Stereo vs Mono Channel With 2 Mics

Using Window 10
Shure SM57 Mics
Scarlett 18i18 usb interface

I recently upgraded from a 402VLz4 to the Scarlett/Focusrite

With the VLZ4, I had a left and right main out that then merged into one male that plugged into an iMic which was the usb interface.
Everything recorded nicely in stereo and pumped out a lot of good quality podcasts. Finally, the iMic quality was going and wanting to have three people with three different microphones on the podcast - I figured I’d upgrade to the Scarlett.

From browsing the forum it seems that Audacity cannot handle three microphones being used to record a podcast with the Scarlet USB interface (am I correct in this?). I read that Audacity can only handle two mics at a time, which leads me to my conundrum.

When I record with just the two mics in MONO - only one mic gets picked up (which I understand why - MONO. With stereo, MIC 1 records Left side, MIC 2 records right side, but when I export the audio to MP3, it keeps this as R and L, so when listening to the people talking it is not in stereo - how do I fix this? I mean it’s cool with rock music to have dueling guitars on your L & R, but not when listening to a podcast.

Before I export how to I correct this so that everything is in stereo?

EXTRA BONUS POINTS - Is there an easy (free or paid) software that allows for a USB interface to record multiple (3+) separate mics at the same time without being an audio engineer? How do these other low overhead podcasts do it?

Thank you for your help!

There is a little window to the left of the waveform with a drop-down arrow. Click the drop-down and select Split Stereo Track.

Now In that little window you’ll see separate volume sliders and L-R pan sliders for each track. You can both move tracks to the center or near the center if you like to keep a little of the stereo effect.

Or, when you export to MP3 there is a Force export to mono option. Both channels will be mixed and a true-mono file will play through both speakers.

Or, you there might be a mono recording option in the [u]Audacity Device Toolbar[/u] but with a multi-channel interface, I’m not sure…

EXTRA BONUS POINTS - Is there an easy (free or paid) software that allows for a USB interface to record multiple (3+) separate mics at the same time

Your Focusrite should have come with Ableton Live Lite. [u]Cakewalk[/u] is now free. [u]Pro Tools First[/u] is free, but I’ve only heard “bad things” about it.

without being an audio engineer?

All of the multi-track DAWs seem to get pretty complicated.

How do these other low overhead podcasts do it?

I don’t know… I’m sure you don’t want to buy any more hardware but a [u]USB mixer[/u] can mix several mics in real-time while recording the stereo (or mono) mix. But, you are stuck with the mix of one mic is too-loud or too-soft. (In some ways that’s an advantage because you don’t have to spend as much time in post-production.) And, it’s difficult to “run the mixer” if you also part of the talent.