Recording multiple input sources at once

I don’t have any mixing desks or proper audio equipment, just a basic PC I want to record a few things on, playing about really. I basically want a way to hear what I sound like singing and playing the guitar, sound quality isn’t a problem I just want to cringe at how out of tune I might be.

I tried a single-mic setup but either my voice or the guitar always dominates. So I figured since my skype headset is basically a USB soundcard and I can plug my (acoustic) guitar line-out into my PC’s built-in soundcard, I could record both together. Each has been tested individually as a viable way to record.

Does audacity support multiple recording inputs, or is that a fundamental limit of it (or the operating system)?

Audacity supports ONE recording device at a time.
Multichannel recording is possible ONLY if the multiple inputs are presented to Audacity as a single device.

With only a standard PC, the best way to record multiple inputs is to record one, then record another over the top.
You will need a pair of headphones for monitoring.

If you wish to hear yourself playing/singing live (through the headphones) at the same time as you hear the other track playing, you will need to use a conventional microphone plugged into your computer sound card and not a USB microphone. (Though some specialist USB microphones have a headphone socket built in that provide the ability to monitor both).

If you are recording with a USB microphone, you will be able to hear the previous track playing back while you record, but will only hear the “live” track that you are recording acoustically (not through the headphones).

The basic procedure is described in this tutorial:

I guess that’s not surprising, is it a primary feature in how Audacity works?

Under Windows 7 at least, I’m amble to monitor any of my inputs on any of my outputs - but with some lag since it’s all cheap stuff. As you suggest, I’m resorting to recording a base track first.

It’s not because its “cheap stuff”, it’s because there is no hard wired connection between the USB microphone and the headphone output on the sound card, so the sound can only be routed through by software, and that takes time, hence the lag.

Interestingly, Linux users have the option of optimising their systems for audio and are able to very efficiently route a USB input signal to their sound card output so that the delay is only a few milliseconds. Windows 7 is also introducing a low latency audio system, but currently there are problems with it, so at some point in the future Windows users can look forward to also having this facility.

As a software developer, there’s no intrinsic reason for it to be slow in terms of the actual processing required on the software side. But yes through the bowels of USB and the operating system, which is not geared around low-latency (just as games use specialist techniques for graphics) things get held up.

Anyway, my question is answered, even if not in the way I’d have liked :slight_smile:

What about just recording the stereo mix and splitting the track to separate mono recordings? Could this allow artists to record a separate vocal with some guide track/instruments simultaneously.

I’m presently moving to Audacity from Vegas Pro (been ignoring the video editing) so my experience with audio recording is a little different… I’ve noticed that the mic input on my PC does not pass along stereo signals from my mixer to the CPU. It’s a stereo recording with L R identical (no panning) I’ve tried other audio inputs on the CPU’s basic sound card but the result was the same. Do I need a device between mixer and CPU that accepts a stereo signal and sends stereo to Audacity with a USB connection? Do I need a better sound card?

Do you mean the “sound card mixer” or do you mean a physical mixing desk (mixing console)?

physical mixer. …so a pair of RCA cables L and R with an adapter to stereo 1/8" plug is/are what I’m trying to use to get my stereo signal to the sound card input. ???hard to believe, there’s no stereo input on a sound card of any kind. hmmmm… confusion.
SV btw… thx for help

That’s quite common on Laptop computers. If this is a Desktop computer then there is usually a Mic in (mono) and a Line in (stereo). On Windows Vista/Win 7 it may be necessary to configure the Line in as stereo in the Windows Control Panel. Having said that, standard built in sound cards on PCs are usually pretty poor for recording. I use a Behringer UCA 202 USB sound card which is cheap but gives pretty good recording quality (Line in/Line out - suitable for connecting a mixing desk). This allows me to pan one microphone left and another microphone right (on the Mixing desk) and record 2 “instruments” at the same time by setting Audacity to record in stereo. The stereo track can then be split into 2 mono tracks by clicking on the track name and selecting “Split to mono” from the drop down menu (Audacity 1.3.12 - not available in 1.2.6).

ok, is it the blue one that’s for stereo input, typically? I’ll look into sound cards first chance I get. thank you, steve