Recording two separate tracks and mixing

Okay, I am definitely not an audio engineer but here goes… We have a Mackie mixer (8 channel) into a PC with what is probably a two channel soundcard.We are recording 2 inputs stereo left /right from a keyboard and then 2 other mics violin/cello into 2 other inputs. Question. Is there any way to record one track ,say the violin/cello together and then later(not at the same time),
record the piano as a separate track and then mix them together? I know this is done in a studio all of the time but we prefer
not to have to get much if any more gear. How could we utilize our Mackie mixer so that the keyboard could hear the other instruments while he overdubs a new track? Anybody. We have some great music to put down but its difficult recording all live.

You can do that just fine, and I don’t even think you’ll have to swap any cables out.

Every time you hit record in Audacity, you’ll get a new track that’s recording whatever audio the input is seeing at that moment. So all you have to do between different instruments is click Stop, set the mixer and Audacity up for the new instrument, and then click record again. In your case, since you are only using 1 pair of input channels, you can just leave Audacity setup to record from that source and the only settings you’ll need to change between instruments are on the mixer.

If your description of your setup is correct, then following these steps will give you what you want:

  1. Turn the volume up on the violin/cello channel on the mixer. Record the first set of tracks with the violin/cello pair. Click stop (not pause).
  2. Set the time cursor back to the beginning (or press << rewind).
  3. Turn the volume down on the violin/cello channels and turn it up on the keyboard channels on the mixer (to avoid any extraneous noise, it’s a good idea to mute all the channels you aren’t using). Now click record again and you should be able to record the keyboards while listening to the violin/cello tracks.

Now you should probably click on the name of the violin/cello track and select “split stereo track”. Then click on the name of each new track and select “mono”. That will give you individual control over each instrument (provided they were panned hard left/right while being recorded).

Does that work, if not when do you run into problems?