Home recording question

Simple question from an amateur…if I use two USB mics in two USB ports will Audacity record two tracks?

Windows 7 64 bit
Audacity 2.03

Not by pushing a button, no. Macs have a thing they call “Aggregate Device” where you can smash two USB microphones into one and record the combination as one microphone. You don’t get two different tracks. Because they’re two separate digital microphones, they drift apart over the course of the show. So it’s less handy than you think.

I don’t know any way to do that in Windows.

The shift from one to multi-microphones is usually the magic place you graduate from USB to analog microphones and a mixer/digitizer. If you stop at two, you can use a digitizer-only like the Focusrite Scarlett device or equivalent. I’ve never used one of those, but it assigns the two microphones to left and right and you can’t stop it.

I use a Peavey mixer and either a Mac (built-in digitizer) or a Windows machine and a UCA202 digitizer.



Thank you very much…I almost bought two usb mics because someone at Best Buy said it would work. Didn’t sound right to me.

You can use multiple microphones on multiple computers. Record in several different Audacities and combine the sound files in Audacity later. That does work, although you could have the multiple microphone drift problem from earlier.

A word on that. Drift means you clap on-mic at the beginning of the show and clap once again after an hour goes by. At the end of the show, the playback will have two claps, one microphone having got there before the other. The only way to get around that is one digitizer, not a separate digitizer inside each microphone.

You can cure that in Audacity with Effect > Change Speed, although it can be a little rough to figure out the correction.


That’s one of the downsides to USB mics…

In general, you can only record from one “device” at a time… I’m not sure if there is a work-around.

I think you can open two instances of Audacity and select different mics for each one, but I’m not sure if you’d be able to start them both at the same time, so you’d have to re-sync the tracks manualy when you mix later.

Also, each mic has it’s own clock (oscillator) and no clock is perfect. If you are making a long recording, the timings will eventually drift apart.

If you are recording in stereo (where both mics are picking-up the center of the soundfield), a timing-difference between the channels of 1 millisecond or less can cause weird “phasing” issues. If each mic is recording something different (such as two singers, or a singer and an instrument) and there is little common sound in both channels, phase isn’t an issue and you can generally live with small timing differences.

Wow …thanks to all…lot’s of good information. I’m thinking maybe a digitizer(?) and a couple of mics will do the trick. I already have two nice condenser mics I used to use in a Teac tape deck to record my music…long before digital and computers.

I’m not after studio quality. Just want to record my songs for family and friends that have asked. I also think it would be a lot of fun creating drum, piano, bass and other instrument tracks to spice it up.

I’d appreciate any recommendations on inexpensive digitizers as well.

Thanks again to all.

I’m not after studio quality.

Yes, you are. Anyone thinking about multi-track recording and editing music quickly finds that the dog barking next door, the Metrobus starting up outside and “recording in a kitchen” echoes turn your production into a small child fooling around with a Mr. Microphone.

These problems get rapidly worse as you overdub.

I have friends that record live voice in a coat closet to get rid of the echoes and noise. It works, too, although it would be a little rough to get the bass drum in there.

One of our conference rooms is soundproofed and I will go to significant effort to do recordings in there.


Yeah…I understand that. I might spring for some studio time. Did that once years ago. Got a lot of free drinks years ago when a friend of mine with a gig at a local club would ask me to come up and do a few of my tunes. But my priority at the moment since I can’t write sheet music, is to get the lyrics and music down. Not auditioning for anything and no interest in performing, it’s just that friends have been after me for years to do something with my songs. At least I’d have something to shop around, or leave for posterity…I’m getting up there.

Not auditioning for anything and no interest in performing

That would work, then, yes. People post all the time complaining that their home recording doesn’t sound like Columbia Records or Deutsche Grammophon.