How can I record two microphones at once?

I want to record two microphones with standard 3.5mm stereo jacks on one laptop into two different tracks, but at the same time. Would a simple 2x female to 1x male cable work? If not then what do I need to do this, if it’s possible? A plugin maybe? Thanks in advance.

into two different tracks, but at the same time. Would a simple 2x female to 1x male cable work?

No. It might work, but you’d only get one track and you’d be violating the rule that says you should NEVER connect two outputs together.* i.e. Each output is driving the other output and seeing an unpredictable impedance load and unpredictable things might happen… You might get low signal levels or distortion, etc.

Most mic inputs on computers are mono, but if you have a stereo mic input you might be able to record one mic on the left and another on the right, but you’d have to find the right adapter cable (or combination of adapters/cables) or build an adapter cable yourself (if you know how to solder and you can figure-out the wiring).

If not then what do I need to do this, if it’s possible? A plugin maybe? Thanks in advance.

Typically, you’d use an audio interface with two or more microphone inputs ([u]example[/u]) and a pair of studio or stage microphones. (Computer mics only work with computers and studio/stage mics don’t work with laptops or regular soundcards.)

In some cases you can use two USB mics, but in general this doesn’t work either because most software can only record from one “device” at a time. So, it’s not a solution I’d recommend.


  • It’s generally OK to connect two inputs together, such as connecting two amplifiers to the same CD player, or connecting two computers to one microphone.

You could try the “Y” cable, but you’re not just combining the two voices coming down the cable into one, you are also splitting the power that the computer supplies up the cable to run the microphones. So the microphones are struggling to run at half-power and then their volume is half when the computer finally does get the show.

Give it a shot. It could work enough for what you want. This is one of the combinations that there is no easy work-around.

Buy a friend with a second laptop lunch so you can use two, one for each microphone. That would work perfectly fine. Audacity is free so you can download and install as many as you want. Stop and File > Export a WAV (Microsoft) sound file from him at the end of the show and get him to send it to you. Combine the two in your Audacity.


I used a Y cable (2 mono female to one stereo male), a microphone into each female and the mail into my PC mic in port. It worked beautifully. One mic recorded on the upper trace in Audacity and the other mic recorded on the lower trace in Audacity. Using Realtek Audio Manager on my PC I adjusted the balance of the two mics and saw it reflected in the Audacity traces.
BUT, when I tried to do it again another day, it wouldn’t work! Each microphone recorded on both traces! I don’t know what I did differently, if anything. Is there perhaps a setting somewhere in Audacity that I may have inadvertently changed so that the separate signals from the mics get mixed together in Audacity?

Windows update can reset recording devices to mono …

Thanks very much, Trebor. I followed your instructions, but found that all the options available, including the default, are 2 channel. My problem is with the front microphone input on my PC. But it appears to not be the PC that is having the problem. Rather, it is Audacity. When I monitor the microphone with headphones plugged into the headphone jack of the PC, I hear in my left ear only the sound spoken into the left mic, and I hear in my right ear only the sound received by the right mic. So the PC must be receiving and distributing the stereo correctly.
However, Audacity records both left and right mic sounds on both channels in Audacity.
Thanks for considering my problem.

There is an option in Audacity preferences as to whether to record in “2 (stereo)”

Can also try each the three different recording hosts to see if one of them gives you back stereo recording.