Recording 2 mics with a mixer vs. a USB audio interface

I am attempting to record with two microphones simultaneously on Audacity in order to be able to record Voice and Guitar at the same time. I have been using a Zoom H1 microphone to get guitar and vocals at the same time, then proceeding to overdub for all the other parts. While this method works it does inhibit equalizing the voice and guitar separately as well as adding effects like Gverb not as clean. I have a few standard mics and a condenser mic to use in addition to my Zoom. I have a few questions:

First, is it possible to record two live stereo tracks simultaneously on audacity? If so how?

Second, which type of product would best serve to record two microphones at the same time? A mixer such as the Peavey PV6 USB?

Or a USB audio interface, such as the M-Audio M-track 2 channel?

I am running Audacity 2.0.3 on a Sony Vaio VGN-NW350F that has Windows 7

I have heard that it is possible to record two simultaneous stereo tracks on Audacity though it requires a stereo mix driver that does not exist on my computer (yes I checked “show disabled devices” in the mic options). If it is possible to fix this for simultaneous recording I would be very pleased. If it is not possible then I have heard that it is possible to use two mics on a mixer, pan one mic all the way to the left channel and the other to the right on the mixer, record in stereo, split into mono (so that the voice and guitar would be separate) and then pan each mono track to make them more centered on Audacity. This seems like a clever solution, though I am suspicious that some of the quality might be sacrificed in all the panning.

Basically I am looking for an effective method to be able to record voice and guitar at the same time because I am terrible at overdubbing a voice track over an instrument track. Any opinions, tips, or tricks would be very helpful!

With appropriate hardware and drivers, yes, but otherwise no.
To record two stereo tracks simultaneously you need a “sound card” (audio capture device) that has 4 independent audio capture channels. It also needs to work with Windows drivers (Audacity does not ship with ASIO driver support due to licensing issues) and the driver must present the hardware as “one multi-channel device” (not as 2 or more mono or stereo devices). Unfortunately we don’t have much information about which devices fulfil these requirements (users rarely tell us).

However, you probably do not need two stereo channels at the same time.
I am presuming that you only have one mouth and only play one guitar at a time, in which case you only need to be able to record 2 channels at a time - one for the vocal and one for the guitar (you can convert them to stereo later if you wish to apply stereo effects).


When you “Spit Stereo to Mono”, the new mono tracks will both be precisely centred. No need to pan them unless you want them off-centre.

There should be no loss of sound quality. If anything the sound quality should be slightly better than not panning (though not noticeably, and probably not even measurably better).

I’ve not used either of those devices, so I can’t comment on them, but at home I use a 12 channel Behringer mixer with a Behringer UCA 202 and I’m very happy with the sound quality. (I’d rather use an Allen and Heath GL desk, but I don’t do enough recording at home to justify the cost :wink:)

There is one consideration about the Peavey that’s not immediately obvious. The analog Peavey with a UCA-202 gives you a way to perform “perfect overdubbing” by giving you a place to plug your headphones.

I don’t know that you can do a similar job with the Peavey USB. I can’t see anywhere it says that the headphones can be connected to audio both directions at the same time which is possible with the UCA202 – and required for perfect overdubbing.

We have multiple PV6 mixers at the company and I own one. They’re extremely well behaved mixers. This is me doing the LA half of a radio broadcast.


Thank you both for the quick and very useful responses! I will definitely invest in a mixer, probably the Behringer 12-channel mixer and the UCA 202, I do like the Peavey, however I would like the extra 3 prong mic inputs the 12 channel offers. One of these days I might look into getting an external sound card and the drivers for live multi-track recording, however since I don’t have to worry about the pan issue even I can manage using the split trick until I get a little more handy with the driver software.