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In Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training, author Jeff Sengstack demonstrates how to record, edit, optimize, and enhance audio using the professional tools in Adobe Soundbooth CS5. This course covers basic audio edits, such as trimming, fading, and panning clips, removing unwanted noise, enhancing audio with special effects, and creating stereo blends from multiple tracks. An overview of recording hardware and a detailed explanation of core audio concepts are included as well. Exercise files accompany the course.
The primary reasons you mix clips in a multitrack file is to pan parts left or right to create a stereo feel, and to reproduce what it would be like to listen to a group live in concert. Also, you want to control each clip's volume level to create an effective blend, and we're going to do that with these five percussion tracks here. Let me tell you kind of where we are right now. I've taken the session that I created in the previous movie, building a multitrack file, and brought it into this particular video. What I did was a saved it as an ASND file, which stands for Adobe Soundbooth Document.
I"ll talk about saving and mixing down files in other tutorials, but I did want to just let you know that that's what we did here. We named it multitrack-example-building, if you're going to load this up as you follow along. And another little anomaly I want to tell you about, when you build a multitrack file, you're actually taking the audio files, in this case cabasa, cowbell et cetera, putting them in a new file. As you add a track or add a clip to a multitrack file, you are expanding the size of the file. Some programs use what are called Reference Based Editing, where they just have little markers that indicate which things you are including in your ultimate mix down, and here you are actually including the entire file inside there.
These files can get fairly large as you build multitrack sessions. What this also means is that the original cabasa has not been touched. It's not been edited, despite the fact that I trimmed this one in the multitrack session. Now, here is the cabasa file inside the multitrack session. If I go to the beginning of it and expand the view a little bit, we are going to see that it's basically trimmed right to the start of the sound there. But if I go to this cabasa file, the original one, you'll see that there's plenty of space at the beginning. I can zoom in a little bit on that. You'll notice there's plenty of space. It has not been trimmed.
That's the original untouched file. And in fact, I can take these five percussion files, select all five of them, and press Delete, and we still have our multitrack session. We still have those five files, and it still plays just fine. (Percussion playing.) So, these files are all now stored inside this multitrack file. Lots of times when they talked about multitracks, inside audio editing software, they talk about sessions, but in fact, inside Soundbooth, you are creating a file with all of these original files, tucked inside there. When I do edits to these things they will not affect the actual original file.
They are untouched, which is a good thing. You don't want to change the originals, so that's the plus to creating this fairly large ASND file, which some people might find maybe a little unwieldy, but it's a good thing where we're working here. Let me talk about what I really want to focus on this particular tutorial, which is panning and volume levels. Let's just listen to these five tracks together. (Percussion playing.) If you look at the top, you'll see that the stereo signal is equal left and right. That's because these guys are all centered. (Percussion playing.) and you are also going to think, 'Hm! That cowbell might be a little loud.' This is a cowbell.
I'll solo the cowbell. You can press the S to solo a track. I'll try that. (Cowbell playing.) You can hear that thing. You know what a cowbell sounds like now. Here is the cabasa. (Cabasa playing.) So, with percussion like this, I want to make a little mix down on this percussion, so we can use a mix down later to avoid having something up to about 14 tracks when we do our final mix. So, I am going to create a little mix down of these guys, where we have some of them panned left, some panned right. We can adjust the volume on it, and then, we'll save these files as a WAV file that we can incorporate into another multitrack file later.
So, let's take a look at how we are want to mix these. Usually, when you have got instruments that are similar, like the cabasa and the shaker - I'll show you how the shaker sounds. (Shaker playing.) Usually when you have instruments that are similar, you want to separate them. You want to have a more distinct sound. So, I want to pan these guys a little bit left and right. So, I needed to expand the view. You notice how I can expand the view, here at this little - I put the cursor between tracks. It allows me to expand the view. If it's narrow, you don't necessarily see that there's a panning tool available. All you see is a volume level track line. But if I expand it down, you can see that the tracks have this Panning tool available, letting us pan left and right.
