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Adjusting volume


Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training

with Jeff Sengstack

Video: Adjusting volume

Controlling volume levels is a huge part of audio editing. Typically, you fade up as you start a piece and then fade out at the end. Sometimes audio levels inside your clips are too loud or too soft and you need to adjust them. So, I am going to show you all those techniques in this video. We will start out with fading up and fading out. Here is a little clip of some rain. I will just go back to the Home, at the very beginning here, press Home and press Play. (Rain) As you can see, it starts instantly. We probably should have it fade up at the start. And we will go to the end here, and it just stops. (Rain) Much nicer to have it fade up and fade out.
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  1. 4m 51s
    1. Welcome
      1m 13s
    2. What is Soundbooth CS5?
      2m 30s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 8s
  2. 18m 4s
    1. Taking a look at basic sound waves
      3m 53s
    2. Taking a look at complex sound waves
      6m 43s
    3. Understanding digital audio concepts
      7m 28s
  3. 14m 45s
    1. Understanding the workflow
      5m 35s
    2. Touring the workspace
      3m 44s
    3. Customizing the workspace
      5m 26s
  4. 13m 11s
    1. Opening and importing files
      3m 59s
    2. Setting up recording hardware
      2m 35s
    3. Recording vocals and instruments
      6m 37s
  5. 1h 3m
    1. Playing and monitoring audio
      5m 10s
    2. Viewing audio waveforms and spectral displays
      6m 24s
    3. Selecting audio
      9m 14s
    4. Trimming and deleting audio
      3m 59s
    5. Copying, cutting, and pasting audio and inserting silence
      7m 55s
    6. Adjusting volume
      11m 21s
    7. Using specialized volume techniques
      6m 54s
    8. Creating and using loops
      4m 42s
    9. Stretching time and shifting pitch
      5m 14s
    10. Working with video files
      2m 22s
  6. 26m 50s
    1. Identifying noises: Hums, hisses, clicks, and pops
      5m 45s
    2. Removing background noise: Audio tape hiss
      7m 55s
    3. Removing vinyl record clicks and pops
      3m 57s
    4. Removing individual sounds
      9m 13s
  7. 13m 27s
    1. Previewing Soundbooth effects
      5m 32s
    2. Applying and adjusting standard effects
      4m 58s
    3. Applying and customizing advanced effects
      2m 57s
  8. 48m 25s
    1. Applying reverb and echo: Analog Delay and Convolution Reverb
      8m 46s
    2. Using delay-based effects: Chorus/Flanger and Phaser
      6m 8s
    3. Understanding sound-level effects: Compressor and Dynamics
      7m 0s
    4. Applying equalization effects: Graphic and Parametric
      11m 14s
    5. Exploring other special effects: Distortion and Vocal Enhancer
      7m 58s
    6. Setting the all-in-one effect: Mastering
      7m 19s
  9. 46m 42s
    1. Understanding multitrack concepts
      1m 16s
    2. Building a multitrack file
      7m 5s
    3. Adjusting track and clip volume and panning
      8m 54s
    4. Adding effects to individual tracks
      7m 38s
    5. Using Soundbooth sound effects in your multitrack file
      6m 38s
    6. Using three multitrack editing techniques: Duplicating, splitting, and cross-fading
      6m 15s
    7. Working with video in multitrack
      2m 49s
    8. Using professional production studio mixing techniques
      6m 7s
  10. 17m 13s
    1. Understanding how scores work
      3m 30s
    2. Previewing, downloading, and inserting scores into multitrack files
      4m 45s
    3. Adjusting score duration, intensity and parts
      8m 58s
  11. 10m 42s
    1. Dynamically linking to Premiere Pro and After Effects projects
      4m 31s
    2. Turning spoken dialogue into searchable metadata
      6m 11s
  12. 21m 42s
    1. Saving snapshots
      6m 23s
    2. Saving entire files or selected ranges
      11m 59s
    3. Saving and mixing down multitrack files
      3m 20s
  13. 10s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training
4h 59m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Setting up recording hardware
  • Recording vocals and instruments
  • Viewing audio waveforms and spectral frequency displays
  • Copying, cutting and pasting audio
  • Stretching time and shifting pitch
  • Looping tracks
  • Identifying and removing noise
  • Enhancing audio with Soundbooth effects
  • Mixing audio in multitrack mode
  • Customizing prebuilt scores
  • Working with Soundbooth files in Premiere Pro projects
Audio + Music Video
Jeff Sengstack

