Audition: Multitrack Editing

Last week, I wrote about recording audio in Adobe Audition – [ click to read ]. This week, I want to cover multitrack editing, in preparation for a mix.

Adobe Audition, like Apple Soundtrack, provides two different ways to edit audio: a multitrack mix and a waveform edit. Multitrack mixes are non-destructive, while waveform edits are destructive. (Destructive means that it makes permanent changes to your audio files.)

Audition is a highly-capable audio editor which has been used in broadcast for years, however, it has some quirks which make it operate differently from Soundtrack Pro.

This article covers audio imported into Audition for editing – or audio that was recorded in Audition. In a separate article, I’ll cover how to send files from Final Cut Pro 7 (or earlier) to Audition for a mix. I’ve also recorded a detailed video tutorial that illustrates Audition’s very powerful audio repair capability, which you can review here.

GETTING STARTED

Open Audition

Select File > New > Multitrack session (or type Command+N)

Unlike Soundtrack Pro, where you simply drop clips into the Timeline for editing, with Audition you need to specify the project properties before you start.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once you set project properties, you can’t change them. If the sample rate of your audio clips doesn’t match the project property settings, your clips will be resampled, which generally reduces audio quality.

In this case, I titled this session “My Multitrack Session.” (You can, of course, title your session any way you like.)

Then, I clicked the Browse button, navigated to my 2nd Drive and created a new folder to serve as the session folder. This is where Audition will store all the elements related to this project. While not required, I STRONGLY recommend you store all media on a separate drive and not in the Home directory of your boot drive.

The project Sample Rate needs to match the sample rate of your clips (see the Sidebar below).

Leave the Bit Depth set to 32 (float). This provides higher quality for mixing, even though you will probably output your finished file at 16-bit depth.

Master refers to how you want to output your file: Mono, Stereo, or 5.1 (Surround). In most cases, today, we will probably use Stereo, which is the default.

Once you have these settings configured, click OK.


SIDEBAR: HOW TO DISCOVER THE AUDIO SAMPLE RATE

QuickTime Player is a fast way to see the sample rate of an audio clip.

Open the audio clip in either QuickTime X or QuickTime 7.

Type Command+I (QT X: Window > Show Movie Inspector -or- QT 7: Window > Get Info)

The floating HUD displays the sample rate of the clip in the Format section of the HUD. In this case, the sample rate is 44,100 Hz.


GETTING ORIENTED

By default, Audition creates a multitrack project containing six tracks.  While there is lots of control over the appearance of your clips and the interface, here’s a fast way to get started.

Go to the Workspace popup menu and select Default. (A workspace is how you organize tabs and panes. There are several variations shipped with Audition and you can easily create your own.) This provides a standard way to work with the application, and it also means that your screens will match mine.  (When editing audio to picture, I change the workspace to Edit Audio to Video.

IMPORTING MEDIA

In this example, we will edit two tracks of audio that were recorded in Soundtrack Pro. (I’ll save working with audio and video files for another article.)

To import a media file (audio or video) do one of the following:
* Select File > Import > File
* Type Command+I
* Right-mouse-click inside the Files pane and select File > Import.

Imported media files are displayed using white text, while session (project) files are displayed in yellow.

NOTE: See the gold border around the Files pane? This indicates which pane is selected; Adobe calls the pane “in focus.” If you ever wonder why something isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do, be sure you have the correct pane selected.

To add an audio file to a track in the Multitrack project, do one of the following:
* Drag and drop it on a track
* Right-mouse-click the clip and choose Insert Into Multitrack > [ Project name ]

Dragging allows you to position the clip anywhere in the Timeline. While mouse-clicking the clip puts it at the position of the playhead (CTI) on whichever track is selected. (You select a track by clicking anywhere inside it. The track will turn a lighter shade of dark gray.)

If you need to sync multiple clips on multiple tracks, right-mouse-clicking is better than dragging, as all clips will align with the Playhead.

EDITING AND TRIMMING

Editing and trimming are very similar to Final Cut Pro or Soundtrack Pro. Trimming tools are located in the Toolbar at the top of the window. We are interested in the first four icons on the left in the screen shot below.

The Move tool (keyboard shortcut: V) allows you to select and move clips.

The Razor Blade tool (keyboard shortcut: R or RR) allows you to slice a single clip, or multiple clips. This works just like the Razor blade tool in Final Cut Pro.

