How to Record Two Microphones into GarageBand

2018-04-26T01:02:57+00:00 April 3rd, 2018|Categories: Latest Articles|

The video uses the same transcript as the blog.

This does require a few pieces of equipment, which we’ll go over, and some setup you’ll need to do on your computer.

Before we jump into that I want to address a question that is asked a lot of the time. You might have a USB microphone like the Snowball or the Blue Yeti. There is oftentimes frustration if you plug two of these microphones into the same computer because the computer doesn’t recognize that they are separate devices.

The company who makes these microphones, Blue, does have a way that you can make this work. But you do need to still be under the manufacturer’s warranty, have bought it from an authorized dealer, and it can take up to 5 days to complete. I’ve left a link to their website in the description if you need more information on that.

However, if you’re wanting to increase your production value and have the means to do so I would always recommend getting an XLR microphone and using an audio interface. Let me break down those two terms

An XLR microphone is one that plugs in with an XLR cable. They look like this. They have three prongs and can transfer a better audio signal. These two microphones are plugged into an audio interface. An audio interface is usually something that looks like this. At Media Lab we’re using the Focusrite Scarlett. What this allows you to do is capture multiple audio signals. In this case, it’s two microphones, but it could also be a piano or a guitar that’s plugged in so that you could record a song.

You can get really big audio interfaces that can support 16 or more inputs at the same time. Because maybe you’re trying to create a podcast of the Last Supper.

The audio interface plugs in with a USB into the back of your computer, so it’s taking a lot of inputs and shrinking it down to one.

Now it’s time to make sure your settings are correct in GarageBand. This computer is currently running High Sierra and GarageBand 10.2.0.

If you are running previous versions of the software things may be slightly different than what I’m about to show you.

Before we do anything, I’m going to recommend that we are sure that we have turned the audio interface on. With the Scarlett, there is this button on the front that you need to press. If it’s red, then it has been turned on.

On the Mac, you can then go and click on your Apple Menu from the top left of the computer screen. Click on ‘System Preferences.’ Click on ‘Sound’ in the second row. And then make sure that under the Input heading that you have selected the Scarlett. You can also select the Scarlett in the ‘Output’ heading if you will be using headphones, which I do recommend.

Once that’s done, we’re going to open up GarageBand. On this window that opens we are going to choose an Empty Project. We are going to record using a microphone, so we’re going to select this second option. And then it gives you the traditional GarageBand interface.

Now because we’re using two microphones, we need to make sure that we have two tracks. There is this plus button symbol near the top left of our window that we can click on, which gives us that same window that appeared when we first opened GarageBand. We’re going to select the same option as before.

Near the bottom left you are going to see a heading that says Recording Settings. Because we have two microphones plugged in we need to let GarageBand know that we want each track to be picking up a different microphone. So if we click on the first track, we can see under our ‘Recording Settings’ that it is the first input. Then if we click on the second track we can make sure to change it to the second input. You would continue to do this if you had more than two microphones. 

Now comes the truly tricky part that would be nice if it were more obvious. What you need to do is to right click on one of these tracks. And the very last option is ‘Configure Track Header.’ If we select that, one of the options is ‘Record Enable.’ We are going to make sure there is a checkmark next to it. If you click anywhere outside of this pop up, it will disappear.

We can now see these two dots that have appeared. In the video example the first track has a white dot, and the second track has a red dot. The red dot indicates that that track is ready to record. But if we click on each of these dots you will see them both starting to flash red. This is what we want.

Before we push record, though, notice that near on the top of GarageBand we have these two purple selections. The one with numbers means you will be counted in before you can start recording. Unless we’re recording music we don’t really need that. The second is a metronome which would allow us to keep time if we’re recording music. Otherwise it’ll be an annoying ticking sound. I’d suggest click on both of these to deselect them.

Lastly, if it matters to you, you can also click on this drop down arrow and then select Time so that you can easily see how much time has elapsed while you’re recording your podcast, instead of the default which is measures and bars.

OK. We’re all ready to go! We can now go to the top of GarageBand and click on the red circle which means record. Down below we can see two tracks starting to be recorded.

If you run into any trouble. Click on GarageBand in the Menu Bar and select Preferences. Under the ‘Audio/MIDI’ option, make sure the the Output and Input Device  are what you want them to be.