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Premiere Pro Audio Tips
Clay Asbury on Fri, May 10th 0 comments
Premiere Pro continues to be regarded as one of the top NLEs for good reason. It helps editors get the job done quick. Clay Asbury is here to make your workflow even speedier with these audio tips.

Premiere Pro has been growing in popularity of late as many more editors add it to their toolbox (I edit in PP & MC, depending on the job). Premiere Pro has a strong feature set when it comes to audio, but a lot of the features aren't immediately obvious (same with FCP & MC). In this article we look at the new audio features in Premiere Pro CS 6 as well as how to accomplish specific audio tasks.

Tip 1 - New Project Audio Options

When you create a new project, you can specify the number of audio tracks and track type in the 'Tracks' tab.

The Track Type defaults to Standard, accepts mono or stereo audio, and is a welcome change to having separate tracks for mono and stereo audio in CS 5.5. (5.1 audio is still a separate type) and see the next tip for when to use adaptive audio.

New sequence audio

If you check the 'Open' box, the audio tracks will be uncollapsed in the Sequence, revealing the audio waveforms. You can also change and name the number of Audio Tracks, as well as saving your changes as a Preset. (click the 'Save Preset' button).

Tip 2 - Multichannel/Adaptive Audio

When creating a new Sequence, you can change the 'Master Audio' from Stereo to Multichannel when outputting multiple audio tracks (up to 16) with hardware that supports it. 

Adaptive Audio works with stereo/mono tracks and lets you map source tracks to specific output tracks. An example would be working with P2 files (MXF) which have 4 audio tracks.

*** third party hardware/resources ***

adaptive tracks sequence


Tip 3 - Audio Preferences

By default audio tracks are imported 'as is'. To change this behavior, go to Preferences > Audio and change the 'Use FiIe' setting to a specific type. This doesn't change audio tracks already imported into the Project, but you can use 'Modify Clip' for that (Tip 4).

The 'Automation Keyframe Optimization' settings allows to record less audio keyframes when automating audio (see Tip 9).

default audio tracks

Tip 4 - Modify Clip

Select the clip in the Project, right-click and select 'Modify Clip'.

A dialog box appears and you can change the audio to Mono, Stereo, 5.1, or Adaptive.

Note that this will not work for clips already in a Sequence, as you will get a warning that changes will not be reflected in existing timelines.

modify clip

master clips in use

Tip 5 - Clip  Audio

You can work with audio in Premiere Pro on a clip or track level. 

If you drag the yellow line for the clip up/down, you are adjusting the volume for just that clip.

By default you see clip audio in a Sequence. By clicking on the 'show keyframe' button you have options to show clip keyframes/volume and track keyframes/volume.

clip audio

You apply an audio effect to the clip by selecting it and double-clicking on an effect in the Effects Tab. You modify the effects parameters in the 'Effects Controls' Panel.

audio effects

Tip 6 - Track Audio

To change the volume for a track, click on the 'show keyframes' button and select 'Track Volume'. Then when you adjust the yellow line, it effects the the whole track.

To apply an effect to the track (say you want to EQ all the clips on the track at once), you need to use the Audio mixer.

track volume

Tip 7 - Audio Mixer Basics

You bring up the Audio Mixer from the Window menu or by selecting the Audio Workspace (Window > Workspace > Audio). This rearranges the window layout and puts the Audio Mixer top left. You can also modify the layout and save it. 

In the Audio Mixer there is a fader for each track and a Master fader. You can rename each audio track, which is a handy organizational tool. You can mute, solo, and enable a track for recording (voiceovers).

When you drag a fader for a track, it's important to remember that you are changing the audio levels for the track, not a clip.

audio workspace

Tip 8 - Audio Track Effects

There is a hidden panel on the top left of the Audio Mixer. Click the Show/Hide Effects and Sends triangle to reveal the effects and sends panel.

hidden effects/sends

Click in the top 5 slots to add an audio effect to the track. Double-click on the effect to launch the full interface for the effect.

track audio effect

Tip 9 - Audio Sends/Submix

The bottom 5 slots of the effects and sends panel are for creating a Submix.

Say you have 2 audio tracks that you want to apply the same to. You create a Submix, send to the 2 clips to the Submix, and apply the effect to the Submix. This can be a big time saver.


bottom of mixer

Tip 10 - Automation with the Audio Mixer

Premiere Pro allows you to 'ride the levels' of a track by recording keyframes automatically .

A common scenario is you have narration and music, and you want to raise the music level when there is no narration. You could do this manually but thankfully you can automate this process.  

Before you record keyframes, go to Preferences > Audio and check 'minimum time interval thinning, and change the 'Minimum time' to 300-400 milliseconds so you don't have hundreds of keyframes. This way you can manually tweak them if you want to make changes.

Change an audio track from 'Read' to 'Write', press the spacebar, drag the fader while the Sequence plays, and press spacebar again to stop recording. To see the keyframes you recorded, click on the 'show keyframes' button and select 'Track Keyframes' in the Sequence.

write audio

keyframes in sequence

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