Adjusting volume

Controlling volume levels is a huge part of audio editing. Typically, you fade up as you start a piece and then fade out at the end. Sometimes audio levels inside your clips are too loud or too soft and you need to adjust them. So, I am going to show you all those techniques in this video. We will start out with fading up and fading out. Here is a little clip of some rain. I will just go back to the Home, at the very beginning here, press Home and press Play. (Rain) As you can see, it starts instantly. We probably should have it fade up at the start. And we will go to the end here, and it just stops. (Rain) Much nicer to have it fade up and fade out.

Well, I will show you the easy way to fade it up and fade it out. Little buttons down here. This is the Fade In key and the Fade Out key. I click Fade In, and unfortunately, it fades in the entire piece. Now, why did it do that? It does that because it looks for the position of the Current Time Indicator and fades from the beginning to the position of the Current Time Indicator. So let's undo that by going Edit > Undo Fade In, and now we will position the Current Time Indicator to the place where you want the fade to finish. Typically, you want it to fade in maybe for about a second or so. So, let's scroll it along here.

It's about a second down here, a little bit more than a second. Now I click Fade In, and boom. It fades in to that Fade In point. Now, if I click Fade Out, it's going to go from here, all the way over to there. So, let's go to the end, press the End key, and take it back about a second. So, we are at 1:21. We will go to about 1:20 something. That's about a second. Now when I click the Fade Out key, bam, it fades out right there, to the little Fade Out point, where you have the Current Time Indicator. Now we go back to the beginning. I will press Home, press Play. (Rain) It's a much more gradual, comfortable start to something.

We will go to the end here. (Rain) Those are the standard ways to create Fade In and Fade Out. They are called linear Fade In and Fade Out. Lots of time linear is not very realistic, so you can do other kinds, and I will show you that in a second. Another way to do Fade In and Fade Out is to do it manually. Let me undo these things by going Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z. We just undid the Fade In and Fade Out. You can do Command+Z on a Mac to undo the same thing. We'll do a manual version if I drag the Fade In button up here in the upper left hand corner and just drag it to wherever I want it to fade into.

That's making a linear Fade In. See how it's changing things as I fade it in? But if I take the little icon and drag it up or down, it creates a logarithmic or an arithmetic fade. If I drag it up like that, that's logarithmic. It fades in sort of slowly and then quickly at some point. It goes in kind of slow for a while and then it fades in. So, let's try that and see how that's different. (Rain) Slowly, and then - it gets up to full volume kind of quickly right there toward the end. If I do it arithmetically, it's going to be more abrupt, kind of quiet, and then comes up more (Rain) suddenly, like that way.

But you can just change that kind of a fade by dragging this guy up or down. It's a really cool feature that lot of people don't know is tucked away inside this icon. The same thing applies to the Fade Out. Drag it in, up or down. I kind of like the logarithmic approach for it. It has sort of a slow fade, then drops off. Go to the end here. (Rain) Because it kind of sets you up that it's about to fade out, then you are prepared for it to fade out. That's kind of a standard way to do a Fade Out. Let's move on to a different way to do it. Let's raise or lower the volume of a clip on a selection.

