2 Tracks

All about......
Recording two tracks

Is there some way I can record a Microphone and a guitar at the same time to two separate tracks?

Yes, it's pretty easy. There you go again. That's because it is, however you might need to buy some equipment if you don't already have it.

I don't have a lot of money to spend.

Not to worry, you can do this rather inexpensively as well.

What does "inexpensive" mean?

low-priced, low-cost, modest, economical, competitive, affordable, reasonable, budget, bargain, cut-rate, reduced, discounted, discount, rock-bottom, giveaway, downmarket, low-end; informal bargain-basement, dirt cheap.

I know the definition of "inexpensive," I mean, how much money are we talking about?

Does your computer have a Line-In jack?


And what kind of Mic do you have

Shure SM57

Great, then we could get you going for around $30US.



Then let's get to it!

First let's just quickly cover what you'd need to do if you didn't have a Line-In on the computer, for instance if you had an old iBook. You could still stay well under $100, you'd just have to start off buying this

2 tracks 1 iMic Interface for about another $30US

What does it do?

In simplest terms... I like simple. Yes, I know... It creates a Line-In for computers that don't have one

Okay, but I don't need one, right?

Right, you already have a Line-In, so we can move on to the next piece of hardware you'd need, an analogue mixing console

Umm, that sounds expensive!

They can be, but since your needs are modest we can get by very inexpensively with this

2 tracks 2 Behringer Mixer. It has one Mic input and 4 mono line level inputs. So I could record to 5 tracks if I wanted to?

No, this is a standard 5x2 analogue mixer, there are 5 inputs and 2 outputs (typically used as stereo, but we'll get to that in a bit)

I don't understand

There are 5 inputs (1 Mic, 4 Line-Level) and they are all "Mixed" together to form a stereo output, a Left and Right channel, hence the term "Mixer."

Oh, duh, the mixer mixes.

Right. So in your case we'll plug the Mic cable into the Mic jack 2 tracks 3 and then the guitar into one of the Line-Level inputs. In the case of the Behringer mixer it's important that we select the correct jack, there are 4 choices, but only 2 will work correctly for what we want. There are also two ways we could go about this, but I'm going to arbitrarily choose a setup that will work.

Plug your guitar into channel 3, labeled "R" 2 tracks 4

And finally we take advantage of the fact that stereo is made up of two distinct "channels". For most people in a home sound system these two channels are Left and Right, but we're going to use them as what they really are, channels 1 & 2.

The mixer conveniently sends the mic to both channels, but since we only want it to be sent to one of them we're going to pan the Mic channel fully Left

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And then set the balance of the guitar channel fully Right
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(Technically we shouldn't have to do this second step on this mixer, but for most other mixers you do, so it's a good habit to get in to so you'll always get it right no matter what piece of equipment you're using)

Now that the mixer is set up properly you need to plug the mixer into your computer. For this you'll need a Stereo Mini Male to Phone Y-Cable
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Plug the two 1/4" plugs into the mixer
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and the stereo mini plug into your computer's Line-In (or iMic if you're using one). If you're using a PowerBook then this is where you'll find the Line-In
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Consult the documentation that came with your computer to find where yours is located.

Now that we're all wired up we have to make sure the Mac is set to record from the Line-In. If you're unsure how to select the Line-In, take a look at the Backstage Quickie: How to record via the Line-In

And once that's all set we can get to the GarageBand part


We'll start by creating a New Basic track
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And then set it to use Channel 1

Click the 2 tracks 11 button to open Track Info. The input PopUp menu likely is set like this
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Click on the PopUp menu and select Channel 1(Mono)
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But wait, I want the sound to come out of both speakers, not just 1 mono speaker.

Setting it to Mono will make the sound come out of both speakers. In fact setting it to stereo will make it come out of just one.


Read the Backstage Quickie: Stereo Vs. Mono for a full explanation.

Next create another New Basic Track, but this time in Track Info select Channel 2 (Mono)

Now you're almost set to go. If you look at the GB Timeline you'll see your two tracks, with one selected
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Notice the small red circle next to the speaker icon, that's the Record Enable button. Since it's only turned on for the second track, that's the only track that will record, so click that icon in the other track so that it looks like this
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Now both tracks are "Record Enabled", in other words, ready to record. And when you do record, your voice will be on one track, and the guitar will be on the other

Which will be on which? I mean, will the mic be on track 1 or track 2?

It depends which 1/4" plug you plugged into which jack on the Mixer. This is probably the easiest arrrgh hush, part to test and change if desired. Talk into the mic, if you see it registering on track 2 and you want it on track 1, then switch the plugs on the Mixer's output (If the orange plug is in the Left output, then put it in the Right Output, and vice versa). See? Easy.

Yeah, okay, that was, and it kinda works.

Yeah, well, the guitar is recorded on the guitar track, but I also hear it on the voice track.

Don't panic. Obviously you were smart enough to turn on the Monitor for your Guitar track so that you could hear yourself


Then so could the mic.


The mic, doing its job, was picking up all the sounds in the room, your singing, as well as the guitar coming through the monitors. All you have to do is plug in a set of headphones. And as a bonus, with the headphones plugged in, you can turn on Monitor for the Vocal track as well and not get feedback

Yeah, I found out about that the hard way
Next time, come to me first.

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