Multitrack recording with 4 microphones

Hi I am new to recording devices and using Audacity.

I am doing a project for school that requires recording electric motors R/C aircraft. I plan on setting up 4 Tascam TM-PC1 Pencil Condenser Microphones surrounding the test stand and they will run into a mixer. Since I am on a budget I am looking into the Peavey PV6 and the Behringer Eurorack UB1202. Depending on which one I decide on I’ll either use a USB (Peavey) or a 3.5mm to RCA output (Eurorack) to connect to my computer that will run Windows 7.

My question is it possible for Audacity to display each microphone recording as a separate track or does it all get compiled into one “live” recording?
Does audacity require separate outputs for each track? Will I need a specific type of soundcard?

Like I said above I am a novice when it comes to recording. Hopefully I have provided enough information.


I keep waiting for you to get to the goal. What’s the goal?

Can we assume four independent sound channels?

The Peavey PV6-USB is a stereo mixer. The best you can do is mix everything down to Left and Right. You can put anything you want on those two channels, for example microphone one and two on Left completely divorced from Microphone three and four on Right. But you only get two. In the case of the analog version of that mixer, you also have an Effects Send, but that’s mono, not stereo, so that mixer is stereo and a half.

It’s actually much worse with your analog mixer. If you have a normal Windows laptop, it has no stereo analog input. It doesn’t matter what all those pundits on the internet say, Mic-In is mono and easily overloaded. So the best you can do with that is one distorted channel.

Unless, of course, you plug an actual microphone into it.

Yes, there are some computers that can switch one connection and some laptops have an actual stereo analog input. I think some Lenovos do that. Consult your instructions.

You hit the wall channel wise. Most computers “know” what stereo is and can handle two channels with relative ease. Three or more channels of independent sound requires special considerations.

The desperation method is two recorders.

I own a PV6 and can record two sound channels very well. I also have a Zoom H4 portable recorder which will cheerfully record the other two. Both accept XLR3 connections and broadcast type microphones including phantom power if needed. So if somebody had a gun and said I had to do this, that’s how I’d do it without writing big checks.

The one downside of two different recorders oddly has nothing to do with sound quality. Because of the digital encoders, you could get two shows that slowly drift out of sync with each other. Combat that with a sync mark at beginning and end of each show. A hand clap at each end will do it. “Sync Mark!” [bang]


I’m not sure if Audacity can record multi-track. I’ll let someone else answer that.

To multi-track record 4 microphones you need a USB audio interface with 4 or more channels ([u]example[/u]).

Most USB mixers record in stereo only (2-channels, left & right).

And if you make an analog connection to the line-input on your computer’s soundcard, that will also be 2-channel stereo.

Do NOT use the mic input on a laptop… It’s only for “computer microphones”. It’s the wrong interface for the line-output from a mixer, and it’s the wrong interface for any “good” mic. Also, be aware that you can generally use only one USB mic at a time, so don’t run out and buy 4 USB mics.

If Audacity won’t work for you, most of these audio interfaces come with software, or there is [u]REAPER[/u] ($60 USD after free trial period).

Okay thanks a lot for the quick replies. This helped a lot!

I’m not sure if Audacity can record multi-track. I’ll let someone else answer that.

Yes it does. But it only records from one Device. So whatever you buy has to appear to Audacity as one device or thing. Many multi-track devices appear as many stereo devices. It may say Six Sound Channels!! on the box, but inside the computer it arrives as three stereo tracks and Audacity can only grab one of them.

That link addresses that. This can be done.

Audacity will only play back stereo. So you can manage the tracks all day long and save then individually, but can only hear groups of two.


We are all assuming you can’t split the performance. Record two now and the other two next week.

That’s the down side of not telling us what you’re actually doing.