Fading and Panning
Audio mixing consists of two primary tasks: fading and panning. Fading audio adjusts its gain level, or volume. Fading up audio increases its volume; fading down decreases it. Fading helps you match the audio levels of different clips, as you would with dialogue. Or you can create audio transitions or effects, such as making a car sound more and more distant.
Panning affects how a clip's audio is distributed between the left and right audio speaker. Panning audio can imply an apparent position for a sound.
Starting with Premiere 6, you can mix audio by using either the timeline controls or the audio mixer. In the timeline, you can manipulate lines that represent fade and pan levels. The line is sometimes referred to as a "rubber-band," and manipulating it is called "rubber-banding" (Figure 8). Adjusting the slope of the lines affects the clip's volume and distribution. This method is precise and visually clear. On the other hand, it doesn't provide simultaneous audio playback.
Figure 8 In the timeline, you adjust panning and fading by using "rubber-band" controls.
The Audio Mixer window resembles a traditional audio mixing board (Figure 9). It controls fading and panning in real time, using more conventional-looking fader controls and pan knobs. This method favors simultaneous audio response to precise graphical control.
Figure 9 In the Audio Mixer window, you adjust panning and fading by using controls similar to those of a traditional mixing board.
Another important distinction between the two methods is the context in which they're used. The timeline controls are clip-oriented, whereas the audio mixer is track-oriented. In other words, you manipulate the fade and pan lines for each clip in the program in the timeline; you use the audio mixer to mix entire tracks of the program. You can switch between methods at will, depending on your preferences and the task at hand.
Percentages versus dB
In previous versions of Premiere, audio levels were measured strictly in terms of percentages. Though this was meaningful in relative terms, it didn't correspond to conventional sound measurements.
Fortunately, Premiere can now display levels in terms of decibels, or dB. A decibel is the standard measure of acoustical power used by audio professionals everywhere. To double the volume, increase the level +6dB.
Technically speaking, a decibel is one-tenth of a bel, which measures the ratio of two audio power levels--usually, an audio signal and a reference (such as the threshold of hearing). And yes, it's bel as in Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone guy.