• Carl Does Music

Audio editing tools (for music, podcast, video & films using Premiere)...

There are a few tools that are fundamental for audio editing. You'll find them in various forms within Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, and other digital audio workstations (DAWs). However, many people may not realize that Premiere Pro conveniently provides all of these, too, with simple competitively designed interfaces. Here is a list of my preferred and suggested audio plugins/tools within Premiere:

  • Dynamics: this plugin helps to balance and contain your audio levels. It contains a compressor & limiter, two plugins that are the beginning and end of my audio mixing process. You simply have to activate the compressor, then adjust the threshold (the level where compression begins taking effect) and ratio (the amount of compression strength). You can also use “make up” to account for any volume lost after compression (optional though, since you can increase volume on the clip instead). After all other audio work is complete, activate the limiter and let it do its job: limiting the maximum volume and preventing "clipping" (unwanted distortion due to being too loud).

  • DeNoiser: step back, look less closely at the name… this plugin reduces background noise. You can adjust how strongly you want it to affect your audio.

  • DeEsser: again, more self-explanatory than you think… this plugin reduces the effects of the “S” sound in recordings. It also reduces harsh, higher frequency sounds in general.

  • DeReverb: you said it before me this time… yup, it removes “reverb” or echo. This can drastically clear up a speaker’s voice or instrument’s presence when used effectively.

  • Fade in/out: this is a technique often used to end a song, but it also prevents a split audio clip from popping/cracking. SImply fade the ends of your cut clips (very minimally, if not the minimum) to ensure that they are transitioning smoothly.

  • Equalizer (EQ): this is that thing you usually see on a music studio computer and it’s what all those knobs do on a mixing board/console. Probably the hardest idea of this list to explain in writing, but EQ basically adjusts the texture of audio by adjusting frequencies/hertz. It helps sounds stand out, clear up, stay within their inherent frequency “space”, or receive more “thump”/bass. Some general concepts used with this plugin are highs, mids, and lows (all referring to the spectrum of audio frequency, that humans can hear). Other common translations for EQ is that it gives “body”, “air” or “presence” to sounds and allows them to “cut through the mix”.

  • Cutting/splitting: I vote this as the simplest and most important skill. You can use the razor tool or split short key to remove any unwanted audio (mainly silence, “ums”, lip/teeth smacking, mistakes, run-ons, distorted sounds, and lone background noise)

  • Panner: this moves sound left, right, or center of the speakers/headphones. This can be useful for making your audio project feel “wider” or more “stereo”, plus it can separate sounds so that they don’t negatively overlap or clash with others.

  • Pitch correction: this can give creative options such as making someone sound younger, more “awake”, or robotic. Many know this as “autotune”, for making singers sound less “pitchy” and more controlled.

Keep in mind that all plugins can help as well as hurt your audio. They can have unintended effects, like creating what are known as “artifacts” (distorted/noticeably altered sounds that are unwanted), and that can actually make your audio unusable. To properly mix or edit audio, you have to use your common sense and ears (even eyes, when looking at meters and certain parameters/settings). In some cases you just have to follow your own taste or outside direction (from a client, boss, etc) to achieve the audio vision. At the end of the day, audio mixing is subjective, despite some of the standards that exist (like keeping audio levels below 0dB). Have as much fun as you can and get it done.


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