using built-in computer mic

Can you multi-track just using the built-in computer mic? Though I’ve done a LOT of analog multitrack recording, I’ve just started experimenting with recording on my laptop using Audacity. First track sounds pretty good just using the computer mic (I’m monitoring with headphones using the headphone jack on the computer). When I record the second track (monitoring the first track through the headphones) it all sounds good and the meters show good levels, however, upon playback the second track sounds thin and warbled with low volume, while track one sounds like it should. So, again, can you overdub this way? Or do I HAVE to use a proper USB interface? …or am I just missing something simple?

That should work.

Make sure Audacity > Edit > Preferences > Recording > [_]Playthrough is not selected. If it is, your new track may be two versions of the performance jammed over each other. The time difference may give you very serious distortion.


I was wondering this too. This tutorial says “It is strongly recommended that you do not use your computer’s built-in microphone”, but it doesn’t say why. I’d be interested in hearing your experience, Greengtr, or anyone else’s.

Past the problems of it being something of an afterthought, the built-in has to share the cabinet with the computer fans. This leads to automatic noise reduction that you can’t turn off. Not the best in the world for good quality work. Quite a number of computers have this problem, so it’s been generally discouraged. They’re right. Most of the time it’s not going to work very well.

If you’re on an unstressed Mac, generally quiet, you can turn the noise reduction off in System Preferences and actually do pretty well. You just have to pay attention.

I should put that on my sound test list.


Recording on your laptop is right there on the list with cranking out quality work on your smartphone. The first person who cracks that one will retire comfortably.