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#9: Multitrack Mixing

By | January 16, 2007

Multitrack MixingIn this episode, I wanna deal with a couple of things. I’m gonna have to take this kinda slow so that those of you that are new to audio production are gonna be able to follow along. One thing that’s real important is that you follow along with the images on the site. There’s a lot of things I need to show you and just talking about them isn’t gonna work, if you’re not already familiar with Audition. I don’t wanna do a screencast though to keep my bandwidth down, maybe we’ll include something like that in the future.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. Remember that there are lots of different options for your podcast. So this first one is gonna be just a simple voice track with music at the beginning and the end. That music’s gonna fade out when the voice starts, then near the end it’ll fade back in.

Save your voice file as a WAV file. That ways it’s not compressed. You also wanna make sure that you recorded at 44.100kHz, 16-bit. I usually record the voice track as mono since there’s pretty much no reason to record it as a stereo signal.

Now comes the music part. You decide what music you’ll use. I mentioned briefly before, you can try to get away with playing music that you like or you can purchase royalty free buyout music. It’s totally dependant on your taste and what your podcast is about. The music can be a file that’s already on your hard drive, or you can get the audio from a music CD, Audition can rip the file or import one. If you get the file off a CD and you’re gonna use the same music for all your podcasts, rip the song to your hard drive and just keep re-using it from there cause it’ll load a lot quicker that way.

Whatever way you get the audio, open up the music file and now you should have two files open. Your voice file, and the music file. I like to work with the Organizer window since I usually have a lot of files open at one time. If you don’t see the Organizer window, click Window and then click Organizer up at the top. That’ll show you all the files currently open.

Right-click on your voice track, inside the Organizer. Then click ‘Insert into Multitrack’. It looks like nothing happens, but your file got inserted into a multitrack session. Do the same thing for your music file. Right-click it, then click ‘Insert into Multitrack’.

Getting ready

Right above your waveform, you should have a tab that says ‘Multitrack View’. Click on that tab.


You’ll see your voice file and your music file, on two separate tracks.

Two tracks

What we’re gonna do next, and the way we do it depends on which pointer tool you have selected. On the toolbar, look for these buttons.


The one on the left is the Hybrid Tool. I personally like it because it lets you do more. The catch is though that it doesn’t behave like a standard move-type tool. If you want to move a waveform with the Hybrid Tool, you have to right-click and hold the button down, then move your waveform. If you don’t like that, you can use the Move tool and click-n-drag the regular left mouse button.

Move the voice track

Either way, you want to move your voice track to the right a bit. Think about how much music you want to play at the beginning, and move the voice file that much. For example, if you want 5 seconds of music and then your voice starts, move the voice file 5 seconds to the right. If you can’t tell how far you’re moving it, look at the bottom of the window, there’s a timeline.


You’ll probably also want to make sure that you Display Time Format is set to decimal. Right click the time at the bottom and click Display Time Format, then set it to decimal.

If you play your file right now, you’ll hear music, then five seconds later your voice will start. There’s gonna be one problem though. The music will be very loud compared to the voice. Here’s where the engineering comes in.

Select the music file, then you’ll see a green line across the top of the file. That’s the volume level. If you click on that line, you’ll set a point where the volume can be adjusted. For example, click on the line just below where your voice audio starts. That’ll put a handle there just like in the graphic that you see here.


Now drag that handle down towards the bottom, and you’ll have to experiment with what levels work for your voice and music. Generally, once you start talking, you want the music audible, but not loud, you want it kinda in the background.


This’ll make a diagonal line from the beginning of the file, to this point. Now you click on another point right next to it, to the left, and drag that back up to the top. What you get now is music that plays at normal volume, then right before you start talking, the volume drops down real quick. You can move those handles around to adjust your timing. You want the music to fade right before you talk. Again, there’s a graphic on the website that shows you what it should look like.

For this demo, I’m just gonna do about 20 seconds of music. So about 20 seconds into the music, right click and select Split. This splits the music file into two pieces. Move the second piece down towards the end of your voice track. Add another handle about 5 seconds from the end of you first segment and drag it up so that it’s even with the first handle you did. You should now have something that looks like this.

Fade out

Hit the home key on your keyboard to take you to the beginning of the file, then click Play. Listen to the music and the fade out. Pay attention to the timing. If it sounds good, you’re set. If not, play with the handles to get it to work. Remember, this green line represents the volume level of the music, so you just tell it what to do. As the play head moves through the file, the volume of the music follows the green line. The next step is to do the same thing, but in reverse.

This time you’ll use the rest of your music file for your outro. Move the second half of the music down to the end of your voice file. Let the music stick past the voice for 3 to 5 seconds. That’s how long the music will play after you stop talking. Drag the left side of the outro so that the outro is maybe 30 seconds long. You’re gonna set your volume levels like a mirror image. This time you start at zero and fade in to a good music bed level. Then after you’re done talking, bring the volume up. It should look like the Fade Out image on the site.

Fade out

Position your play head to just before the fade out, and click play to see how it sounds. If you need to, play with the levels and the positioning.

Make sure you’re still in Multitrack View and click File and Save which will save your session, that includes all your audio files and their positions, all these little settings that you’ve made. Next week, we’ll make your voice track sound a little more professional by doing some voice processing.

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Topics: Audio Recording Software, Audition, How to Podcast, Multitrack Recording, Production Music, Tutorial | No Comments »


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