Sunday, July 1, 2012

HOW TO DO AUDIO EDITING (a guide for dummies) PART 1/2

Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're going to talk about audio editing!
Audio Editing is the single most important and time-consuming task to accomplish before starting mixing, in the Project Preparation Phase, and it consists in the correction of all the little mistakes that needs to be fixed on the audio tracks, in order to sound properly and not to draw attention.

Let's start by saying that not every small error needs to be fixed: sometimes some slight acceleration or deceleration made by the drummer may improve the groove, sometimes producers even speed up the metronome of a couple bpm on purpose on choruses, in order to make them even more energetic, on a subliminal level.
Also the interpretation nuances of Vocals or guitar solos should be left alone, what really needs to be edited are the macroscopic errors done especially on the rhythmic side, manily by Drums, but also by Bass, rhythm Guitars or some attacks of Vocals and the other audio recorded instruments.

Today there are different solutions in order to help us on our editing tasks, especially for drums, Pro Tools has a feature called "Elastic Audio" that helps editing by marking the audio peaks and quantizing or moving them automatically, also there are other plugins called Beat Detection Tools, which are capable of finding the bpm and help you modifying the track, but we will today focus on the "Slip Editing" which consists into slicing and dicing the audio tracks and moving them, and is the only Free option among these.

Click here for an article about the AUDIO BEND tool of Prestonus Studio One!

- Techniques:  Slip Editing consists into cutting the tracks at the "Zero Point", which is the last silence (0db) part of an audio track right before the start of a sound, and moving the part forward or backward of a few milliseconds, in order to set it on perfect time. To do this many DAWs offers the "Snap to Grid" option, which helps us finding the right place, where the bar starts, if we set the right metronome and quantization for our project: this is very important, since many details of our mix are driven by metronome and quantization, for example the Delay Repetitions, so set this carefully. The metronome and the quantization of our project are MIDI driven, so the "Snap to Grid" option will snap the audio parts on the MIDI grid, which can be divided in 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and so on, in order to be more precise for the positioning. 

Click here for an article about the Marquee tool / Smart tool for a faster way to edit!

When editing, thus applying a change in the continuity of an audio track, there is the problem of how to fill the gaps at the beginning or the end of the track that we have moved: usually if our track slips below another track that starts at the right time there is no problem, since the new sound will take the place of the old one at the right moment, but if we create a gap of silence, this is going to be noticed, so we will need to solve this problem with Time Stretching:

Time Stretching tools (like the Cubase bundled "Audio Warp") are plugins that helps us in widening or shortening the lenght of a sound while mantaining the pitch unaltered; his can be a solution for filling the small silence parts that are generated when cutting an audio part.
Another tool we have in order to "blend in" two parts that were originally distant, in order to make them less feel like one is replacing another, is Cross Fading: this technique consists into creating a quick fade out on the first track and a fade in on the new one, in order to give the impression that there's perfect continuity between the two sounds.
Luckily all the new DAWs and Audio editing Softwares features a Fade In - Fade Out tools.


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