Convert the file in an audio processing app. For goodness sake, AE is not an audio processing tool nor an editing app.
You are absolutely right - AE is an animation tool. So I want to import audio into AE and then set keyframes to match specific points in the audio. It would seem that the simplest way to do that would be to import the audio into AE, adjust the placement of keyframes, and then render the whole thing out.
Is there a better way to do this?
Polyphonic Wav? What exactly do you mean by that. Polyphonic traditionally means two or more voices and comes from the music synthesizer world. If you mean that you made two vocal recordings and put one on the left channel and one on the right then that has no bearing on rendering the audio to a video file. The standard audio format for Video is 48KHZ 16 Bit PCM Uncompressed but AE will handle 24 bit audio just fine. I have a feeling you are not familiar with the waveform options in the latest versions of AE or the procedure for doing RAM previews.
There are two options for waveform display in the Timeline Panel Options Menu. Reveal the waveform (ll - press the l key twice) and try the options The default is Rectified Waveforms. It took me a few tries but I actually prefer Rectified Waveforms for finding audio work in AE. The type of waveform display you choose has no effect on the audio:
You also have options for preview that you can set in the Preview Panel: (Ctrl/Cmnd + 3);
Check this tutorial series out to get started with AE: Basic Workflow
Thank you both for your help. The problem was actually in how I was recording the audio - I had set the gain incorrectly on the channel connected to the mic. Progress!