Audacity is a straightforward and effective DAW that can be used to record, mix, or transfer audio. One issue that users may face when transferring recordings into the software, is their built-in microphone also picking up sound.
How to mute a microphone in Audacity – this requires an understanding of the software’s layout and functionality.
Firstly, you’ll need to check that the correct recording device is selected within Audacity’s menu. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you need to ensure that you are using a suitable connection.
Most people transfer audio into Audacity so that they can improve the sound quality and edit specific aspects of the files. If your computer’s inbuilt microphone is recording at the same time as the transfer, this will inevitably diminish the quality of the audio and make it much more difficult to mix.
Thankfully, there are some simple methods you can use to troubleshoot the issue, which we will cover in detail in this guide.
Muting a Built-In Microphone in Audacity
When you open Audacity, unless you’ve changed the audio settings within the preferences menu, the software will revert to its default settings. This means it will automatically select the output device (speakers or headphones) and the input device (microphone).
One of Audacity’s biggest strengths as a digital audio workstation is that it makes transferring audio into its sequencer very easy. Once the audio has been transferred, you can make use of the plethora of effects and processing tools that are built into the software, or use external plugins of your choice.
Transferring recordings into Audacity is achieved using the same process as recording with a microphone. To select the input device for recording, you need to follow this process:
- Click on the ‘Device Toolbar’
- Open the drop-down menu under ‘Recording Device’
- Select the microphone or input device you want to use
- Hit record
In some versions of Audacity, the ‘Device Toolbar’ may not be visible on the main screen of the software. If this is the case, you’ll need to follow these instructions:
- Open the ‘View’ tab
- Click ‘Toolbars’
- Open ‘Device Toolbar’
If you’re an experienced Audacity user, the chances are you’ll already have tried the above method. After selecting the input device you’d like to use for transferring your recordings into Audacity, what should you do if the problem persists and your inbuilt microphone is still recording?
The first thing I’d suggest you do is to check that ‘Stereo Mix’ is not selected in the ‘Device Toolbar’. If this setting is turned on, it may result in your computer’s onboard microphone being included in the recordings alongside your chosen input device.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll likely need to change the settings on your computer or laptop rather than adjusting the settings within Audacity.
How to Turn off Your PC’s Onboard Microphone
If you’ve checked the audio input settings in Audacity’s ‘Device Toolbar’, but the problem of the inbuilt microphone recording persists, you’ll need to go into the settings on your computer or laptop.
If you’re using a PC, you can simply type “sound” into the search bar which is usually located in the bottom left of the screen. The computer will find ‘Sound Settings’. Open this, and you will be presented with several adjustable settings related to your PC’s audio setup.
At the top of the menu, you should see ‘Choose your output device’.
You can ignore this setting, as this won’t affect the recordings or transfers you make in Audacity. Further down the menu, you will find ‘Input’. This is where you can select the microphones or recording devices for computer uses by default.
- Check that the input device that is selected is the one you want to use to transfer audio into Audacity, and not the computer’s inbuilt microphone.
- If the inbuilt microphone was selected, this could be the reason that it is still recording despite not being selected in Audacity.
If the input device you’d like to use is already selected, you may need to take an additional measure to stop the inbuilt microphone from recording in Audacity.
Open the ‘Manage sound devices’ tab, and scroll down to ‘Input devices’. Here, you will find all of the microphones and recording devices that are recognized by your computer. This may include your audio interface, any external mics, and the inbuilt microphone.
Find the inbuilt microphone in the ‘Input devices’ menu. When you select it, a ‘Disable’ button should appear. Clicking on this will essentially disconnect the inbuilt microphone from your computer, and prevent it from being used in Audacity.
Now, you can go back into Audacity and attempt once again to transfer the audio into the software.
The inbuilt microphone should no longer be recording providing you’ve followed the aforementioned steps, leaving your desired recording device to transfer the recording without interference.
This YouTube video explains how to set up microphones in Audacity.
External Microphones & Audacity
When transferring audio into Audacity, you’ll need to connect an external device to your computer or laptop.
The best way to do this is with an audio interface. The output of your external device needs to be connected to the input on your audio interface, then it can be recorded into Audacity’s sequencer.
If you’re using an audio interface to record into Audacity, you’ll need to make sure the device is selected as the primary input device. If the onboard microphone from your computer is selected, or an external USB mic is selected, these devices will record alongside or instead of the interface.
I have written an article on USB microphones. You can read it here.
Audio interfaces commonly have multiple inputs.
If you already have a microphone connected to one of the inputs, and the other is being used to record the output from your external device, you’ll need to make sure the correct channel is selected in Audacity.
For example, let’s say you’re attempting to record audio from a CD player into Audacity. You’ve plugged a cable into the aux output on the CD player, and connected the other end to one of the inputs on your audio interface.
In Audacity’s sequencer, you’ll need to check that the input for that channel correlates with the input that the line out from the CD player is connected to.
If the wrong channel is selected, an external microphone that is plugged into the other input will record audio.
If you don’t have an external microphone connected to the other input on your audio interface, this will lead to no audio being recorded when that input is selected on the Audacity track you have selected.
The simplest way to prevent an external microphone from recording is to unplug it, mute the input and check that the correct input is selected in the audio track in Audacity.
Likewise, if you have a USB mic connected to your computer or laptop, you can simply disconnect this device whilst transferring the audio from your CD player or another external device to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with the recording.
Line Inputs & Audacity Recordings
If your computer or laptop has a line input, you may not require an audio interface to transfer recordings into Audacity. Most tape recorders, CD players, record players, or MP3 players have line outputs that can be directly sent to a line input for recording.
This connection is commonly made using a mini-jack cable. One end of the cable is plugged into the line output on the source device, and the other end is connected to the line input on your computer/laptop.
One of the issues with this type of connection is that it is often prone to noise issues.
Audio interfaces have input with preamps, which prepare the audio signal to be received by Audacity or any other DAW. This ensures a clean recording with minimal interference.
If you’re connecting your external device directly to the PC, this increases the chance of the inbuilt microphone still recording whilst transferring audio into Audacity.
When an audio interface is selected as the primary input device, this usually overrides the inbuilt microphone and prevents the issue from occurring.
That’s why it’s so important to ensure the correct input is selected in Audacity’s menu and the sound menu of your computer.
How many tracks can I record in Audacity?
Audacity is capable of recording a maximum of 16 tracks from a single sound device. The software is unable to record more than one sound device at a time, and multiple versions of Audacity cannot be used simultaneously.
How do you add new tracks in Audacity?
Creating a new track in Audacity requires you to select the ‘Tracks’ tab from the top menu. Then, you’ll need to select ‘Add New’. This presents you with the choice of four types of tracks – mono, stereo, time, and label.
Can you add external plugins to Audacity?
Audacity allows users to add external VST plugins to the software’s library. This increases the functionality of Audacity and provides you with additional effects and processing tools for mixing audio.