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How to Record a Podcast With Multiple People

A series of audio interfaces

In our last podcast article, we looked at how to get up and running with a simple one mic set-up, using a USB microphone and free software. But you might want to capture audio of more than one person - conduct interviews, speak with special guests, work as a commentary team, or have numerous hosts. If you want to record multiple people, in the same room at the same time, the best way is using an audio interface equipped with multiple inputs combined with traditional microphones. This configuration will offer the most flexibility in both the recording and editing phases.

You might be wondering what an audio interface does? Your computer doesn’t have the correct inputs to accommodate the audio connections found on most microphones. An audio interface is a piece of external hardware with this connectivity, allowing you to plug in a microphone, guitar or bass and record a signal to your computer via a USB or Thunderbolt cable. Interfaces come with all sorts of input and output configurations, so it's pretty easy to find one that has the number of inputs you require. Along with inputs for microphones and instruments they often include direct outputs for speakers, headphones, and routing audio signals to other devices.

Using an Audio Interface Allows You a Full Spectrum of Options, Both Pre and Post Recording.

Once you've got a way to record yourself into your computer, you need microphones! There is an amazing and rapidly growing subsection of mics, designed specifically for podcasting. Brands like RODE have built a global reputation for developing high-quality podcast-specific solutions and other big players like Shure, Audio Technica, Sennheiser and more are all manufacturing microphones for the podcasting market. The great thing about using an audio interface is that because you're not restricted to USB microphones your selection options are massive and you'll be able to find something to suit your budget.

Most broadcast-style microphones are Dynamic microphones and have characteristics like great off-axis noise rejection and that "radio voice" type sound. For this setup, we've used two Dynamic mics, the RODE Procaster, which has an awesome set of features including a built-in pop filter and the Audio Technica ATM510, a versatile vocal mic.

The other element that's changed from the previous article is we've used Ableton Live as our recording software. Live offers an upgrade in terms of multitrack recording and post-production. You can multitrack (record multiple inputs at once) with GarageBand if you're a Mac user and Audacity can record two inputs simultaneously, but it's slightly more complicated as it involves recording a split stereo track and then dividing that into two separate mono tracks. Ableton Live isn't free software, but there are different versions you can purchase depending on your needs and the most affordable version "Intro" allows up to 16 tracks of audio, which is plenty for a podcast. There's also a version called "Lite", which has similar functionality to Intro as is often included free, with popular hardware products (including some audio interfaces).

That being said, the setup and configuration shown below should translate to most Digital Audio Workstations or whatever recording software you have available, as the principles behind what we're doing are the same - tell the software to receive audio from the audio interface then record into the software.

broadcast microphone with headphones in the background

Get Started With These 10 Steps


Connect your audio interface to the computer, in this case, we're using the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo, which connects via USB Type A and is USB bus-powered, so requires no external power supply. The type of connection and power requirements will depend on your interface. Once it's powered up, open Ableton Live and you will get the default project with two audio tracks and two MIDI tracks. We don't need the MIDI tracks so you can delete them if you like. From here click on the "Live" menu and select "Preferences".


In the Preferences menu, we can tell Live from which source we want to recieve incoming audio. Click on the Audio Input Device drop-down box and you should see the name of your audio interface. In the image you can see it shows our interface as "PreSonus AudioBox iTwo (2 In, 2 Out)", select the interface as the Input Device. If you don't see your interface as an input option, firstly try rebooting Ableton, if that doesn't work you may need to install a driver for the interface. Drivers are usually located on the product manufacturer's website and the product manual should direct you to do this if necessary.

Ableton Live preferences screen

With your Input Device set to the audio interface, click on the "Input Config" button and check that the Mono Inputs are enabled (they'll be yellow if enabled). You can also see we only have the option for inputs 1 & 2, this is because the AudioBox iTwo only has two inputs. If your interface has more than two inputs you will see those appear in this menu and if you wish to record via those inputs, you need to make sure they're enabled as well. But for this purpose, we're only multitracking two mics, so two inputs are fine! Also, back in the main Preferences window, set your In/Out Sample Rate to 44100, if it's not already.

