MacMost Now 539: Multiple Mics With GarageBand

You can record multiple microphones each into its own track in GarageBand. First you must set up an aggregate device using the Audio MIDI Setup utility. Then you need to enable multitrack recording in GarageBand and give each track a channel from the aggregate device. To get all microphones working well it takes some trial and error.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary Rosenzweig. In today's episode let me show you how to record in Garage Band with multiple microphones. The first thing we need to do is looking at Applications folder under utilities for Audio MIDI setup.This is the utility you need to configure more than one microphone to be used as a sound input at the same time.Now in here you see a list of all of your input and output devices.So for instance I add a Blue Snowball microphone, it also has the iMic USB attachment here and I have got a microphone coming into that.I also have a headset,a punch on its headset that shows up labelled unknown USB audio device but it has 1 input like them and 2 outputs.Keep in mind you should be using USB mikes or a converter like iMic USB adapter to have your microphones coming to a usb.If you just plug in a standard microphone into your line input it is probably not gona work because it is not a powered microphone jack. So to use all of these three at once I need to go down to the plus button, click that to create the total Aggregate Device you can see down here at the bottom and on the right side I have aggregate device selected I can see
all of my audio inputs. I wana add the ones I am gona use.I wana do this in a certain order.I am gona select Blue Snowball first.It reaches to the top.Then I am gona add the iMic .Now notice that I have got here one device that's the two sound outputs.I want the one below that.It's the one sound input.Some devices are like that they seperate theor inputs and outputs and then here is the headset.I am going to add that and that combined is one input and two output.So have got all three of these together under the Aggregate Device. I can tweak right there and I could see them all listed under that one device. So the order of the device is important.For instance if you had a mono mic and a streo mic and you put the mono mic first that would be trap one and the streo mic would be stuck at track two and three.And you can't choose two and three for a line streo type. So you wana go with the opposite way so that you could get the tracks set right in Garage Band.Now here I am in Garage Band. I am going to go to Garage Band preferences and I am going to go to Audio MIDI. Am going to select as input aggregate device. So the next thing I am gona do is add three real instruments creating three tracks. One for each microphone.Select the first track here and under the input source on the right I am going to select which one I want. Notice that there are four different mono inputs here because we're using up all streo.That is why I put it first.So I can then choose streo one two for the Snowball and but that into one track and the input source for this one could be mono three and mono four to correspond with the other two microphones we used.The next thing and a extremely important steo is that I am gona into Track and enable Multitrack recording.It gives me a record button to the next of each of these and I could select each one so that now each one of these two microphones is recording.You can see two of them picking up my voice right now even though its accross the room.
Now even though I have recording of all three tracks and their microphoes, some of the qualities is just horrible.That's because you need to make some adjustments inside Audio Device setup and this has to be flexible.You need to kind of figure out what settings are best for different mics.So yo have the resample checkbox here. I could turn that off for the usb my iMic and try recording with those settings.And try recording with all three resamples.Also you notice that I wana go in each one I can select a format. So I could actually have tried with different format with all of these.fort yeight and fortyfour point one.You have to basically keep trying different settings between these and the resample checkbox until you're getting nice thin recording from all thee microphones. And after you adjust the settings before you record anything usually have to go into preferences again.Change the audio output device to something else like take the system setting and after it does that change it back to the aggregate device to kind of reinitialize. I have e fventually found that setting each one to forty four point one and having none of them turn on the resample got me a nice clean sound from all three microphone and three different tracks here in Garage Band.It takes a lot of patience.Sometimes you may have to restart the garage Band for recognizing the changes that you have made to the aggregate devce. But with a little bit of trial and error I find that you could always get multiple microphones working nicely and smoothly in your own tracks in Garage Band. Till next time this is Gary Rosenzweig.

Comments: 43 Responses to “MacMost Now 539: Multiple Mics With GarageBand”

    4/21/11 @ 1:24 am

    This video was incredibly helpful, thank you very much. It worked well for me. The tip about changing the audio input setting in GB to reset was particularly helpful.

    8/17/11 @ 10:16 am

    Thanks Gary. I’ve been sweating about making this work and switching the resample options is helpful. Do you have any advice about two Blue Snowflake mics becoming awful and electronic after a few minutes? Any help would be great.

      8/17/11 @ 12:07 pm

      Sorry, I don’t use those. Haven’t heard anything but good things about them, though.

      1/9/12 @ 9:39 am

      James – Did you ever figure this out? I have the same problem with my new Blue Snowball microphone. After a few minutes, I hear a lot of distortion or something. I usually have to unplug then plug back in to get it sounding ok again.

