Multi-track Hardware

I’m new to macs and audacity. In order to take advantage of 16 tracks what exactly does “multi-channel hardware” mean? Do you recommend anything? What other accessories would be good to have?


You would need a multi-channel sound-card if you want to record more than 2 tracks simultaneously. I’m not a Mac user so I don’t know what would be compatible with a Mac, but a multi-channel firewire device should work as long as Mac drivers are available.

The multi-channel soundcard must also present itself as a single device (some 4 channel soundcards have drivers that look to the OS as 2 stereo devices. Some 8 channel soundcards appear as 4 stereo devices etc.) It is important that the driver shows up as a single multi-channel device, as Audacity can only use the input from one audio device.

If you want to record multiple audio tracks, but only need to record one or two tracks at a time, then you can record as many tracks as you like without any special hardware.

Audacity will record up to 16 individual channels of sound from any one audio device. That does not mean you can connect, for example, eight USB turntables up to your computer and play 8 records in stereo at the same time. Audacity will see only one turntable as one stereo sound device (two audio channels).

So, the idea is to find one audio interface box with 16 spigots on it–8 stereo shows. That’s actually a little rough to do because the number of channels delivered to the computer is different from the number of inputs and busses inside the unit, and the ads and lists of specifications don’t always split them up in an intelligent manner.