Video Production

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Got questions about editing audio in Avid Media Composer? This guide should answer them all - you’ll be a master in no time.

Despite being over 30 years old, Avid Media Composer is still the most popular video editor for TV and film professionals - if you have dreams of one day working in the industry then this is a fantastic editor to learn.

There’s lots of available information online on how to edit video in Media Composer but information on editing audio is few and far between - that’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you up your audio game.

Looking for audio editing tips for a different video editor? We’ve got guides for Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

Basic Topics

How to Import Audio into Avid Media Composer

You can import audio files exactly the way you import video files or video/audio files by navigating to File >> Input >> Import Media

How to Separate Audio from Video in Media Composer

What’s important to keep in mind when working with video and audio is that they are not “technically” attached to each other. When you are working with clips on the left side of the Composer window (preview side), audio and video are together, as that is how they are on your original clip(s) (assuming they have both audio and video). Once you drop your audio into your timeline, you can set things up so that when you drag your video/audio the corresponding video/audio tracks will move along with it. Select your clip using the Red/Yellow (Overwrite/Insert) segment mode, you can then toggle the Link Selection Toggle button to separate the audio from the video.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to Select Just Audio in Media Composer

To select just audio in Avid Media Composer you’ll first have to unlink and video clips from their audio. To do this simply select the video clip and toggle the Link Selection Toggle button in the upper left hand corner of the timeline. Now you will be able to select just the audio without also selecting the video.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to View Audio Waveforms in Avid Media Composer

If you want to see the audio waveform for any particular track, simply click on the tracks waveform button, and it will appear almost immediately.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

If you want to turn on/off all the audio waveforms in one action, you can navigate to the fast menu at the bottom of the timeline window, and go to Audio Data >> Waveform.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Once you activate audio waveforms here, you’ll notice that the timeline toggles no longer work. It’s an all or nothing thing from there on out. What’s also important to keep in mind is that it can get pretty annoying to have to go back and forth to this menu to toggle everything on/off, so you can simply map it as a keyboard shortcut to either the keyboard or the composer window for easy access.

How to Sync Audio and Video in Media Composer (with Waveforms)

For this example, we’re going to assume that your video clip has rough audio on it, and you want to sync up the master audio to it. Simply select your master video clip (with rough audio attached to it), and the master audio file you want to sync to it. With both selected, right click on one of the clips and select AutoSync - the AutoSync window will appear. For this example, we’re only going to focus on the top section of the Autosync window.

In the section where it says Sync Clips Using, select Waveform Analysis. This will sync the two together as a new sub-clip, ready for you to work with.

How to Keyframe Audio in Media Composer

To work with keyframes first turn on Audio Volume data.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Once the audio volume is turned on, you can use the keyboard shortcut to add a keyframe, which is the button on both Mac and Windows. Once you press on the keyboard, you’ll immediately notice that a keyframe has been added to your clip. You can add more keyframes using the same shortcut and use them to gradually change volume and other parameters over time.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Once you’ve created a few keyframes, you can select multiple keyframes by holding down Shift and can now begin making adjustments to multiple keyframes at the same time.

You can also move keyframes back and forth down the timeline without their volume being altered by simply holding Opt/Alt and then clicking on a keyframe to move it horizontally back and forth up and down your timeline without the volume being adjusted.

How to Fade Audio In or Out in Media Composer

Simply use the Quick Transition Tool to decide your audio fade parameters. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re fading between two audio clips, or just working with a single clip on it’s own, this is the tool you’ll use.

The tool is straight forward. Enter the parameters you want, and simply select “Add”. You can add transitions to multiple edits if you like, by simply selecting the range in your timeline with IN/OUT points, and make sure the “Apply to all Transitions (IN >> OUT)” is selected. Once you have the transition in your timeline, you can dynamically adjust your fades by making sure the Dynamic Manipulation command is turned on.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to use the Audio Mixer in Avid Media Composer

You can find the Audio Mixer in Tools >> Audio Mixer. The audio mixer has two main areas for adjusting your audio. You can adjust on the track level, meaning that you can go in and adjust each track in your timeline independently of each other, or you can adjust your Master Bus which will affect the entire timeline.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Mixer Basics

The Audio Mixer (AM) is refreshingly easy to use. We’ll assume, for this article, that we’re working with 6 channels of mono audio. The way the AM works is when you park your time bar over any part of your timeline, whatever audio tracks are there will become active in the AM. Now you can simply adjust the slider to the level you like, and you’re good to go. 

In the mixer we can make volume adjustments by adjusting the faders, pan adjustments by adjusting the knobs, or we can group tracks together by clicking on the tape icon at the top of each track. Bear in mind that you can’t rename any audio tracks from the AM. You have to do that from your timeline by right clicking on a track, and selecting “Rename Track…”.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Channel Functions

A useful function within Media Composer is Track Effects. Here in the AM, we can add effects to an entire track which speeds up your overall workflow. It’s quite simple to use - there are five empty buttons above the channel fader and when you click on one of them, the Audio Track Effect Tool will appear.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

Now, you can select the tool you want to work with, let’s use Mono Reverb as an example. Keep in mind that we have this option because our track is mono, the type of effects available to you will change slightly based on your track type. Once you add the effect you’ll see it appear in your AM, and you can now click on it to change its parameters.

Using the Master Bus

The Master Bus in the AM will let you tweak the audio of your entire timeline without having to adjust a single clip!

