Recording with multiple USB mics

Ok, I am probably exposing my ignorance of audio hardware here, but I’ve been wondering something: I’d like to put together a setup for simple voice-only recording (audio dramas and maybe some singing). In the past I’ve worked with groups that plugged the mics into a mixing board that was then connected to the PC with something like my group’s M-Audio Delta 44. But, for a simple setup, would it not be possible to just invest in some decent USB mics and use pulseaudio or similar (I’m running Linux) to make them look like they’re all channels of the same hardware device to software?

If this has been done, does anyone know about documentation they could link me to? And would something like Ardour be a better choice than Audacity for this sort of recording?


Audacity can only record from one device at a time.
It is possible on Linux to create a virtual driver that combines the inputs of multiple devices into one multi-channel device, but that would be fairly advanced Linux users. No one has ever bothered to write any software for Linux that will do this because of other problems that occur. Each audio device will be using it’s own clock signal, so they are all essentially “free-wheeling” with nothing to keep them synchronised, so each recorded track will gradually drift out of sync from the others.

There’s an article on the Internet about some brave soul that took a soldering iron to a pair of sound cards, removed the crystal oscillator from one board, and hard wired it to the other board, then worked out all the coding magic and got it to work. It’s fully documented if you can be bothered to search Google for it.

I don’t know if you can record multiple USB microphones simultaneously with Ardour, you will need to ask on the Ardour forum, but you still have the potential problem of them drifting out of sync with each other unless Ardour has some clever way to prevent that.

In my opinion, a mixing desk would be the way to go, though you may want to consider a firewire mixer (check for Linux support before you buy).