Saturday, December 28, 2019

How to use Strip Silence (a guide for dummies)

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to talk about editing (click here for a dedicated article), and about how far technology has arrived, with the automatic identification and cut of silence parts.

Editing, especially if we're talking about a complex multi track (or even multi-song) project can be frustrating: it takes surgical precision, zen patience and countless hours if we want really to align the transients and insert silence in the right spot in our tracks, but today technology can give us a hand, by identifying a defined threshold and simply cutting automatically the track where it's supposed to, saving us literally hours.

Inserting silence in a track can be fundamental for our project, because it eliminates completely the ground noise (espacially in live projects or songs in which all instruments are playing together and the microphones inevitably pick up some sound, called "bleed", coming from the other instruments).

The Strip Silence feature is present in all the major DAWs: we're describing today the Studio One method, but it can be found easily also in the other workstations, and it works in the same way.
In Studio One you just need to click on the Strip silence icon located in the top area of the interface, and a menu will pop up: we can choose between some presets in the menu called "material", which are made to cut away just the ground noise, or to insert silence more and more aggressively, then we can decide the threshold below which to trigger the cut and the attack and release (that in this case are called "pre roll" and "post roll", which will create also a fade in and out curve to not make the cut too violent.

Basically the Strip Silence function as you might have guessed works as a Gate (click here for a dedicated article), that instead of lowering the volume under a certain threshold to zero, creates a cut in the track, which has a dual function: to free up headroom to the maximum and to prepare the track for some timing adjustment, saving us time when editing.

All it takes is just the initial settings: if we're working on a vocal track for example, we need to fiddle until we nail the right setting that doesn't cut where we don't want and doesn't stop the track too early or too late, once we have found the perfect setting we can apply it to the whole track (by selecting the track/s we need to process and pressing "apply") and from there do the needed manual adjustments.

Sometimes even if we have a very low noise floor, if we don't eliminate it completely and if it's present on several tracks, it will add up and in the final song and we can end up having a considerable amount of background noise, that will even increase with bus compression and mastering, so it's better to enter these stages with as little ground noise as possible, and for this task, the strip silence function is our best tool.

I hope this was helpful!

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