Record multiple USB Microphones

Mac Settings - Set up multiple USB mics

How USB Microphones Work

Normally by plugging in a USB microphone you are turning that sound device into the primary. The secondary or tertiary sound source is not the default, but can be used.

16 bit vs 24 bit sound card

I covered this in the article on The important part is when you use multiple USB mics they all need to be at the same bitrate as the others. Its not that you cannot try using different rates but that could cause problems in the recordings. Its best to have all USB microphones at the same bitrate (most USB mic are at 16 bit but higher end ones can bump up to 24 bit).

It also depends on the computer. 24 bit mics use more resource because they are collecting more data. If you put 2-3 USB microphones into the mix, the computer might have problems keeping up or one mic might show latency over the other.

One thing to point out: Right now I am saying “Microphone” but a USB device can also be a mixer – like the M-Audio or Edirol mixers I talked about in an earlier post. The original soundcard can also be incorporated into this process.

Virtual Audio CableWhich Audio Programs Can Use Multiple USB Microphones?

Even though you can connect microphones, you might not be able to use them on your program. It seems that any program that can do a multitrack record are able to record multiple USB mics. Each mic will end up taking a single channel. If you have a stereo mix then one mic will be on the left channel and one on the right.

Garageband, Adobe Audition, Audacity, Sony Acid, Cubase are some of the programs that will let you set up multiple track recording.

How to Set Up Multiple Mics for Use in Podcast – Mac

Alesis IO Mix

Keep in mind, this is Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Earlier versions settings will be slightly different. Open up the Audio MIDI Setup (In Go > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup). You will see your input and output devices.

Plug in your USB mic and you will see it show up in this panel. The microphone can take up more than one input and output channel. That is how USB mixers will work – they could take 3-4 channels (or more) for input and output. You can then multi-record.

Here is where the magic comes in:

On the bottom left – choose the + - then Create Aggregate Device (this may be in the preferences if you have an older version of OS X). A Blue plus will show up. when you select that device, you will get checkboxes on the right. Choose all your mics you want to use.

You can setup input and output devices. Keep in mind – the maximum number of input/output devices for USB is 127 (this is the limitation of the USB bus). I would guess you could go past that if you used Firewire or Thunderbolt audio devices. I am guessing 127 USB mics will take up too much resources and freeze your computer.

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Samson Meteorite review | USB Microphone | TrustedReviews  — TrustedReviews
The Samson Meteorite is a cracking little portable USB microphone that will be perfect for those that want to take the first step towards higher quality audio recordings. It's incredibly portable, easy to use and provides good quality sound.

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