Join Jeff Sengstack for an in-depth discussion in this video Using professional production studio mixing techniques, part of Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training.
To wrap up this chapter on building and mixing multi-track files, I want to give you a few tips about how you can create multi-track files and how you can apply edits to them. These are tips that I have been acquiring over the years in my audio editing and also that I got from Barry Schiffman the composer and musician and audio engineer, who put together these tracks that we've been using in our multi-track chapter. Let me get started by just saying that when you work with a vocal inside a multi-track session, you almost always want to add reverb to it. Let me just click edit there. I am sure that we've got Convolution Reverb added to the vocalist track.
And then frequently you want to compress the vocalist, so that you can make the vocalist stand out from the instrumental mix. It's a perception that the vocalist is standing out. You are not necessarily going to blast the volume level higher, but you do want to kind of compress the dynamic range, so that the locals will stand out. Frequently you will want to add a little bit of equalization to an instrument. Sometimes that might be the bass. It can be other ones as well, where you want to just like pump up the bass or with a male vocalist, you want to maybe pump up his bass or the treble a little bit on a female vocalist. But let's just take a look at the bass here.
Typically, you want to add little Parametric EQ and one of the great things about Soundbooth is that it comes with a Bass Booster preset. So, you just apply that, and then you can always adjust the settings inside the Parametric EQ Graph. It's important to center fundamental instruments inside your mix. Fundamental instruments include the bass, and we will talk about that one specifically. We will just scroll down so you can see the panning area. There you go! Here is the pan, left and right. Now we always center the bass in particular because bass -- low-frequencies like that are usually difficult to localize, they just seem to appear from the room rather than come from a particular location.
So, there really is no need for you to pan bass left or right. It's best just to put it dead center. But you also want to typically put fundamental instruments in the middle. I am going to show you this other multi-track session we worked on, when we worked on the percussion. And fundamental instruments might be like the Cowbell, the Cymbal and the Kick. Those are the ones that just stand out, they are really prominent and so you can put them toward the center. So, the Kick drum is dead center, and the Cymbal is a little bit left, and the Cowbell is a little bit right. If you have similar instruments, like in this case the Cabasa, let me scroll down a little bit, and the Shaker you really do want to separate them because they would otherwise sort of step on each other.
So, we panned the Cabasa right 50%, meaning halfway between the center and the right speaker. And then we panned the Shaker left 50%, so it's halfway between the left speaker and the center speaker. One little side note. If you take an instrument, let's say it's in the middle already, and you start panning it left or right, it will become more prominent the farther you pan it. So, just be aware that it will become more prominent and if you don't want it to become more prominent you are going to have to reduce the volume level after you make the pan to make sure you adjusted the mix properly.
At least mixed the way you wanted to mix, after you've moved it over to one side or the other. In your final mix, you might consider using a compressor or Hard Limiter. Let's go a final mix here. This is the stereo mix of this whole session, and I have not applied any compressor to it yet, but here is the compressor sitting here ready to be used. And you might want to compress it and give it that's sort of pop sound where you get that wall of sound where you can expand the audio to the peak levels, reduce the dynamic range and really fill the room with sound, and you typically want to do this with a pop tune if you've got a jazz arrangement, you might want to have a little bit less compression, and if you have got a full symphony orchestra or a choir, you don't want compress them at all because you really want to get that full dynamic range that a symphony orchestra can give you.
But if you are doing a pop tune, you typically do want to compress it or you can use what's called Limiting, the Hard Limiting or normalizing. So, here is the button that allows you to increase the loudness one step at a time, or you can go up to Processes and click on Hard Limit. Finally, when you have created a studio session, and you typically don't have your studio instrumentalist or musicians fadeout. You just typically haven't dropped off, and then later you apply a fadeout. So, here is how this one sounds. (Music playing.) So, it has stopped playing basically, rather than try to fadeout.
It's hard to fadeout at the end like that. So, you just play full volume to the end then let the engineer do the fadeout for this. Let me just show you how that works. I am going to trim this in a bit to cut out those couple out those couple of instruments that just sort of trip off at the end. Now we are going to cut it really hard at the end now. (Music playing.) Like that. Now, we are going to fade it down and a typical fadeout for a pop tune like this where there is not a logical end to it, is usually 10 to 15 seconds.
It's really your call. It's one of those things that there are no hard and fast rules about it, but we are going to do like a 10 second fadeout. So, you will look at the time for the whole piece. It is 03:30:50. So, I am going to drop it back about 10 seconds. So, I am going to move the current time indicator to about there. So, that's actually 11 seconds or so. That just gives me a little marker for info, that I am going to take the fadeout, and I am going to drag it over, but I want to use a logarithmic fadeout. So, I will drag it over. In a logarithmic fadeout, I can raise this a bit, climb it up a bit, and you see how the fadeout drops sort of slowly and then drops off quickly.
So, it's sort of in case your listener the sense that okay, we are going to start fading in, and then we are going to done. Sort of like that. (Music playing.) You can do that kind of logarithmic fadeout or you can do an arithmetic one by dragging it down, but that to me is kind of abrupt. So, I will just give you a quick shot of the one. (Music playing.) But again, it's your call, logarithmic, arithmetic or just linear, whichever one you want, but usually a 10 to 15 second fadeout is normal for a mix where the instrumentalist or the vocalist don't just stop.
So, those are my tips for multi-track editing.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
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.