Can I have a stereo track from one microphone?

Hi all,
I am an absolute beginner and this is my first thread here, so please bear with me :slight_smile:
I am starting to use Audacity with a Behringer UMC404HD audio interface.
When I plug one mic into the UMC (input 1) and start recording, the signal goes only to the left channel of the stereo track.
If I plug the mic into input 2 of the UMC I get sound on the right channel only.
Can’t I create a stereo track with sound on both channels using one single mic?

Win 7 64 bit
Audacity 2.1.2

If you set Audacity to record in mono, you can use the L…R pan slider to left of the blue waves to pan the track in the stereo field. When you export or Tracks > Mix and Render, you’ll see the result is a stereo track and the playback meter will show one channel louder than the other.

Even if you don’t pan, a track recorded in mono will play equally through both speakers.

If you are talking about adding fake stereo effects, such as duplicating the mono track and delaying one channel, that is a different thing altogether.


What are you recording? What is the show? If you’re producing a voice performance such as AudioBook or Podcast, it’s easy to fix in post production.

Select the show on the blue-wave timeline by clicking just above MUTE. Use the drop-down menu on the left > Stereo Track to Mono.

This will give you two separate mono tracks in place of your one stereo. [X] Delete the dead one.

If you’re doing music performance it’s harder. These interfaces are not mixers. You can’t “assign” a microphone to be Left, Right or Middle. What you plug into is what you get. Sometimes, the interface will appear as either mono or stereo and you can select it that way in Windows Control Panels or in Audacity Device Toolbar.

Sometimes if you do that, the volume of the performance will decrease and cause overloading damage. I don’t know the magic of predicting that, but make a voice recording the way you are now and save it. Reconfigure to mono and make another, similar recording. Compare the blue waves. If one is a great deal lower than the other, then you may be stuck with stereo and the post production patching.

That’s why I favor actual mono interfaces such as the Behringer UM2. They can appear as mono with no further fuss.

Try it. Behringer is usually pretty good about this.


One note. Although it’s not a stereo track, a mono track will play to both left and right. This is usually indicated if you’re recording to AudioBook.

That’s why it’s good to know what you’re doing.


In other words, if you are just recording the one mic, put it in the left input and try setting Audacity to 1 recording channel (mono) in Device Toolbar.

Then, as long as the recording doesn’t turn out at half volume, you don’t need workarounds afterwards to make it mono then pan it (if desired).


Thank you guys. I’ll try to apply your advice soon and report back.
Anyway, if I ever succeed in this thing :slight_smile: , I intend to record music performances at home with two to four mics at the same time.
My first trial (the one where I noted the ‘missing channel’ issue) was me and my guitar recorded with one mic. From that I got sound only on one channel during playback. I thought I’d have sound on both channels even using one mic.

Your interface is intended to be used with two microphones. It will produce a track with all one microphone on left and all the other on Right. That may seem to be an odd choice, but from there you can use Audacity to “mix down” your performance to whatever you want including individually correcting each microphone for tone and volume.

It’s a tiny version of studio multi-track recording where the lead singer is on track one, the violins are on track 8, trumpets are on track 14, the bass guitar is on track 18, etc.

If you use a small mixer, mix multiple microphones down to stereo, and you miss any one thing, you start over. There is no taking the show apart and fixing just your voice for example. Once you smash all the sounds into one mixed show, that’s the ball game.

You can certainly do the mixdown ahead of Audacity, but just know you are producing the final product, full stop. There is little or no post production.

The downside of doing it multi-track is the need to mix it down. There is a fuzzy post production editing rule of thumb that on average, the length of the show times five is the length of edit time. It rarely goes under that and it can go way over.

You don’t have to go out and buy a mixer and multiple microphones. You can use Audacity Overdubbing. Record the rhythm track. Play that back into your headphones and record the guitar track. Then play any of those back and record the bass, etc. etc. etc.

You want to sing all the Andrews Sisters parts by yourself? OK. You can generate and record a click track and use that as a timing base if you’re not up to a-capella singing for the first track. Play the click track while you sing LaVern’s part, then play back LaVern while you sing Patty’s part…

No good deed ever goes unpunished, so if you decide to go that route, the computer gets stressed in Overdubbing. It has to play and record absolutely perfectly and in real time. So wimpy computers need not apply. That and it’s a little sticky to set up, so you have to pay attention.

Let us know.


what I intend to do in the long run (not too long I hope) is multitrack home recording.
Think of one mic for vocals, two mics in XY configuration for guitar, another mic for my buddy on harmonica. For the time being let’s forget about the ‘all together in one room’ vs. overdubbing issue.
My point is: apart from guitar, which is recorded in stereo with two mics, will I be able to have one stereo track using a single mic with sound on both channels?

In the meantime I made a simple exercise with Audacity:

  1. record my voice on a mono track using one mic;
  2. create a second mono track;
  3. copy and paste the content of the first track on the second;
  4. pan one track to full L, the other to full R;
  5. select both tracks and make ‘mix and render to new track’: now I have one new stereo track with the same sound signal in the R and L channels.
    It is clearly a very rough approach, I’m sure that something better than this can be done.

