I’m wondering if it’s possible to record a second, quieter track with Audacity. I’ve worked with physical audio recorders that have this feature, which is useful if someone shouts or if a loud section of laughter causes clipping. The -12db track (or however quiet it is) can be used to save that section.
What would be ideal is if I could record one normal track from a microphone, and at the same time record a second track that’s around -12db quieter.
After searching around, I couldn’t find anyone doing something like this in Audacity. Is it possible?
It depends on your hardware.
If you have two conventional (not USB) microphones plugged into a 2 channel USB mic pre-amp, then you can simply set the level of one mic pre-amp lower than the other, then record “2 channels (stereo)”, and split the stereo track into 2 mono tracks after recording (see: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/splitting_and_joining_stereo_tracks.html)
Alternately with a single microphone and a stereo output mixer you can set the pan pot of the microphone’s channel well towards one channel or the other, and then as Steve suggest record the resulting stereo signal.
Your noise floor is unlikely to be limited by A/D conversion or the digital processing. So I expect you can also just set your recording level 12 db lower and get yourself another 12 dB of headroom.
Even at only 16-bits 96 dB is a pretty big dynamic range. The pros use 24 bits and then set “0” at -24 dB full scale.
Thanks for the replies, steve and flynwill!
Unfortunately, steve, I only have a single USB mic for now. I appreciate the input!
I tried your idea flynwill, and with a little post-production tweaking it came out pretty darn good. That’s the path I’m going to go down for now.