I'm going to go to the constitution here. Here, I had a little extra hard sound, when I said that one word when I did this narration. You can see that it's a little bit louder than the rest of the piece. Now I really don't want it to stand out too much. I will just Play it. (Male Speaker: - defense, promote the general welfare) So I kind of said 'promote' kind of loud. So, if I select that using the Time Selection tool and drag across there to select it, I can make that selection quieter using this control at the top, the Decibel Level Control here, where I can either type in a reduced Decibel Level, by typing in something like -2 or -3 decibels, something like that, or I can hover my cursor over it and see that it has that little double arrow on a finger pointing left and right? When you see that over any number, that means you can click on it and drag left or right to change the value.

So, I will drag it down about 2, and if you look really carefully - it's not easy to see, but inside the waveform, there is sort of lighter green color as it gets smaller. I will try to make it more obvious down there. It shows you what level it will go to as you decrease it. Well, I want it to go down to right about there, so it could be equal to everybody else. Let go and notice that now it's pretty much equal to these guys to the right. Maybe it's too quiet, but at least you can see that it's different. (Male Speaker: - promote the general welfare -) It doesn't stand out quite so much as before. I am going to undo that because I want to show you one other technique.

I want to show you what are called keyframes. If you have worked with keyframes in a video application program like Premiere Pro, then this is old hat, but you can do what's called automating the volume change. Every clip has this little audio, Decibel Level rubber band, as they call it, running through every single clip, this little blue line. If you click on it, you are going to make a keyframe, by just clicking on it gets this little diamond keyframe. And that says from this point to the next keyframe, it will change to whatever the new value for the next keyframe is. So, the next keyframe will be here and I will drag it down. You can see that it's changing the Decibel Level -2.3.

Click on other one, over here, and click the next one. That will be constant there from that point to that point. Then click another one to drag it back up to basically 0, or close to 0, and now I have created a little decrease in volume there, just automated it in that little spot. Now I will Play that. (Male Speaker: - for the common defense, promote the general welfare -) So I tried to drop the Decibel Level so it would be equal to everybody else. So, right here, the Decibel Level is that peak. It is about -10.7 if you look at the top here: -9, -10.

If I go to the new peak over here, also about 9.6 there. So, I have made it basically equal in terms of one peak to the next by using keyframes. Keyframes are available on every clip, stereo, mono, 5.1. All the channels will have that, the little rubber bands in them, which allows you to make keyframes. If you will right-click on a keyframe, there is a thing called Hold versus Linear. Clicking a Hold will then hold the keyframe from that point until the next keyframe, and then it abruptly changes to whatever the next keyframe is. So, it's best to have it be Linear, so that it makes a linear, gradual change from one to the next, so it's not too abrupt.

But sometimes a Hold, which allows for an abrupt change, is a good thing. Let me show you some other effect that I want to explain when you put two clips together. I am going to open up this declaration-2 clip, and you can sort of see the volume level there. Look at the declaration-3 and you can see that it's lower. I want to put the two together. So, I am going to select this guy. I have explained how to copy and paste in a different movie, but we will do that again here. I am going to select that and I'm going to go to Edit > Copy. I am going to go back to that declaration-2. I am going to see where I should place this. It should go right there.

So, I am going to cover this up with the clip that I just copied. I am taking 3 and putting it in 2. Go Edit > Paste. So, now I have taken two clips and put them together. Let me press the Backslash key so you can see the whole thing. You will notice that the one that I added is a lower volume than this one. (Male Speaker: the causes which impel them to the separa-) Gets up -6 or so. (Male Speaker: -pel them. Are the causes which impel them.) Here, it's about - somewhere around -6 to -8, and over here, let's see what the volume level is. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be) -12, so it's much quieter.

So, I need to really raise the volume of this whole clip. So, I am going to select the whole thing and raise it to try to make the peaks more or less match. And see the peaks grow there? I want the peaks to more or less match the one to the left of it, the one I am connecting it to, so that these two clips line up and have relatively equal volume levels. So now, when I play it, it doesn't sound like I recorded it differently, they are basically the same volume. I've matched the volume. There is an automated way to match volumes and I explain that in a different movie. Let me show you something that happens when you raise the volume too much.