        2/18/12 @ 1:24 am

        I’ve had the same problem twice. After recording, I always give what was recorded a quick listen through. The audio becomes distorted, echo like, very unbearable to listen to. I have two Yeti mics connected directly into my Mac. Has anyone figured it out?

    10/5/11 @ 6:59 am

    Got 2 Yeti Blue mics and I’m using Garageband ’08. Isn’t working. Any advice? Do I have to update my Garageband? Both Mics seem to show 2 input and 2 output devices. Very confusing.

      10/5/11 @ 7:01 am

      It should work with 08 (but why not upgrade anyway?).
      Did you create the aggregate device?

    10/5/11 @ 8:07 am

    Yes, I did everything you said but the kicker is when I open up the Aggregate Device Editor each Yeti mic shows up as 2 “In” and 2 “Out”. I’ve followed your instructions thoroughly but can’t seem to get the 2 mics on 2 seperate tracks. Seems easy enough but…

    btw, thanks for the quick reply

      10/5/11 @ 8:28 am

      Not sure. Hard to advise without being able to try it myself. 2 in means that they are stereo mics. But you should still be able to do this. Experiment and play around with it.

    10/5/11 @ 8:30 am

    Thanks Gary. Wanted to mention the reason there are 2 outputs is because there is a headphones jack on the Yeti mic itself, which I’m assuming is in stereo as well.
    I think I might upgrade garageband through my ipad – its cheaper

      10/5/11 @ 8:32 am

      Note that GarageBad for the iPad and GarageBand for the Mac are two different apps. They do different things. You can do a lot more with the Mac app than with the iPad app. But there are some fun things you can do with the iPad app as well.

    10/5/11 @ 8:53 am

    All I want to do is record a conversation between 2 to 3 people on seperate mics. Is this possible through the ipad version?

      10/5/11 @ 8:58 am

      Not without more hardware (a mixing board). And probably some special way to connect the board to the iPad via USB (no audio in besides the headphone jack). I’m not sure it is possible at all on the iPad unless someone has come out with a special connector and board specifically for this.

    1/31/12 @ 3:22 pm

    I’d like to record vocals and an acoustic guitar simultaneously in GB. Does it matter if the two mic’s are mono or stereo? I haven’t bought the mic’s yet but if I know what would be best it would at least help me know what I am looking for.

      1/31/12 @ 3:56 pm

      Mono or stereo shouldn’t make a difference. But it is hard to use two independent mics (two USB connections) to record music. If one is .1 seconds slower than the other in converting the analog audio to digital, then your recording will be bad.
      Instead, I would get a USB mixing board to do it properly. Two mics go into it, one USB out. The audio is in sync.

    3/2/12 @ 11:55 pm

    Is there a way to do this with Garageband ’06?

    Steve Podraza
    3/31/12 @ 5:19 pm

    Hey Gary! Great Video!
    Question: So I have two USB microphone headsets. Both work perfectly. When I try to use both of them (both plugged into USB ports) ONLY one headset is recognized? I can’t get past the Aggregate Audio Step. Have any idea?



      3/31/12 @ 6:00 pm

      If you have both plugged in, then both should be there.

        4/1/12 @ 7:38 am

        Same thing happening to me

    4/15/12 @ 4:59 pm

    I set up my Aggregate device but it isn’t showing up as an option in the garage band settings. Any idea why?

    5/24/12 @ 12:01 pm

    Great video.

    This may have solved some recording issues I am having right now.

    Thank you!

    6/15/12 @ 7:44 am

    I DID IT! I managed to record with two Blue Snowball microphones! Originally, I bought two of the same type of Blue Snowball mics – both brushed aluminum. When I went to plug them both in and set up in Audio/MIDI Setup, it would only read one mic, not both. However, I plugged in my friend’s white Blue Snowball mic and BOTH were able to be read by my MacBook Air! I guess it has something to do with thinking the two separate Blue Snowballs are the same mic because they’re both the same kind? I don’t know. Either way, I’m now recording with TWO mics instead of sharing ONE Blue Snowball microphone! HUZZAH!

    7/18/12 @ 1:22 pm

    Hey Gary I need some help. I bought two Samson R21S Dynamic microphones, 2 3D USB Sound cards, and a USB hub. I’m trying to plug the two microphones into the sound cards, and the sound cards into the hub so I can record with multiple microphones. I couldn’t get them to work together so I figured I’d try one at a time. Going into System Preferences on my Mac and looking at Sound, I can’t get any levels off the microphones, even by themselves. Is there some setting in the computer I need to change in order to get the computer to hear the audio? Thanks.

