two track laptop recording


I have a notebook with separate mic-in and line-in. Is it possible to realtime record two track with two mics and then switch between the channels during playback? One close mic would record voice commentary and a more remote mic would record ambient sound.

You will only be able to record either Mic or Line In at once. However, since both are stereo, you can record a left channel and right channel onto different tracks at the same time. This will require some kind of mixer.

Bring both mics into your mixer as tracks 1 and 2 and then line out of your mixer to line in of the sound card.

Channel 1 of the mixer would be the close mic. Pan it hard left. Channel 2 of the mixer would record the ambient sound. Pan it hard right. Assign track 1 in ntrack as Line in Left, track 2 as line in Right.

I am not sure what you mean by “switch between the channels during playback”. If you mean that you want to fade out the voice commentary and bring up the ambient sound and then go the other way-yes, you can do that.

The easiest thing to do would be to buy mixer with built in preamps for the mics. Also I would suggest getting one with 48V phantom power in case you end up using a condenser mic. This type of mixer can be had for less than $100 U.S.

Beware! The mic input on a notebook is NOT stereo!

In order to do a recording like you proposed you will need a mixer with several mic inputs connected to the line input of the notebook.

regards, Nils

More on this here:…;t=1372


Mic inputs on laptops are not stereo? Is this common? Guess I have only used Line In to record on any computer.

I don’t remember seeing a stereo mic input on any laptop.

Creative Labs makes a pcmcia soundcard, which I guess is like having two sound cards but I haven’t investigated that. If it is like two cards, would using that allow a true two mic recording in ntrack without a separate mixer? I would like to keep the rig as compact as possible. Thanks for the earlier replies. Not many computer store guys know about this stuff.

I haven’t seen a stereo mike input on any computer.

Regardless, you probably won’t be happy with the sound quality of the mike preamp on a built-in soundcard (laptop or whatever). They usually pick up lots of noise inside the computer, and they aren’t very good preamps either. In addition, you have to use them with high-impedance (cheap) microphones.

You might get away with it since it’s just voice, not music. But since you want ambient sound, I get the impression you want a good sounding result, not something that sounds like it came out of a blender. On the other hand, for the sake of portability … well, you’re still stuck with only one preamp.

Consider the M-Audio Mobile Pre, which connects via USB, gets its power from USB, and provides two mike inputs. Then you’ll need two mikes and cables. The mikes and cables will take up as much room as the rest of the gear.

Once you’ve recorded it, you can fade between the two tracks, or blend them, or enhance with reverb and other effects, to your heart’s content (in n-Track). You can produce a mono result or a nicely imaged stereo result. The possibilities are endless. Expect to spend some time.

Well, keep in mind that I have already been wrong once in this thread but when I look at the manual for the Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS Notebook (PCMCIA), it shows a 1/8" stereo input for the MIC IN.

You could make or find an adaptor cable with 2 mic connectors on one end and 1/8" stereo on the other. Making sure that one of the mic signals comes in only to the Tip and sleeve of the 1/8" connector and the other to the ring and sleeve.

Sound Blaster->Audigy2->Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook

Don’t know if you can get a good enough signal from your mics without a preamp into a card like this?..

The Creative is still a mono mic input.


Audigy 2 audio device
Audio Inputs

Multipurpose input, used for analog line-level input, mono microphone input, or optical SPDIF, for 3.50 mm (1/8-inch) connectors

My old Thinkpad 385 has a stereo mic input. Yes it is stereo. I’ve been using it to record my live gigs for about 3 years.


I’m still a big fan of the USB implementation for laptops if 2 channels is all you are after. My sons Tascam US-122 performs reliably and sounds great! I use it at 24/48 all the time with my laptop and n-Track for church and stuff. Good unit. The built-in sound in my Dell 9100 lappy is LOUSY! Sounds like poo and is VERY noisy!



The Creative is still a mono mic input.

Phoo, I see the MONO mic reference you are talking about now. but they also show a picture of a mic going into that input with a stereo connector.

Connecting Related Peripherals->Creating Music

It’s a combination input, that is shared by mic, line, and digital. If you plug in a stereo mic and select mic as the recording souce you’ll get only one side.


Yeah. I agree.

OK, I have been doing somthing like this for several years now and have experimented a lot.
You will want to use the line in jack and you will need a preamp to get decent sound. I have used a mixer and I have used a old cassette tape deck with 2 1/4" mic inputs.
I bought some connecting gizmos from radio shack and wired it all up.
You can run two mikes into a sterio line in with a splitter cable.
Then use n-trak to split the sterio track into two seperate mono tracks after it is recorded.
I have even done this with one mic ambient and a direct line out of the guitar amp. This gave us a killer live gutar trak to multi track with and a track to listen to through headphones while recording or just keep as a live mix.
I have found the room is most important for good sound.