Have you ever heard the saying, “Every video is half audio”? It’s so true. Audio can make or break your video. If you’re editing your video in Avid Media Composer then you have a ton of tools at your fingertips for you to have the perfect audio on your next project.

This article will walk you through the different audio tools, how to use them, and dozens of other tips and hacks for editing audio in Avid Media Composer. Let’s get started!

How to “See” Your Audio in the Timeline

In Avid Media Composer you can “see” your audio in the timeline by displaying the waveforms on clips. There are two different ways to do this.

To show waveforms on every clip on every track:

  1. Go to the Timeline’s Fast Menu
  2. Navigate to Audio Data
  3. Select Waveform

 

Avid Media Composer Audio Waveform

 

The other method for displaying waveforms is to only show waveforms on certain tracks. You may want to do this if you’re working on a slower system or just want to focus in on one track in particular.

Twirl open the Track Control Panel (the small triangle next to the timecode in the top left corner of the Timeline). Then click the button that looks like a waveform on the audio track of your choice.

 

Avid Media Composer Track Control Panel

 

Being able to “see” audio in your timeline is quite useful. You can quickly tell whether a clip is going to be loud or if there’s actually any audio on the clip. After enough time looking at waveforms you can get pretty good at guessing where certain words are spoken when sentences end and know when the talent messes up their lines.

 

The Different Audio Tools in Avid Media Composer

Let’s break down a handful of the different audio tools inside of Avid Media Composer.

 

Audio Tool

Avid Media Composer has an appropriately named Audio Tool. The Audio Tool displays the volume of the timeline while you’re playing back in either the Source or Record Monitor. It depends on video, of course, but a good rule of thumb is to not let your audio go above -4 if you’re looking at the left side of the Audio Tool. This will cause distortion in your audio.

Avid Media Composer Audio Tool

 

AudioSuite

AudioSuite is where you can apply different audio effects on individual clips. Here’s how to use AudioSuite:

  1. Go to the Tools menu and select AudioSuite to open AudioSuite
  2. On the AudioSuite Window, select the Track you want to apply the effect to and the drive you’ll want to render the effect to
  3. Click on the dropdown that says “None” by default and selects the effect you want to apply
  4. Click the large plug-in button to open up the effect controls
  5. In this new window, you can adjust the effect controls, tweak them, preview the audio with the applied effect, render the effect, and when you’re happy with it click OK to apply the effect onto the clip in the timeline

Avid Media Composer - Audio Suite Window

AudioSuite can do some amazing things so dig around and play with the different effects and their presets when you get a chance.

 

Audio Track Effect Tool

The Audio Track Effect Tool is very similar to AudioSuite. However, the Audio Track Effect Tool applies effects to an entire track. This can be useful if you want to add the same effect to a bunch of clips.

You’ll find the Audio Track Effect Tool under the Tools menu and by selecting Audio Track Effect. It doesn’t look like much at first:

Avid Media Composer - Audio Track Effect Tool

To use it, first select the track in the first dropdown. You can add up to five Audio Track Effects per track. That’s what the “a” stands for in the image above. Under the “No Insert” dropdown, select it then select the effect you want to apply to the track.

Once you select the effect the Audio Track Effect Tool will display the effect controls. Adjust the controls as needed and/or use the presets found in the fourth dropdown.

 

audio track effect tools - avid

 

Audio EQ Tool

The Audio EQ Tool is where you adjust the equalization of your audio. To open it, go to the Tools menu and select Audio EQ.

Under the Fast Menu is a handful of presets to get you started that you can adjust as needed.

 

Avid Media Composer - Audio EQ Tool

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the Audio EQ Tool, here’s a thorough post from Avid about it.

 

Audio Mixer

The Audio Mixer allows you to quickly adjust the volume, usually referred to as “levels,” and pan of clips. It’s found under the Tools menu and by selecting Audio Mixer.

 

Audio Mixer

Each track that’s in your timeline will have a column in the Audio Mixer. There’s a button in the second row of icons that allows you to show more than just the default four tracks next to the Bypass button. To adjust the levels of a clip, click on the box inside the Level Slider on one of the tracks and drag it up or down. Dragging it up makes the volume louder and down makes the volume softer. Alternatively, you can click inside the box that says +0.0 by default at the bottom of the Level Slider and type in a level amount. Please note that you cannot go above +12 on the Level Slider. If you drag the Level Slider all the way down it will completely kill the audio on the clip.

To adjust the pan, use the knob at the top of the track’s column and drag it left or right. You can also click inside the black box that says MID by default and type in a number anywhere from -100 to +100 to adjust the pan.

You can use the Fast Menu to apply Audio Mixer adjustments on a clip to the entire track or to a selection between in and out points. You can also quickly raise or lower the levels or adjust the pan globally by selecting Adjust Pans/Vols on Track – Global.

 

Rubberbanding Audio in Avid Media Composer

If you want to get more granular in adjusting audio levels, you can do something called rubberbanding.

Rubberbanding in Avid

To rubberband your audio:

  1. Make sure the Track Control Panel is open
  2. On the track you want to rubberband, click the icon to the right of the waveforms icon which looks like a straight line attached to a diagonal line and then select Volume
  3. Make sure Keyframe Mode is on
  4. Then click the Add Keyframe button or use your keyboard shortcut for it if you have one (the Add Keyframe button can be found in the FX tab of the Command Palette if you don’t have it on your interface or keyboard)
  5. Move the playhead and click the Add Keyframe button again
  6. Click on any of your keyframes and drag it up or down to raise or lower the audio levels
  7. Playback your timeline to see what the adjustment sounds like
  8. Repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 as necessary

 

A Couple More Quick Tips

Here’s a few quick tips to help you with audio editing in Avid Media Composer:

  • Don’t forget you can apply dissolves to your audio tracks. Click the Quick Transition icon or hit the backslash (\) key to open up the Quick Transition Tool. From here you can add a dissolve to any clip on any track where the playhead is.
  • Change the name of tracks to what the audio is. Do this by right clicking on a track name in the timeline and selecting Rename Track… Rename the track to the person’s name, or “Music” or “SFX” or whatever it is you have in your timeline so you can keep yourself organized.
  • Use Cmd+L (Mac) | Ctrl+L (PC) to make selected tracks in the timeline larger and Cmd+K (Mac) | Ctrl+K (PC) to make them smaller when rubberbanding or when wanting to see waveforms more easily.
  • In combination or instead of renaming tracks, you can use Clip Color to color the clips so you know who’s audio is who’s. You do this in a bin’s color column. Make sure in the timeline you go to the Timeline Fast Menu, find Clip Color…, and make sure Source is turned on.
  • Mute and/or solo tracks so you can focus on specific audio. You do this by clicking the S or M next to the track name in the timeline or by click the S or M in the track’s column in the Audio Mixer.

Avid Media Composer has a plethora of audio tools for you to use. Hopefully, this article will get you started on the right foot when you begin cutting the audio for your next great video.

 

More on Avid Media Composer:

Easily Slow Down or Speed Up Clips in Avid Media Composer

Color Correction Basics in Avid Media Composer

Essential Keyframing Knowledge for Effects in Avid Media Composer