reasonable amount of separation.

You can now adjust the levels for each track (voice) to get a nice balance.

When you Export your audio, because all tracks are mono, it will export in mono.
(Do not adjust the pan position of any track, as that will cause it to be stereo)

For more tips and general help with Audacity, have a look at the Audacity wiki (link at top of page). The “Tips” and the “Tutorials” sections will probably be most useful.

thanks. I will try that… this stuff is a little over my head, but hopefully I’ll be able to figure something out.

What’s the pay like? I’m looking for a new job :smiley:

Have a play with it - if you get stuck, just ask (lots of useful stuff in the wiki by the way - see link at top of page)

haha. the pay isn’t all that… i’m just the administrative assistant… so you can see why I have no clue about this stuff. :blush:

I’ve been looking at the wiki page a little… and I’ve been playing around with the mics, but we haven’t gotten an external mixer yet… we’re trying to decide if we should or not… I suppose we’ll have to if we want to use both mics, but i’m thinking using mics for this type of work isn’t such a great idea anyways… with people moving their mouths too far away or too close to the mic during the seminar it will make the volume all messed up anyways… it seems that a headset would be better… but again… we will need 2… so i have no clue how we’re going to make this work. lol… its Friday… i’m trying not to pull my hair out JUST yet. :laughing:

I’d be cautious about using a headset - unless you pay quite a lot for them, the sound quality is likely to be very poor.

It may be worth considering a Zoom H2 recorder. They are small, very convenient, excellent sound quality, and you can dump the recordings to your computer via USB for editing with Audacity. I got one for about £125 GBP - upgraded the flash memory for an additional £17, and got 6 rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger for another £10. I’m extremely happy with it and use it all the time.

ah. great! These seem soooooo much better and will save me a lot of work!!! (not to mention we won’t be carrying a huge podcasting mic around!)… My boss and I are going to review these:

HHb FlashMic DRM85,
Olympus LS-10 ,
ony PCM-D50,
Zoom H2.

Do you have any idea about the other 3? or would you still recommend the zoom?

and thank you for all of your help. I really appreciate it :slight_smile:

I’ve not tried the others.

ok. thanks… my boss actually bought the zoom over the weekend. haha… so i guess we’ll see how it works when it gets here. thanks again for your help!

It’s definitely worth upgrading the flash card to a larger capacity. I recently bought a 2 gig card for £10 GBP ($20 US) while on holiday. With more capacity, you can record in better quality (320kbps MP3, or even WAV format). The flash card needs to be reasonable quick to handle the amount of data at high quality settings, so go for a reputable make, with a guarantee.

I prefer to record with the automatic gain control (AGC) switched off, then use the “SC4”, “leveler” or “fast look-ahead limiter” plug-ins in Audacity if necessary to even out the volume. This works much better than any AGC because (once you get the hang of how to use these effects) you can use them intelligently, which an AGC system can not.

Also, be sure to set the “high/medium/low” sensitivity switch on the Zoom to the appropriate position. For recording people talking round a table, and the Zoom in the middle, the most sensitive setting will probably be right (unless people start shouting loudly). Have a play with it and read the user manual (which is quite good for a change) before you need to use it in earnest.