So, when you are trying to separate instruments, you usually want to separate them about 50%. If I go to -50, that means I am panning this guy left about 50% across the stage. If you have a stereo set up in front of you, the left channel far to the left, right channel far to the right. 50% places this thing, halfway between the center and the left speaker. And if I want to take the cabasa and want to pan that one to the right, I am going to pan that right 50%. If you have a stereo signal like a keyboard, which has a right and a left channel on it, and you are trying to fill the room with sound, typically you pan them hard left and hard right, meaning 100% left and 100% right.
But here when you've have got instruments, it's probably a pretty good idea just to pan like halfway. That way they are spread out a bit. And now, you are going to notice that the stereo signal on the top here is not exactly equal. (Percussion playing.) A little bit off, just a little off as you watched that. Watch that again. (Percussion playing.) You can see it kind of deviating, because we did spread things out a bit. Now, the cowbell is just distinct as heck. You can hear that thing above everything else. (Percussion playing.) So, I want to take the volume level in the cowbell track down a bit.
So, here's the volume level for an entire track. I can just lower that a little bit, try that again. (Percussion playing.) Okay, but rather than experiment, stopping and starting, I am just going to let it run and adjust this on the fly. (Percussion playing.) That sounds a little better. Listen to the kick here. The kick is such a distinctive instrument. It's best to just leave it in the center. (Percussion playing.) Kind of loud. There we go. (Percussion playing.) The cymbal is a such a treble-y instrument, kind of a high frequency range.
It sort of stands out too. I want to slide that one a little bit to the left, maybe 20%, 25%. And I want the cowbell to be a little bit offset and not too much, just a little bit to the right. It's good to have distinctive instruments in the center. We'll just slide it off a little bit to the right, to kind of spread these guys out a little bit. There we go, I spread them out a little bit. (Percussion playing.) And now, watch the stereo signal. You see that it's deviating a lot now, as we have changed the panning on these instruments. (Percussion playing.) Okay.
I think we are kind of getting a decent percussive mix here. The one other little thing I want to tell you about is what's called Automation. Automation, where you can have volume levels change over time. Now for this particular piece, we really don't need to adjust the percussion levels individually over time. We can have them run continuously across the entire piece, without changing them. But I do want to show you how to adjust the volume levels on a particular clip and automate that over time. I am going to spread these guys out a little bit more and get a better look. Here is the stereo signal, in this case.
(Percussion playing.) Now, they will be panned. You can see that they are a little bit more emphasis on the right channel, the bottom channel. (Percussion playing.) Now, I want to adjust the volume level on this particular clip. I used the volume level rubber band, this little blue line that runs through the entire clip. You can adjust volume over time, using keyframes. Notice that as I hover my cursor over there, a little plus sign appears with an arrow above it. This is a context-sensitive cursor. It changes depending on where you put it. If I put it down here, I can trim it like that, for example. I'll undo that. Up here it changes to allow me to move the current time indicator, and here it let's me change this rubber band.
So, if I click here, that adds a keyframe, the little diamond shaped thing. If I want to lower the volume, I can click again and drag it down, and you can see how many decibels I am changing it. Let me just see how that works. I am going to solo this track, and you'll hear that working. (Cabasa playing.) And if you are thinking if you want to adjust how fast it decreases in volume or increases in volume, you can change the location of the keyframes simply by clicking on it and dragging it over.
So, now we are going to have a fast decrease in volume. (Cabasa playing.) If you think it's not fading enough, you can just click on it again, and drag it down further. That will be a dramatic fade. It'll be fading a lot. (Cabasa playing.) Wehn you want to bring it back up again, just click again, set a new keyframe, and then click after that to set the increase. If we want to increase it a lot, let's go right there. (Cabasa playing.) You can increase the volume above the set level volume for that particular clip, all the way up to 6dB above whatever the original volume level was. And if you increase the overall volume for the clip, that will raise this accordingly as well.
So, you can use keyframes on this rubber band to adjust volume levels, using what's called Automation. You are automating the volume change over time. So, that's the basic process of how you can control panning for clips, and then adjust volume levels inside a multitrack file.
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