I learned that each channel controls a separate musical instrument or voice or synth patch, and therefore determines a separate timbre.

Then when playing an audio file, which shows only one channel in Audaciy, why can we hear both the singer's singing and the instruments' accompaniment? Can a single channel produce several timbres? Or is the statement in the previous paragraph not for audio but for MIDI?

  • I think it refers to MIDI channels.
    – n00dles
    Jul 5, 2015 at 3:12

1 Answer 1


When recording, each "timbre," in the sense that you're using of, instrument or voice, is generally recorded to a separate track so adjustments can be made to each individually in a software that looks a lot like audacity...


Once adjusted and prior to the music being released, all the individual tracks must be "mixed down" into usually a stereo format, leaving only two channels (L and R) that contain sums of all the instruments and vocals. Your audio player, radio, or audacity can then play back those two channels, but it can't separate out the original instruments without special processing, and even then only in some cases.

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