Usually, editing is overlooked as a part of audio production. It’s not that engineers don’t know what it is, it’s just that it’s looked at the same way a chef would look at doing the dishes. It’s boring. It’s tedious and tiresome to go through each and every track to spot the glitches, pops and abnormal volume changes.
That said, here are some effective editing tips you can keep in mind the next time you finished recording and are deciding to dive into the mixing phase.
Every few weeks, we revisit some of our reader's favorite posts from throughout the history of the site. This tutorial was first published in September of 2010.
Tip 1: Edit Before You Start Mixing
The best way to approach a mix is if all the tracks are edited and sounding the best they can. If you dedicate a part of your session to editing your tracks the mixing aspect will be easier and more enjoyable.
Tip 2: Cut Out Any Background Noise Between Phrases
Go through all your tracks and listen to the silences between phrases.
Most of the time, especially with vocal tracks, the parts that look like silences in your DAW do have noise, very quiet breaths and the occasional lyric sheet being turned. And guess what happens when you add compression to those vocals? The noise floor goes up and now the noise is even more audible.
Tip 3: Use Fades Effectively
Sometimes, when you have a quiet backing track and suddenly you introduce more instrument to the mix, the volume change might sound abnormal. By using fades you can minimize the aural unexpectedness of adding more instruments to a mix.
Tip 4: Cut At the Zero Point
The zero point is the point in the waveform where the positive and negative side of a wave meet. This is where the volume of the wave is zero. By cutting here you can avoid clicks and pops in your audio.
Tip 5: Raise the Volume of Individual Phrases
If some phrases of a track sound much louder or quieter than the rest, rather than compressing the whole track to lower the dynamic range try raising or lowering the individual phrases. That way your compression will be more effective over the track as a whole.
Tip 6: Move Regions for Quick Fixes
If a phrase or two don’t sound completely in the pocket or a drum hit doesn’t come exactly on the beat, there is nothing wrong with a little digital magic and moving a phrase here or there if it’s just for quick fixes. But if you’re spending most of your time moving a complete bass track here or there usually you’re better off recording the whole part again.
Tip 7: Copy/Paste
The beauty of doing things in the digital domain is that you can copy and paste parts to other sections in the song.
Say your singer has a cold and his voice breaks after the first chorus, or you want to copy a guitar part to another place in the chorus. Maybe you can fly the chorus vocal into the intro parts to create a completely new arrangement. It’s very easy and quick to try out new arrangements by copying and pasting like this.
Tip 8: Use A.D.T.
In a similar vein, using artificial double tracking to double a part is an easy part of editing. Just copy and paste a phrase and displace it a few milliseconds after the original to create this effect.
Tip 9: Use Mutes
By cutting up regions into their respective intro, verse, chorus parts etc. you can create dynamics and anticipation throughout the songs.
Say you have a lonely vocal in the first verse, a doubled one in the chorus and then various harmonizations for the rest of the track. By muting some vocals and then introducing them sporadically you can create a type of suspense.
Tip 10: Get It Over With
Editing can be boring. But it’s worth it – get it over with. When you have clean tracks, devoid of background noise, fades that compliment your tracks and innovative arrangements by experimenting with regions you can clearly see how the benefits of editing reveal themselves.