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To explain - I am an actor. I like to learn my lines by recording myself reading everyone else's lines on the right track, and all my lines on the left track.
That way, on playback, I can mute the left track and listen to the right track, saying my lines in the gaps (and unmute left when I forget).

I used to have a cumbersome bit of kit that would do this with the flick of a switch, but surely there must be a recording program that will allow me to pan the input hard R/L without it.

I would like to accomplish this hard input panning with one or, at worst, two clicks/keystrokes while I am recording.

I have Audacity, but I just can't work out how to do it with that. If anyone knows of a preferably free Windows program that will do this, I would love to hear about it.

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    Having read your question, the answer and comments several times I still don't get, what you DO. So I suggest to EDIT your question and add one or two scenarios of what you DO w.r.t. voice recording or replay in generic terms. Then it may become more evident, what you are after. Thanks (What I'd like to understand are the various roles of live spoken, replayed and and recorded voices. If it helps, feel free to add a (manual) sketch how they develop in time. Like a screenplay as graphics.)
    – MS-SPO
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 10:34
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    Can I also ask for some clarity, Dave? I can't think of a solution unless I understand. I get stuck on the "while I am recording" bit. If you'd have said "while I'm listening", I'd completely get it. Why do you want to mute while recording your lines/other lines/stage dirs? In my mind, you've already recorded your lines at this stage, right? You just need to say them if you remember them, or unmute the left if you don't. Why are you re-recording at this stage?
    – n00dles
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 12:37
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    I think we've done this to death, but to try and clarify again - let's forget about the whole acting stuff, that's just to explain why I want to do it. What I want to do is : open two tracks; start recording my voice onto both tracks (as standard); while speaking press a button (or two) that causes the sound to be recorded on only one track; while speaking press a button (or two) that causes my voice to be recorded on only the other track. However it seems that none of the common sound processing programs will do this, so I shall go back to my mechanical switch. Thanks to all for trying.
    – Dave
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 16:24
  • I've edited your question, so it's easier to understand what you want. I also added an answer, because you can do it with some good input routing - there are other ways to do it, too.
    – n00dles
    Commented Dec 29, 2022 at 17:45

2 Answers 2

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You can do it in audacity with one click per track.

Open your stereo file. Right click in the left bar & select Split Stereo Track.

enter image description here

Then you can click one or other Solo button to mute the other track, or Mute button to mute the current one. Or key commands Shift/S or Shift/U.

enter image description here

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  • Or create two (mono) tracks, pan one to the left and the other one to the right. Solo your track, which will mute (all) the other.
    – MS-SPO
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 12:36
  • @MS-SPO That's exactly what he did lol
    – n00dles
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 12:50
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    Thanks for the replies, but this switches tracks while playing. I want to switch tracks while recording
    – Dave
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 13:47
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    Now we've got right down to what's actually required, I think you just don't want to be doing this live. If you're recording a table reading/early rehearsal/blocking etc, then you want everybody to be concentrating on the pacing, not on whether someone's pressing the right button to send this line to that track, that line to the other, stage direction to both. You really should just do this in post. Every time you press the wrong button, you'll have to interrupt the rehearsal to get everybody to go back a bit & start over.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 17:53
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    Sorry, but this has been like pulling teeth, an exercise in mind reading. We only now are told you're doing all the parts. Anyway, just because you think this shouldn't be complicated doesn't mean it isn't. I can't even do this in the full-blown Cubase Pro with only a single input bus. I can flip which track records but not with exclusivity. Audio recorders are just not designed with this kind of task in mind. This is something that would just be done in post.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 11:45
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You can indeed pan on recording or "mute recording on alternate tracks" as you originally put it.

It can be easy, or difficult, depending on the software and your technical knowledge, but logically, what you need is this:

Input(1 Ch) -> [Method of splitting/fading between two channels] -> 
Recording Tracks (2 Ch; where Ch1 -> Out L and Ch2 -> Out R)

Then on playback, you will be able to pan L/R as you desire.

So… basically you need an input panning control. And as this is not often required, you would need software with good routing capabilities.

Audacity
I tried this in Audacity, and as it's just a simple audio recorder/editor, it is very limited in routing capabilities. The real-time effects looked promising - it seems all you need is an effect with a pan control and then record to a stereo track - but not only did the panning not work, but none of the effects worked in real-time anyway.

Cubase
As I'm away atm, I tried it on a Cubase 5 install I have on my old laptop. So anyway, this is how I did it in Cubase 5 using the free ASIO4ALL ASIO driver (it should hopefully transfer to other software):

  • Firstly, I created two mono input buses in Devices -> VST Connections -> Inputs called Mono In and Mono In 2, both using the same input as a source (I used my laptop mic in this example). enter image description here This will create two input channels in the mixer by the same names enter image description here
  • I then created two mono audio tracks. On the first, I set input to Mono In and output to Left - Stereo Out. On the second, I set input to Mono In 2 and output to Right - Stereo Out. So the first track will output it's recorded signal to the left channel and the second to the right. Simples!
    enter image description here enter image description here
  • I then Armed both tracks and recorded. Then, using the mute buttons on the channels Mono In and Mono In 2 on the mixer, I could effectively switch between left and right channels while recording.
    (I also renamed the channels and tracks to make it easier to understand - Mono In => My Lines, Mono In 2 => Other Lines, Audio 01 => Left, Audio 02 => Right) enter image description here

Furthermore, you could probably create a macro or key command that would allow you to make the mute button changes with simple keystrokes.

So there you go, one way of doing it. When exported, this will create a stereo file that you can pan/mute L or R on playback exactly as you wanted. You should be able to transfer this or a similar process to other DAWs with a little bit of knowledge.

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    Wow, N00dles, thank you for putting so much effort into this (at Christmas too!), and also for fixing up my original question - as I am not a sound engineer obviously I was not getting the terminology quite right which was causing confusion. I am still surprised that what seems (to me) such a simple requirement is so complicated to achieve, but obviously it is just something that a "proper" sound engineer would never want/need to do. I will give your CuBase solution a go - hopefully once set up it will be simpler than my home-made 2-p-3-w switch (+ additional gadgetry) :). Happy New Year
    – Dave
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 9:38
  • No problem, Dave! Yeah, ideally, in modern recording, input signals are recorded clean then edited and processed later. Happy new year.
    – n00dles
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 16:36

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