How to record audio to Media Composer

1. Choose which track you want to record to (normally an empty track, or you can have MC create a new one for you), choose your drive and the bin you want your final sound file saved in.

2. Now, depending on how you want to do things, you can proceed one of two ways. If you have a blank timeline that you’re going to record your voice to as one long clip, simply deselect ‘Stop at End or at mark out’, hit record, and start speaking.

3. If you want to record your voiceover to your video, you have the ability to do that as well. Figure out what you want your Pre and Post Roll to be, meaning how much do you want MC to queue up your timeline to play, before it starts recording. 

4. If you want handles to allow you to crossfade into other clips, you can add them here. Normally 0.5 to 1 second is more than enough. 

5. If you want to record for only a specific duration, simply mark an in/out point in your timeline, and make sure the Stop at End or at mark out box is now checked.

6. That’s it. Hit record, your timeline will playback. If your audio levels are too low, you can head into your Settings Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+=, head to Project >> Audio Project >> Input and adjust the fader to the desired volume.

Advanced Topics

How to add Audio Effects to a track in Avid Media Composer

In the audio mixer, we can add effects to an entire track which speeds up your overall workflow. It’s quite simple to use - there are five empty buttons above the channel fader and when you click on one of them, the Audio Track Effect Tool will appear. Now, you can select the tool you want to work with, once you add the effect you’ll see it appear in your AM, and you can now click on it to change its parameters.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to use the Audio Tools in Avid Media Composer

Audio Tools can be found in the Tools dropdown menu - let’s break down what each one does.

  1. Audio Mixer - use this tool to mix audio in your timeline(s). What’s also interesting to note is that you can also use the mixer to adjust source clips, so that they will always maintain level adjustments, while still in their bin(s)
  2. Audio EQ - allows you to adjust levels of different frequencies - good for fine tuning audio
  3. Audiosuite - Here is where you will find all native, and third party audio effects. Again, this is done on a clip by clip basis.
  4. Audio Track Effects - Audio effects, that can be added to an entire track, as opposed to being added clip by clip.
  5. Audio Tool - It’s main purpose is for you to monitor audio levels being played back by a clip, or your timeline
  6. Audio Punch-In tool - You can use this tool to add voiceover and other “live” recorded elements to your timeline.

How to use the Audio Tools to Remove Echo, Reverb and Audio Buzz in Avid Media Composer

When it comes to the standard effects, both audio and video, inside of Avid Media Composer, is that these tools have not changed since they were implemented. The effects are more or less the same as they were 15 years ago, this is where third party tools come into play. If you’re serious about fixing audio inside of Media Composer, you should consider the accusonus ERA 4 bundle that will let you fix common issues like Echo issues, Pops, Clips, De-Essing and Reverb.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

These tools will remove many common issues you run into.

How to Add Audio Reverb in Media Composer

To create some realistic reverb inside of Media Composer, there’s a great Audiosuite effect called DVerb. Not only can you create your own brand of reverb, but if you take a look at the top of the effect interface, you’ll notice that there are a bunch of presets for environments like a Hall, a Church, and different rooms.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to Remove all Audio Dissolves in Media Composer

The functionality of audio effects in Media Composer is very similar to the way video effects work. To remove audio effects (and dissolves specifically) you can first select the audio track you want to remove the audio effects from, make sure the time bar is parked over top of the effect you want to remove and then press the Remove Effect button at the top of the timeline.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

If you want to remove multiple audio effects/transitions at one time, you can step into effects mode by pressing the shortcut key at the top of the timeline then, while holding Shift on the keyboard, select multiple audio transitions/effects and press the remove effect command, and multiple effects will be removed.

How to muffle audio in Avid Media Composer

There’s a few ways you can muffle audio inside of Media Composer, and it really depends on the type of sound you’re looking for. One of the most common muffling techniques editors are always looking for is the telephone sound. What’s great about this type of effect, is that it’s something that can be easily done, and there’s even a preset for it located in your Audio EQ tool.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to Slow Down or Speed Up Audio in Avid Media Composer

The best and easiest way to adjust the timing on your audio is through the Time Compression Expansion tool in the Audio Suite Effects. Once you’ve selected it, simply hit the Effect Icon to launch the effects’ parameters and adjust the Ratio dial to speed up or slow down your clip.

How to Pan Audio in Avid Media Composer

The Audio Mixer will be at the centre of your workflow for panning tracks - pan tracks left or right by adjusting the pan knobs.

How to Convert Mono Audio to Stereo Audio in Avid Media Composer

Mono audio will always be mono. It will always be a single track of audio, whether you place it on two tracks to make it “stereo” or not. The reason that we want to have our mono audio on two channels is so that when our talent is speaking, or a voiceover is being read, it will be on both the left and right channels, so that it’s “even”. This is exceptionally important when creating content for the web, as if there is an issue with someone’s speakers or headphones, your viewers might miss valuable information from your edit. To take a mono track and have it come out of both the left and right speakers, first, select the track you want to work with. Next, call up the Audio Mixer by heading over to Tools >> Audio Mixer.

How to Edit Audio in Media Composer - All You Need to Know

How to Recognize Proper Master Audio Out Levels Avid Media Composer

You can monitor Media Composer’s audio out levels using the Audio Tool. To open this go to Tools >> Audio Tool

June 03, 2020
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