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Capturing long vocal tracks is no easy task. Coughing, sneezing, mumbling, stuttering and background noise are just some of the factors that can affect or spoil your recordings. For this reason, multiple takes are essential to creating a clear and immersive listening experience.
Unless you're in that small percentage of people who can capture a perfect hour-long episode on the first try, your sessions are likely to consist of a selection of different shots that need to be pieced together.
The process of editing multiple audio clips into a single episode can seem daunting for first-time producers, but it doesn't have to be. Today we are going to talk about crossfade, one of the most important audio editing tools.
What is the garage band?
For this guide, we'll be using Garage Band. This DAW is free and comes pre-installed on any Mac OS computer. Don't let the lack of price fool you, because Garage Band is an incredibly powerful DAW. The software itself is a stripped-down version of Logic Pro, Apple's flagship music creation suite, so the tracking and editing features are of professional standard.
With up to 256 available tracks, each with compression, limiting and EQ inserts, Garage Band is more than capable of handling your basic recording, editing and processing needs. The only downside is of course this software is exclusive to Mac but for those using Windows we have a guide to '', another free DAW with comparable functionality.
What is a fade?
Dissolves and dissolves are essential in audio production as they allow for seamless transitions from one audio file to another. The immediate benefit of this technique is that it allows you to record in sections and also allows you to reorder your podcast to improve pacing. Another bonus is the ability to reuse audio files between episodes, which is especially useful if you have a fixed intro, ending, or recurring sponsor segment.
A single track fade ensures that the audio file stops without sound artifacts. If the fade is not used and there is a sudden cut, the drop in level will be perceived as clicking noise. While this noise can be avoided by cutting at the zero point of a waveform, a fade lets you cut where it sounds best. At the same time, a fade gradually lowers the volume before stopping, creating a smoother transition to silence.
A crossfade is simply when a fade out passes from one track to another (automation looks like an X, hence the name). This technique is used to great effect in a variety of different situations. When changing takes, a crossfade can smooth out the change and create a seamless transition.
How to hack no Garage Band
Before we get to the crossfade, it's important that we cover the fundamentals of editing. In the example below, we have an episode divided into two takes. As you can see, the second shot starts on the 7th.ANDslash, which means the first shot must be cut at this point.
While it seems obvious to cut as soon as the second take arrives, for crossfade purposes it is good practice to leave some overlap, allowing the faders to gradually automate the volume of each take.
To cut at this point, you must first move the playhead to where you want to split (using the timeline below the bars). When you're satisfied with the cut point, you can right-click and press "Split on playback" or use the keyboard shortcut "CMD T" to cut and remove excess audio.
In the example, we also need to free up a slot for a sponsored segment. To do this, we need to find a meaningful place to change the sponsor (in this case, the second take). Instead of muting this time, we move the second half of the shot to the end of the segment (while still keeping an overlap for the crossfades).
How to crossfade in Garage Band
After all the shots have been placed in the correct order, it's time to create the fades. Unlike Logic, which offers a simple drag-to-crossfade option, Garage Band's fades are created using volume automation. With that in mind, you need to go to "Shuffle" and select "Show Automation" (or press A).
With the automation view active, the next step is to zoom in to the point you want to cross and click on the volume line (where automation should be set by default). You'll notice that clicking on the gray line will turn it yellow and add a point. This point can be dragged to align with the start and end of overlapping tracks.
Then you need to click at the end of the first shot and the beginning of the next shot to create two more points. Drag these second points to the bottom of the -infinity dB tracking track. If your automation looks like the image below, congratulations, you've just done your first dissolve!
Now that you know the basics, be sure to check your fades. The overlap time may need to be longer or shorter depending on a variety of different factors. So it's up to you to listen and decide what sounds best.
As you can see, all of our audio tracks are now merged together to create a seamless listening experience. To further enhance the listening experience, fade outs have been added to the intro and end to stop a sudden start and stop at the beginning and end of the episode.
Remember that the most effective dissolution is one that is barely noticeable. So try to plan time cuts and dissolves so they don't mute speech or start mid-sentence for best results. Another thing to consider is the volume of both connectors. The transition can be more noticeable when one jack is louder than the other, so be sure to match your signal levels for maximum impact.
Hopefully, if you follow this tutorial, you'll be well on your way to producing the audio for your own podcast. Just remember that production, like recording, is an art and audio should be processed based on what you think sounds best.
Different tones may require different approaches to crossfading. For example, a fast-paced episode might require quick transitions to maintain the energy of the spoken content. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, a longer fade can help convey a sense of drama or humor.
Regardless of the effect you're trying to achieve, volume automation is an incredibly versatile tool, and fades are just the tip of the iceberg of what you can achieve with an understanding of automation. Now that you're familiar with this basic editing principle, it can be tempting to spend days going over every detail of the episode, but over-editing can cause more problems than it solves.
For information about the consequences of overprocessing and how to avoid them, see our article “How long should it take to edit a podcast? our leader'.