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Mixing Audio in Premiere

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Antony Bolante explores the improvements in Premiere 6's audio features used in making subtle adjustments to audio tracks.
This article is excerpted from Premiere 6 for Macintosh and Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide, by Antony Bolante.
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Whether you use all 99 possible audio tracks in Premiere or only two, you will probably need to make subtle adjustments to them to achieve the best overall effect. This process, known as audio mixing, can be accomplished by manipulating audio clips in the timeline or by employing the new Audio Mixer window.

If you thought the last version of Premiere expanded its audio features, you'll be that much more impressed with the improvements you'll find in Premiere 6. In addition to the real-time Audio Mixer window, Premiere 6 includes an extensive list of audio effects from After Effects. In the timeline, audio pan and fade controls are easier to see and select, and you can toggle the waveform display on and off.

You'll be happy to know that you can hear the results of audio mixing right away, in real time. Although multiple layers of audio or audio effects must be previewed to be heard, previewing audio doesn't take nearly as long as previewing video effects.

Viewing Audio Information

In Premiere 6, expanded audio tracks display information a little differently than in previous versions. Whereas Premiere 5.x displayed audio fade and pan controls at the same time, relying on colors to differentiate them, Premiere 6 uses buttons to toggle between displaying fade and pan controls. The expanded audio track also allows you to show and hide audio waveform displays. If you're using audio effects, you can switch from showing the fade or pan controls to showing keyframe markers, which you use to change an audio effect over time.

To show controls in an audio track:

  1. If necessary, expand an audio track by clicking the triangle next to the name of the track (Figure 1). The track expands.

  2. Figure 1 Expand the audio track by clicking the triangle next to the name of the track.

  3. In the audio track, click one of the following buttons (Figure 2):

    • To view pan controls, click the blue pan control button .

    • To view fade controls, click the red fade control button .

    • To view keyframes for audio effects, click the keyframes button .

    Selecting one of these buttons switches the other two off.

  4. Figure 2 To view keyframes, pan controls, or fade controls, click the corresponding button in the expanded audio track.

To view waveforms:

  1. If necessary, expand an audio track by clicking the triangle next to the name of the track. The track expands.

  2. In the audio track, click the waveform button to toggle a visual representation of the audio on and off.

    When the button is selected, a waveform is visible (Figure 3); when the button is deselected, no waveform appears (Figure 4).

  3. Figure 3 Select the waveform button so that the audio clip displays a waveform.

    Figure 4 Deselect the waveform button to conceal the waveform.


  • Waveforms appear only when the timeline is viewed at (or closer than) the time unit you set in the Timeline Window Options dialog box.

Logarithmic Fades and Enhanced Rate Conversion

When Premiere processes audio, it first converts, or resamples, the audio to the sample rate that you specified in the project settings. Enhanced Rate Conversion determines the level of quality used in converting to a higher sample rate (upsampling) or to a lower sample rate (downsampling). Set Enhanced Rate Conversion to Off for faster processing but lower quality, Better for medium speed and quality, or Best for maximum quality but slower processing.

When you choose Logarithmic Audio Fade, Premiere processes gain levels according to a logarithmic scale; when the option is unselected, Premiere processes gain changes by using a linear curve. Conventional volume controls also use a logarithmic scale, which emulates the way that the human ear perceives audio gain increases and decreases. Logarithmic fades sound more natural but require more processing time.

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