      7/18/12 @ 3:04 pm

      I’d try to contact the manufacturer for support. Maybe you have bad units.

        7/18/12 @ 3:22 pm

        The microphones are bad or the sound cards are bad?

          7/18/12 @ 3:40 pm

          Impossible for me to say. I’,m not quite sure what you mean by sound cards — a card is something you would plug into a Mac Pro or a PC tower, but you say you are plugging them into USB? So they are really USB audio interfaces? I’d start by contacting the maker of those.

            7/18/12 @ 4:08 pm

            I’ve decided my hook up is too complicated. I’m going to return everything and start fresh. Have you heard anything good about Samson Go mics? I’m making a cartoon and need to record voices, and I don’t have much money to spend. I found them on Amazon for $40.

              7/18/12 @ 4:35 pm

              Haven’t heard anything about them. Maybe consider a USB headset. It keeps the mic the same distance from your mouth while you move. It gets in the way when doing video, but for non-video it works best.

                7/18/12 @ 4:55 pm

                Do you have any recommendations for USB headsets. I really want it to have a good microphone, but again, I can’t spend too much. I need to get two of them.

                  7/18/12 @ 4:58 pm

                  There are a lot and I haven’t really reviewed them. The one I have is a Plantronics and it might be the best mic I have. I think I spent about $100 on it, but they have cheaper models too. Mic quality is important (Pros often say that the most important part of video is audio) so I would try to get as good quality as you can.

    10/4/12 @ 12:31 pm

    Hey Gary, is there a way to do this with xlr mics through an audio mixer? I have 2 xlr mics, and I also need a way to connect my iPhone to the board. I have a mono cable for the iPhone that runs into my input 3 on the board, but Garageband keeps saying that I need a different input channel.

      10/4/12 @ 2:51 pm

      Depends on the board. There are those specifically made for this sort of thing. I’d ask an audio/board expert to recommend one.

    11/24/12 @ 11:26 pm

    Thanks for the tip about putting the stereo input device first in the aggregate list. I had put my Apogee Mic first, Scarlett 2i2 second and was getting very frustrated trying to record a stereo piano track with the Scarlett. Problem solved!

    12/22/12 @ 4:50 pm

    Hey. Same problem as a few other people….

    2 Yeti Pro mics (using USB, converting to XLR soon)

    MacBook Air only recognizes one at a time.

    Which ever is plugged in last, that is the one the Macbook Air recognizes.

    Would like to troubleshoot with out having to buy a new mic or usb mixer. I’ll buy both eventually, just not too soon.


      12/22/12 @ 5:24 pm

      Did you try the “aggregate device” method in the video?
      Have you tried contacting the manufacturer? They may have some advice.

    12/23/12 @ 5:04 pm

    Wrote the manufacturer. Waiting to hear back.

    Tried the “aggregate device,” but again, the system only recognizes one — which ever is plugged in last. If I unplug the second, it will default to the first. Plug the second back in and thats the one the system picks up.

    Hoping the manufacturer, Blue, has a better solution than “buy a mixer” which I’m going to do, but after the holidays.

    1/6/13 @ 7:29 pm

    I followed the video and it doesn’t work with 3 mics. I have 3 Samson meteor mics and have successfully set it up with 2, but when I try all 3 it doesn’t work. Do you have any idea why?

      1/6/13 @ 8:12 pm

      Impossible to say without troubleshooting it first-hand. Try different things. Experiment. Consult with an expert in person, maybe.

    1/7/13 @ 10:34 am

    Hey Gary,

    Pulled the trigger on an Alesis Multimix 8 USB FX Mixer. Coupled with the two Yeti Pro mics and using XLR — its sounds ok.

    Was wondering… anyway to get garageband to to pick up the two mics I have plugged into the mixer separately? In other words, Can the mics have their own tracks or will they converge into one track?

      1/7/13 @ 10:37 am

      A good USB mixer will do exactly that. But I’m not sure about this one — I think you need the Firewire version for that. Check the specs and it should say.

    1/10/13 @ 12:42 pm

    I spent 30 minutes on the phone today with Apple support trying to find out how to get two mics recording in Garageband. I was told it was not possible and maybe it could feature in a updated version.

    Thanks to you, within 10 minutes I am up and running!!

    Many thanks!!

    1/27/13 @ 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial, it was very helpful for setting up my podcast for the first time.

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