Tutorial - Recording Multi-track Overdubs

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This set of tutorials describes known, good, working methods of creating a multiple sound track overdubbing session in Audacity. That is, you record one track and then play it and add a second track against it -- drums, guitar, voice; repeat as needed. You will be able to hear a mix of your live recording and the previous tracks simultaneously in your headphones (essential for overdubbing). Generally, purpose-built hardware is needed to hear your live recording without unacceptable playthrough latency - without that hardware you will hear what you are recording too late. Failing that, a method for overdubbing using your computer's on-board sound card is given too.
Tip In Audacity, by default, using the Record button image of Record button will append record onto your existing track, see the Recording page.
  • In order to record on a new track, for multi-track overdubbing, you will need to use Shift and the Record new track button The Record New Track button, or use its shortcut Shift + R.
  • You can change this in Recording Preferences by checking "on" the "Record on a new track", doing this will make Audacity record on a new track with just the Record button and Shift and The Record on same Track button will append record onto your existing track.

Multi-track overdubbing

This tutorial is a generalized tutorial on multi-track overdubbing.

Tutorial - Multi-track Overdubbing

For specific cases of working with different hardware setups please see below.

Overdubbing with specialist hardware

The following tutorials explain the creation of multi-track overdubs using three different specialist hardware configurations.

  • A USB microphone pre-amp with one XLR microphone input and a mini-jack headphone socket.
Overdubbing with a Shure\xc2\xae X2U Microphone Amplifier-USB Adapter
  • A stereo, line level, USB audio interface.
Overdubbing with a Behringer\xc2\xae UCA202 Stereo bidirectional USB audio interface
  • A USB microphone.
Overdubbing with a Samson\xc2\xae G-Track USB Microphone

All three have been hands-on tested. They can be made to work on Linux\xc2\xae, Mac\xc2\xae, and Windows\xc2\xae.

The one "magic" feature of all three devices is the ability to mix your live voice with the computer's rhythm track so you can hear the mixed musical performance and that can only happen if the rhythm track is available.

Overdubbing using your computer's on-board sound card

This is designed to help if your equipment does not have hardware playthrough and Audible input monitoring/software playthrough is not an option. You may not be able to hear yourself during the recording.

Overdubbing using your computer's on-board sound card

Further Help

If, no matter what you do, the show sounds terrible or does not work at all, drop in to the Forum where we can try to help you further. Registration is required to post and you may need to wait before your posting appears.

At minimum, you will need to tell us: exactly which version of Audacity you are using (that means the full three-part number, for example 2.0.0), what kind of computer you have and which operating system it uses. Do not head straight to the details of the problem without telling us what you are producing and why. Be prepared to tell us how the straight recording session went - the one you did before you tried overdubbing.

Help > Diagnostics > Audio Device Info may give us useful diagnostic information, but if you post it, please post it between [code] [/code] tags.