Digital Media Concepts/Audio Editing

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Overview[edit | edit source]

Audio mixer at the Bull & Gate pub in Kentish Town, North London

Various media, including music, documentaries, tv shows, movies, and more, use audio editing during the production process. The process of audio editing involves modifying length, speed, volume, and creating additional versions of the audio files, such as loops. In the pre-digital world, audio editing was done mostly with analogue tape and razor blades by splicing and taping.[1] Now, audio editing is almost always done using a computer and audio editing software.

A Brief History of Audio Production[edit | edit source]

The first attempt at audio recordings was made in 1877 by Thomas Edison, followed by further attempts from others. Edison’s invention, the phonograph, opened up the possibility of recording sound, but unfortunately, the results were not audible.[2] Because he considered sound recording a low priority at the time, he shifted his attention to the incandescent light bulb, one of his world-famous inventions.

A decade later, Charles Tainter and Alexander Graham Bell jointly developed the wax cylinder phonograph. The wax cylinder phonograph rekindled Edison's interest, and he continued to improve the phonograph.

Analogue recording created audio reels that were made from analogue tape and had to be manually cut. Splicing, or cutting the tape, and taping was extremely time consuming and required incredible amounts of precision. Occasionally, taping would prevent an uninterrupted and seamless playback of the audio clips.[3]

Fast forward to 1927, with the release of The Jazz Singer, the first film with audio was produced. In the time that followed, studios around the globe began using pre-recorded music, lip-synching, and purchased audio recording equipment to use for their motion picture productions.[4] Soundstream, a digital audio recording company, began developing their first digital audio recorder in 1975 which was released in 1977.[5] Soundstream's recorders were equipped with analogue to digital converters that allowed them to input information into computers for editing.[5] It was during this time that audio recordings began their digital transition.

Digital Audio Editing[edit | edit source]

Most digital audio editing is done using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), created in the early 1980s and still evolving today, offering recording and editing functionality on computer-based systems.[6] DAWs developed into multitrack recordings, making it possible for producers to mix audio without outboard gear as early as 1996.[5] Today's DAWs can process a wide range of effects and sounds, as well as handle a range of styles and genres of music. There are many functions available, including cutting, splicing, copying and pasting, pitch bending, audio stretching, equalizing, panning, and more.

Music editing basics:[7]

  • Capture a high-quality recording with clear and audible sound. A good recording is crucial because unless there is a good recording to work with, no amount of editing will make a flawed recording sound good.
  • Adjust the volume to ensure that all tracks are at the appropriate volume for blending.
  • Align the timing of the sound with the music by dragging it around. Make sure the beginnings and the releases are in sync by slowing or speeding up the audio and cutting clips to match.
  • Utilize a pitch bending tool or autotune to correct pitch errors.
  • Enhance the sound by equalizing the bass and treble and if desired, add effects such as reverb, echoes, distortion, etc.
  • Copy and paste similar sections to reduce workload.
  • Save, mix, and export audio.

Audio Editing Softwares Today[edit | edit source]

With today's technology, audio editing and production is much more accessible than ever before thanks to the variety of software available. In fact, many producers produce high-quality work from home. Moreover, audio-related instruments are more readily available online for purchase, which means that desired results can be achieved with fancy gadgets or even with the simplest of equipment, a computer and a microphone. When it comes to audio editing, there are online websites, software downloads, free options, and paid services to choose from. Popular audio editing softwares and websites in 2022 include:

  • Ableton Live
  • Adobe Audition
  • Audacity
  • Bandlab
  • Cakewalk (View image on the right)
  • FL Studio
  • Garageband
  • Logic Pro X
  • Ocenaudio
  • Soundtrap
  • Studio One 5

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Audio Editing | Glossary of Music Production Terms | Media Music Now". Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  2. “Charm.” A Brief History of Recording to ca. 1950, March 6, 2022.
  3. audioexmachina (2012-02-04). "A Journey in Audio Editing History, Part 1". audioexmachina. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  4. The Evolution of Recording and Mixing Consoles.” The Evolution of Recording and Mixing Consoles | GC, 4 Nov. 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Musicology: A brief history of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)". Mixdown Magazine. 2021-07-27. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  6. Randi Altman (2013-10-23). "A look at the history of audio post production". postPerspective. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  7. "Editing Music". Retrieved 2022-03-07.