New Tools for Music Editing

Avid’s new stereo tracks and Real Time Audio Suite effects are both liberating and frustrating. Introduced in Version 5, stereo tracks allow editors to handle stereo pairs as single objects in the timeline, and control them with a single set of audio keyframes. RTAS effects let you apply up to five real-time audio filters to each track, quickly and easily. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you can’t automate these effects in any way — you can’t turn them on and off, and can’t change their values, anywhere within a sequence. Nor can you edit them from one sequence to another — you have to copy to a bin first.

Stereo clips are problematic, too, because they can only reside in stereo tracks. You can’t put a clip wherever you want, you have to dedicate a track to these clips, again, throughout your show. Meaning that if you have only a few such clips, you’re wasting a whole track for them. And since Media Composer only plays 16 tracks, a couple of stereo tracks — each equivalent to two mono tracks — can waste resources big time.

But despite these limitations, I’ve been using both features to good effect, mostly for editing music. The technique I’ve come up with is to dedicate two stereo tracks to temp music, and one to reverb. That’s right — a whole track to reverb — the same reverb throughout the show. For picture editors used to conserving track space, this seems almost absurd, but once you’ve wrapped your mind around it, it can be effective. End your music wherever you want, then cut the last beat to the reverb track. Voila — you’ve created a ring out. (In some cases, you’ll need to add short dissolves or fades to smooth out the transition.) Avid’s new AIR reverb plug-in, included with MC 5.5, is particularly good for this purpose. Unlike the old D-Verb, AIR reverb is more easily controlled and sounds better. You can simply set a duration (Reverb Time), measured in seconds. You’ll also want to adjust the Mix parameter, which controls how much of the original, dry audio is combined with the reverb (50% is a good starting point).


Avid could make some improvements to this situation. Automation for RTAS is essential. Likewise, the ability to edit RTAS effects when cutting from one sequence to another. And the AIR plug-ins, good as they are, include presets in Pro Tools, which are missing in MC. Finally, if we’re going to segregate stereo and mono clips into specialized tracks, then we need more tracks — 24, at least.

For more tips like this, check out my book, “Avid Agility,” available from Amazon.

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5 Comments on “New Tools for Music Editing”


  1. i’ve been experimenting with this same thing, but without the stereo tracks – tried a bit of that early on and got scared, slammed the door and ran away. maybe i’ll steel myself and give it another shot. but i’ve been doing the exact same thing with a dedicated reverb track (even sometimes two, one for a short reverb and one for longer), for either general reverb or ringouts, as you mentioned. this has just been on commercials this year so it’s short form, which requires less commitment to the concept. but it’s a good testing ground to have some kind of system in place for the next show when dedicating a track or two has a bigger impact.

    have to try out that AIR effect – definitely find d-verb wonky to deal with…


  2. and yes there needs to be a better way to move these RTAS effects from one sequence to another (and also to know they are in there when looking at the timeline – easy to forget they are in there when the timeline is collapsed – we’ve passed that note on to avid – gotta have some indicator at the top level of the timeline). would be nice if you could copy a track or clip to the clipboard and choose to also copy the RTAS effects…


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