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Sound Mixing The Art Of The Cross Fade

December 19, 2013 IADT General, Audio Production 0 Comments

Sound Mixing: The Art Of The Cross Fade.What do you do when you're using royalty-free, prerecorded music to underscore a visual production, but the music is too long for the length of the visual? You edit the music. Today's multitrack sound-mixing software makes it easy to edit music, but sometimes a simple cut won't do. A bit more finesse is necessary. Enter the cross-fade.

The cross-fade, also known as the cross-dissolve, refers to one clip fading out at the same time another fades in. This creates a more seamless transition between the two elements than a cut would.

Musical Knowledge

Sound mixing requires a sensitive ear. When trying to determine a good place to edit music, listen for a similar stanza, musical phrase or melody so that when one piece of music fades into the other your ear simply thinks it's listening to an organic part of the original musical performance. Listen for a place that, when one beat or note ends at the end of the fade out, the very next similar beat or note begins at the end of the fade in. That is where your cut is. It is where your overlaps are complete.


According to Premiumbeat.com, many multitrack audio editing programs offer rubber-banding capability. By clicking in the center of the audio track, you create a dot or key-frame. What is to the left or right of this key-frame can then be clicked and dragged up or down using the mouse; this increases or decreases the audio level.

Overlap Manually

A simple overlap, where the fade out happens exactly as the fade in happens, tends to create a lull or drop in the overall audio level, alerting the ear to the manipulation of the original audio performance. Some sound editing software can electronically compensate for this effect, but it's best to manually control this. Begin your fade in on the audio clip that is softer sooner, or begin the fade out on the audio clip that is softer later, thus allowing the louder audio clip to overlap the softer clip more slowly. This creates a smoother, less obvious transition; your ear will not pick up on the manipulation.

Developing a keen ear and a sense of how to use your multitrack audio editing software will become second nature over time, and you'll learn to give your sound mixing a polished, professional sound.

Photo credit: morgueFile


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