Keeping stereo tracks separate/unmixed on save


I have tried to find an answer for this but to no avail. Please forgive me if this is obvious or common. I am very new to audacity.

I have made a stereo recording with a left and a right track in two separate windows (one under the other). When I play the recording in audacity the left and right track are completely separate. There is no mix. What I hear through the left ear is totally different from what I hear through the right ear and I can play the tracks simultaneously (which is what I want. I want to hear at the same time different things through each ear).

I then export the file to a .wav or .mp3. I close the file and open the new one. The file that comes in has stereo tracks but they appear in a single window (not like the file I saved). When I play the file in audacity (or some other player), I get a mix of both tracks in each ear. If I use the “pan” facility I can control the sound that I hear in each ear but, of course, I can no longer hear the tracks simultaneously. In other words, the tracks are separate but the pan facility mixes them evenly between each ear.

What can I do to export in stereo but maintain the separateness of each track?

Thanks for any help

The first thing I would do is make the original show a linked stereo track and not two independent tracks – or link them just before exporting a sound file. Left-hand drop-down menu > Make Stereo Track. If you do that, then whatever is on the left should stay there. Audacity has Mixdown-On-Export rules and if you’re not careful how to created the show, it will try to make a theatrically pleasing show and not always what you intended.

Audacity > Edit > Preferences > Import-Export.


Thank you very much Koz. I will try what you say.


I’m sure that’s not the only way to do it, but that method does work. In order to apply effects and filters to one side without the other, it is required that you have the tracks split. It’s the File Export process that can get a little Out There.

Are you sure your monitoring system is Stereo? That is the other scenario which can cause that. Here’s a little stereo test clip I produced.

“This is my voice on the left…”


Thanks for the good advice Koz. I will check using your file - I am aware that this could be a problem but the tracks seem pretty watertight in my headphones. I will check with different speakers too.


I’m in a similar predicament. Let me know if I ought to start a new thread rather than hijack this one…

I have an application where I’m using an audio file to drive a theater prop. The left channel has vocals and is connected to a speaker and the right has signal tones connected to a decoder, which controls the prop. Seems that no matter what I do, I can’t keep the channels from bleeding into each other, so I hear the signals on the speaker.

The hardware I’m using is an mp3 player into a 3.5mm stereo jack. I split the jack into 2 mono jacks; one to the decoder and one to the speaker.

I took the original stereo sound track and split it into 2 mono tracks. Then I deleted the audio on the right track and pasted in the signal tones at the points where I need them.

I tried panning each 100% to each side, saving as 2 mono channels and I tried mixing back to stereo also to no avail. Perhaps it’s a feature of the stereo circuits adding back crossfade, maybe I’m missing something in the audio file itself. Dunno.


Well… for what it’s worth, I would be happy for this thread to continue as it is as I am very interested to see what solutions can be found.

I too wonder if it is not a hardware issue for at least some of us facing this problem.


Have you tried playing Koz’s stereo test clip?
Does it play correctly in Audacity?
Does it play correctly in your other player?