That's always a potential problem. You don't want to go past the 0 point, as it's called, right up here. If you go above what's called 0 dBFS, Decibels Below Full Scale, if you push it to 0, you are going to get what's called clipping. Clipping is a physical thing. It makes your audio sound distorted, but if you look at the audio, you can see that the peaks and the valleys have been cut off. They have been clipped away. That's why the sound is distorted. So, I am going to raise the volume of this particular bit of music. You have heard it a couple of times before, if you have been watching the various movies. It sounds like this.

(Music playing.) With the keyboard and bass. I am going to raise it so that it goes beyond 0. It will be clipped. You can tell something's clipped by all these little flat lines right at the top. If it's flat slightly below, then you are okay, but if it's flat at the top, it will sound horrible. And I will just play a little brief moment here. (Music playing.) It has that sort of fuzzy distorted sound. That's because, literally, the waveforms have been cut off. Let me show you how that looks. I have to zoom in here really tight. I will keep on going till we get a waveform.

If you look at the waveforms, as you get close, you will see that they are flat. That's because they are not allowed to go to their full dynamic range. That would be up here some place. They have been cut off in the valleys, where it's releasing your eardrum, or its low pressure has been cut off as well, so you don't get the full dynamic range. It has literally been clipped off and that's why you get that horrible distortion. (Music playing.) So unless you love distortion, you don't want to raise your audio levels above the 0 Decibel Above Full Scale. So, you want to drop it to Below Full Scale. I will return that to its original condition.

Finally, you might want to be able to control the audio level for only one channel. Let me show you this. Here is something I created on purpose to create a low volume for one channel, and a high volume for another. (Music playing.) Well, Soundbooth doesn't let you control audio and stereo or 5.1 sound by channel. You have to control the volume for the whole thing. If I change this, you will see that it affects both channels at once. If you want to do it individually, you need to create a Multitrack session from the stereo clip.

You can't make a Multitrack session from a 5.1. So, you can convert this to a Multitrack session. I have not discussed Multitrack in any tutorials up to this point. I will do an entire chapter on Multitrack sessions later, but let me just give you a sense of how you can do that, so you can see how you can take a clip where one channel is obviously too loud or too soft and you want to adjust that. You just select that particular file and go to File > New > Multitrack from Channels, and that will take your stereo channels and put them in two separate tracks in a Multitrack file.

So, now we have got the keyboards and strings right and left. Remember, left is always on top, right is in the bottom. This volume level itself now is controllable individually as well as this one. So this guy on the bottom, I think, is too soft and the guy on the top is too loud, so I can take that volume level down here, let's say. Let's see if that balances out a little bit. (Music playing.) I'm going to kick the keyboard up a little bit, so it will raise that volume level a little bit. Now let's see what we got. (Music playing.) But you get the idea that if you do need to work only on an individual channel or adjust a channel or two channels separately, you need to create a Multitrack file from that stereo signal.

So, that's how you adjust volume levels across clips or on separate channels for stereo clips or within a clip.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: After making a recording using Soundbooth CS5, I’ve discovered the stereo channels are reversed- left is right and right is left. I can’t seem to figure out how to swap them in Soundbooth. How can I adjust channels?
Also, is there a more advanced audio software that might be better for working with recorded audio than Soundbooth CS5?
A: To swap channels in Soundbooth, right-click on the file in the
Files panel, choose Insert Channels Into New Multitrack File. That will
create a multitrack sessions with the two channels on separate mono
tracks. Pan them left and right to create the swapped channels and then
choose Export > Multitrack Mixdown.

A more advanced audio recording, editing and mixing product is Adobe
Audition. The current version 3 is for Windows only. Check out the Audition 3 Essential Training in the Online Training Library.
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