Ableton Live input configuration screen

In the Preferences menu, you can also change your output options. If you set the Audio Output Device to your interface, you'll need to have external speakers connected to the outputs on the back or use the dedicated headphone out. Otherwise, if you set it to "Built-in Output", you'll hear everything through the output of your computer speakers. We'd also recommend you run through Ableton's basic setup tutorial. Turn on "Help View" in the "View" menu, which should open up a window on the left-hand side of the Ableton screen, from there scroll down to "Audio I/O", this useful tutorial will run you through selecting latency settings, Sample Rates and more.

Ableton Live input and output device selection screen

Plug your mics into two inputs on your audio interface and make sure the gain knobs for each input are turned up. If your interface has a small button with a picture of an instrument or says "Instrument" or "Inst." next to the input, make sure it's switched off. This boosts the input when using something like a guitar and we don't need it for microphones. Additionally, if you know your microphone is a Condenser (it will say so on the box) it will require "Phantom Power", so you'll need to switch this on, it's usually a button labelled as "48V" or something similar.

Audio interface front controls

We want to assign each input to its own audio track, so we can record the mics to separate tracks and edit them individually. On the first audio track click the dropdown menu above "Monitor" and select one of the inputs that you've just plugged your mics into. In our case our mics are plugged into inputs 1 & 2 on our interface, so on this first audio track we're selecting the input "1" (Not "1/2" - this is stereo recording). You should see some green level coming through on the small meter next to the input number. Do the same thing on the second track but select the input as "2". You now should have the audio from each mic coming through on its own channel.

Selecting an input channel in Ableton Live

Click the record arm button at the bottom of audio track 1, then CMD + Click (Mac) / Ctrl + Click (PC) the record arm button on audio track 2 to arm them both. The tracks are now ready to record. If you're using the headphone output on the interface to monitor while recording or monitoring "through the air" choose "Off" under the "Monitor" section. If you want to monitor via Ableton Live choose "Auto". Be aware, monitoring via Ableton will probably incur latency, meaning you'll hear a small delay or echo (Latency settings are covered in Live's "Audio I/O" tutorial, mentioned in Step 4).

Selecting Monitor options in Ableton

Speak into the mics and make sure your levels are good. You can adjust the recording level using the gain knobs on the interface. Make sure to give yourself some leeway as your speaking volume may change during the conversation. Check the meter in Ableton isn't peaking (turning red) and switch to the Arrangement view by hitting "Tab". This is a more traditional audio tracking layout. Hit record on the transport controls (top centre of the window). You should see the waveform for both channels tracking across the screen as you continue to record.

Recording audio in Ableton's arrangement view

You can stop, reset the play head and pickup recording again at any point. Once you're done, you can edit and process each recorded track individually, add extra tracks for music, sound effects, background elements, dialogue and more. To export, we suggest setting the In and Out points (start and end) of your audio. You do this using the loop brackets. Highlight the audio you want to include in your final export and hit CMD + L (Mac) or Ctrl + L (PC) and brackets will appear around the selection. You can click and drag both sides to adjust.

Selecting audio for export in Ableton

To export your finished audio go to File > Export Audio/Video. You won't need to do too much with the options in this window, but generally, as you recorded at a sample rate of 44100, export at the same setting. Under file type, WAV or AIFF are common output options but will result in larger files. You can export to MP3 by checking the Encode MP3 (CBR 320) box.

Export screen in Ableton

Looking for the right audio interface?

Below are some of our recommendations for an audio interface. All of these options will help you follow along with the steps shown here and offer great quality sound at a variety of price ranges. Grab the right gear to ensure your podcasts sound the best they can!

Ready to get your podcast up and running? Check out the full range of podcasting equipment and specialised bundles available at Mannys by clicking here.

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