Join Scott Bourne for an in-depth discussion in this video Tracking levels, part of Podcasting with GarageBand 3.
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- [Instructor] In this movie, I'm going to talk about setting your levels. Any kind of audio production, whether it's a podcast or a full-blown musical record requires good levels if you're going to get a good result. So, why don't we open up the tracks project that we've already worked with in Chapter 3 of the exercise files? If you don't have the exercise files, any audio will do. I'm going to go up and solo the Male Voice track so that the only track in play right now is that Male Voice track and you can see my voice as I talk in this levels meter, don't let that distract you, that's only because of the way we make these movies for Lynda.com.
Right now, I'm going to start playing this back and I want you to watch those two green bars. You're listening to the smooth sounds of podcasting with GarageBand 3 Lynda.com training. I'm your smooth host, Scott Bourne, thanks for. Now, you'll notice that has the green bars move to the right, if they clip, these little red dots light up. Those red dots are an indicator that you might be too close to the mic or that you might have your levels set too high.
If you just touch 'em for a second, it's not a big deal but if you're constantly riding up on the right side of the levels meters when you talk, then you probably need to adjust your gain down and the way you do that is with this slider. Pushing it to the left will turn down the gain. Pushing it to the right will turn up the gain. You can only go so far in either direction and I want to caution you about trying to go too far in either direction. This is meant only as a slight correction. This particular slider shouldn't be used unless you absolutely need it.
You can control levels, sometimes, by simply positioning your mouth closer to or further away from the microphone or if you're using an outboard mixer, you can control the level of sound that comes into GarageBand through the mixer. Now, there's another level that you need to understand that's very important and that's the master level of the project. I'm going to unsolo this track and I'm going to hit the Z key to go back to the very beginning and now, I'm going to hit the play button. You're listening to the smooth sounds of podcasting with GarageBand 3 Lynda.com training.
I'm your smooth host, Scott Bourne, thanks for joining me. Notice down here on the right that those meters are moving in response to both tracks, that is your master track output level. I'm going to stop GarageBand and once again, this master volume slider works the same way as it does on the individual tracks. You can move it to the left to reduce gain, to the right to increase gain. Now, keep in mind, this slider affects the entire project whereas the slider up here on the Male Voice track we were working with only affects that particular track.
I think you can see the value of this if you want one track to be slightly louder than another, you can address that in the individual tracks volume control. However, if you want the entire project to be softer or lighter, you want to move down here to this section where you control the master volume. Never let this get too far to the right. In the event that you do, you will get what we call clipping. Your audio will be distorted and the result is that people will tune out of your podcast as fast as they can bail out of paying their taxes.
So, try to stay away from too much audio and likewise, too little audio. If you find yourself in a position where you just don't have enough audio, particularly from a microphone track, it might be that you don't have the right kind of microphone to work with GarageBand. Many people try to connect the microphone that requires what we call a pre-amplifier directly to their Macintosh to use in GarageBand and the resulting signal's simply not strong enough to make a good recording. So, you may need to invest in a pre-amplifier.
This can cost as little as $40 or $50 at a guitar center or other type of music store and you can get very expensive ones if you want to get very serious about your podcasting but if you're having trouble getting a mic level, my advice is to look into whether or not you need a pre-amp for your mic. What you don't want to do is try to use the wrong mic and then push the level so far to the right that you're compensating for a poor signal. That ends up making a dirty recording because we pick up all the ambient noises associated with the vocals and that generally doesn't work.
So, try to make sure you have the right microphone and we're going to cover microphones a little bit later in another section of this tutorial. So, that's it for controlling levels at their base. Later on, I'll go into how you can control levels throughout the entire track and make particular portions of a track louder or softer and I'll also show you how you can fade a track.