Whether finishing in the NLE or just for approvals, every edit needs some amount of audio mixing. You’re doing it whether you pay any attention to it or not. So how do you approach a mix?
Step 1: Level it out
Step 2: Discover Track-based plugins
Step 3: Learn a few specifics about EQ and compression
This quick tutorial covers a great deal of ground in a fly-by approach, from how to level out your program and an intro on metering to track-based plugins including EQ and compression. I even touch on the benefits of submixing. For more on metering, check out my article on AOTG.com
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Before we can fix the POP, we need to understand where it came from. To do that, let’s quickly look at microphone theory. To oversimplify, sound waves hit a microphone and cause slight physical movement of the diaphragm, which is translated to electricity via an electromagnet. If your mouth happens to be right in front of the microphone diaphragm and you have a loud plosive “P” or “T”, it moves the diaphragm substantially more than it should. That comes through as a very aggressive (mostly low frequency) “POP”.
The best way to fix plosives is to avoid them in the recording. A pop filter helps reduce plosives by allowing the audio to pass through while dispersing the air, reducing the amount of air that hits the diaphragm. If you don’t have a pop filter, try moving the microphone position so that it is still pointing at the mouth, but the mouth is not necessarily pointing at the microphone. Another trick is to put a finger between your mouth and the microphone to disperse the air before it hits the diaphragm. This may not seem conducive to a natural performance, so I prefer one of the other techniques.
If you do need to fix it in post, just think about what you’re trying to get rid of. First, the overall energy at that point is too high, so a gain reduction is necessary – through automation and/or dynamics processing. Second, a High Pass Filter (HPF) will help roll off the very low frequencies, reducing the strength of the plosive. Now combining those two concepts, we can use a multi-band compressor to drastically reduce the energy of the low band without affecting the rest of the frequency spectrum whenever the low frequency energy is too high. I’ve actually listed these in the opposite order of how they should be processed. Let’s check it out.
NOTE: Since the writing of this article, iZotope has released RX5 Advanced, which has a one-click solution for removing plosives that is WAY better than all of these techniques combined! This article is still valid, but if you really need to remove plosives in post, the BEST way is RX:
When mixing music, whether in your favorite NLE or DAW, you need to zoom in to a sub-frame or sample-accurate mode to get your music lined up appropriately. This Mixing Minute shows you how to do just that.
A big part of mixing audio is panning, which is like steering your audio between left and right (or multi-channel for surround). Sometimes we use panning to isolate stereo sources to mono outputs, which can be the case when making splits. But what would happen if what you thought was a panner was really a balance control?
In Premiere, what looks like a panner (audio steering wheel), acts more like the two levers of a Green Machine or Pod Racer! When you want to steer left, you decrease the right – instead of steering the right channel content to the left. Sound confusing? Check out this Mixing Minute video! (and read below to dive just a little deeper)
So, how else could a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) handle stereo content? Well, with a stereo panner. ProTools, for example puts two panners on a stereo track or aux input (submix track). The default for these panners is hard left and right, but if you want to “pan” the stereo content, you have separate controls for each channel. In the case of the splits mentioned above, the right panner would be set all the way to the left.
Stereo Paner in ProTools
The resulting mono signal from the dual panners in ProTools would result in a significantly higher signal than the technique used in Premiere. In Premiere, the resulting gain is reduced by a considerable amount whether you place stereo content on a mono track or route stereo content through a mono sub. But these are topics for another post! Comments? Find me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichaelAudio. And thanks for reading!