The Slip tool (keyboard shortcut: Y) allows you to slip the contents of a clip, without moving the clip.

The Time Selection tool (keyboard shortcut: T) allows you to select a range on the Timeline that can span from one to many clips. (More on this in a minute.)

To trim the In or Out of a clip, move the mouse to the edge of a clip and watch for the red trim indicator. Drag the selected edge with wild abandon. This is the same as doing a Ripple trim.

To slip the contents of a clip, you need handles on at least one end. If you have edited the entire clip to the Timeline, you won’t be able to slip it. Select the Slip tool (Y), then click and drag anywhere inside the waveform of a clip.

To select a range within a clip, or across multiple clips or multiple tracks, select the Time Selection tool (T). Drag to select a range. Then, do one of the following:

* To delete the range and leave a gap, press the big Delete key
* To delete the range and remove the gap, press Option+Delete
* To delete the range and remove the gap across all tracks, press Shift+Command+Delete

You can also access all these commands from the Edit > Ripple Delete menu or by right-mouse-clicking in the selected region.

To move clips between tracks, drag them. To prevent them from moving from side to side, hold the Shift key down while dragging.

To delete a clip, select the clip and press the Delete key. (This only removes it from the Timeline, it does not remove it from the Files pane, or your hard disk.)

INTERFACE GOODIES

Double-clicking a clip opens it in the waveform editor. Be careful here, because all your changes are permanently recorded in the file.

To move between projects, click the name of the project tab at the top of the Timeline and select the project you want to move to. There’s no limit to the number of projects, or audio files, that you can have open at one time.

To turn snapping on or off, either click the snapping logo (see screen shot above) or select Edit > Snapping and pick the options you want to snap to. (You could also type S)

Audition has a number of neat interface tricks up its sleeve. For instance, the zoom in/out controls are all located on the right side, near the bottom. Click one of these magnifying glass icons and watch what happens. (You can also type or = )

To fit everything in the window, click the fifth icon in from the left or type Command+

Using the Clip menu, or right-mouse-clicking a clip, you can:

* Rename a clip
* Change the color of a clip
* Lock a clip in Time.

This last option is very sweet. Locking a clip allows you to move it up or down tracks, but prevents it from shifting from side to side. This allows you to move a clip without losing sync.  Cool!

Oh! The spacebar starts and stops playback … but you probably figured that out by now.

ADDING FADES

When it comes to adding fades, Audition is far more flexible than either FCP or Soundtrack Pro.

To add a fade, click the small box in the top left (In) or right (Out) corners of a clip and drag sideways.

However the VERY cool part is that when you drag the fade handle up or down, you can change the shape of the fade! This is far more flexible – and easier – than adding fades in FCP or STP. In this screen shot, I’ve add a fade that starts slowly, then speeds up at the end. This is a good way to cover a cough or sharp sound at the beginning of a clip.

MIXING

I’m saving mixing for another article, however, just to cover the basics, you change clip volume by dragging the yellow horizontal line running through the middle of each clip up (to make the clip louder) or down (to make the clip softer).

Remember to be SURE your audio levels never exceed 0 dB!

SAVE YOUR WORK

Unlike Soundtrack Pro, Audition has an autosave built into it. It will save your work every ten minutes, unless you change this time to something different in the Preferences.

However, it is a good policy to never trust autosaves completely. As you are working, save your work by typing Command+S.

WRAP-UP

If you have it installed on your system, and haven’t played with it yet, now is a good time to get acquainted with Audition. This is a very capable audio editing and mixing program. I’ve had fun learning it and I’m looking forward to sharing more of it with you in the future.

 


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24 Responses to Audition: Multitrack Editing

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  1. Philippe Marois says:

    Hello Larry,
    I’ve always been able, when moving clips between track, to lock them in time using the shift key.
    For whatever reason, since today, this doesn’t work anymore?
    Any idea what option I could have unconsciously changed that makes it impossible to lock a clip in time while moving it, using the shift key?

    • Larry says:

      Philippe:

      I’ve never known this trick. However you can lock a track in time by:

      * Right-click the clip and select “Lock in Time.”
      * Select “Lock in Time” from the Clip menu.
      * Create a custom keyboard shortcut to do the same thing.

      Larry

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