I add to the above report from my little exercise that the final stereo track (actually a plain sum of two mono tracks) has a higher volume than each original single mono track, and the playback meter goes red all the time. How can I have a lower, more manageable volume? Should I use the gain cursor on the stereo track?

Select the one Mono track by clicking just above MUTE.
Duplicate - Control-D
Menu on the left > Make Stereo Track.

I personally don’t like the tools where Audacity does stuff in the background like that pan slider thing.

Let’s do this a little different. If you mount your interface as mono, is it possible for you to overload the timeline (just as a test)? If you yell, can you get the sound meters to go all the way up and turn red and can you get the blue waves to go +1 to -1? If you can then you should probably leave the settings that way.

There is one very common problem when you cross Mono and Stereo on some systems and the Audacity timeline overloads at 0.5 instead of 1.0 and you can’t stop it.

If you don’t have that problem, then you can run the setups wherever you like.

The indicators on the UMC404 should flash green but not red in normal operation, and you should never run Audacity so it clips (overloads).

This is a four channel interface. Did they send driver software? Audacity will cheerfully record multi-channel, but you have to get it past Windows first. I’m a little foggy on how that works. We did write a thing on multi-channel.


Just runnin’ this through my head again. The 404 still isn’t a mixer. if you fill it up with microphones you’re going to get four independent sound tracks with one microphone on each one. If you try the two microphone XY mux thing, you’re going to have to process that later in post production. Unless the drivers provide for it…

How can I have a lower, more manageable volume? Should I use the gain cursor on the stereo track?

I’ve been doing it at the mixer. Run Audacity capture all the way up. Watch the Audacity meters but adjust the mixer, or in your case the 404. The only down side I can think of is my mixer sound meters can’t be used. That may also mess up your Red/Green 404 indicators.

Others may pop in on this. I don’t think there’s one true path.

There is one fixed rule. You Will Not Overload Anything. The minute you clip or overload, that’s the end. Permanent distortion. Yes, Audacity has a tool called Clip Fix. It’s designed to partially rescue one single clip point by trying to guess what the sound may have been had it not gotten damaged. It’s guessing at it and the chance of seamless perfection is almost zero.


Some Windows machines have an automatic sound boost for USB connections. That’s research for you. I’m not a Windows elf.

I know why. Manufacturers have been making USB microphones with low volume.


Why do you need to do that? We have said twice now - a mono track (unpanned) plays out of both speakers.

And you can pan a mono track without duplicating it.

Just do step 1 above.

  1. Move the pan slider where you want it.

  2. Click above Mute in the track to make sure the track is selected.

  3. Tracks > Mix and Render.

What you did distorts because the two mono tracks are added together when you render.


Back I am guys. Sorry for my delay, I haven’t had time to dedicate to this, unfortunately.
Re-reading your previous posts I realize that what I did (the 5-point procedure) is totally silly.
I experimented a little bit with the two methods described earlier, starting from one mono track with the pan slider set 50% to L:

  1. mix and render: this gives me a stereo track with about the same volume (meter- and ear-wise) as the original mono track. The L wave is shallower than the R wave and the pan slider is in the center;
  2. duplicate then make stereo track (the latter command is available only on the L track, that is the original one): I obtain a stereo track with about the same volume (meter- and ear-wise) as the starting mono track but with two equal waves. This time the pan slider of the stereo track is 50% to the left.
    I am not sure I understand exactly what happened in the two cases above, but the first one seems a more ‘natural’ work flow to me.

Let me give you an easier way:

  1. Record in mono.
  2. Pan the track however you like, or leave it centred.
  3. There is no step 3.

Thank you Steve.
But… let’s think to a more complex scenario, like multitracking from four different sources: two vocals from two separate mics plus a guitar from two mics in XY stereo configuration.
When it comes to mixing may I work with mono and stereo tracks?
Please forgive the dumb question, I’m sitll at year Zero of home recording as you can guess.

Indeed there is no need for step 3. I suggested to Mix and Render after any pan purely to prove that this will make a stereo track when you export.


I think you are getting ahead of yourself. Most devices on Windows cannot record multi-channel (more than two channels) into Audacity as shipped. This is because the device requires the recording software to support ASIO to record multi-channel, but Audacity as shipped does not support ASIO.

So you might find that with four mics connected, Audacity would only let you record two mics at a time. Mics 1 and 2 would selectable as one stereo device, and mics 3 and 4 would be selectable as a second stereo device.

How many recording channels are offered now in Device Toolbar?


Yes, absolutely. When recording multi-tracks, such as when overdubbing, it is usual to record mono sources (such as “a microphone”) as mono tracks, and stereo sources (such as an “A/B stereo pair” of mics, or a stereo keyboard) as stereo tracks.

Overdubbing is the solution if you cannot record more than stereo (two channels) at once. For example you would record mono mic, then record A/B stereo pair while listening to the mono mic track, then record the stereo keyboard while listening to the mix of mono and stereo mics.