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Multitrack Editing in Sony Sound Forge 10

Combine Sound Forge 10's Event Edit mode with its multichannel functionality into a multitrack editing application By Jeffrey P. Fisher

Sound Forge has always excelled at being a solid and dependable mono and two-track recorder and editor. Version 9 of the software brought multichannel support which many people misinterpreted to mean multitrack functionality. Multichannel really means the program can handle files beyond stereo such as 5.1 surround sound files.

The latest version 10 brings many new functions, but can you multitrack yet? Yes, no, and sort of. Yes, you can record multiple channels at once (depending on your audio hardware), but no you can't overdub. Fortunately, the new Event Edit mode adds a serviceable, albeit rudimentary, multitrack editing workflow. For simple projects, such as adding music and perhaps a few sound effects under a voice-over, this can be an effective way to work.

Multichannel setup
In Sound Forge 10, start by creating a new multichannel file (File > New). In this example, select 8 channels.

In order to hear these four stereo pairs, you may need to adjust your hardware playback settings. Go to Options > Preferences > Audio tab and select the Playback tab. Here the audio channels are horizontal across the top and the hardware outputs display vertically along the left side. Set each of the individual channels to connect to your stereo hardware outputs (Play 1 / Play 2). Simply click the radio button appropriately. Odd channels are left and even channels are right. In the figure below, the example shows selecting channel 8 to play using output 2 (right).

Your options may differ from the example above because this tutorial uses a multi-output audio interface (Focusrite Saffire). Adjust your settings so they reflect your specific hardware setup. Click OK when complete.

Adding sounds
Treat the new file as an eight-track workspace comprising four stereo pairs. Turn on the Event Edit mode by clicking the Event Tool icon on the toolbar. This allows you to freely move sounds around on the tracks and is the key to making this whole technique work.

This workflow may require that you perform prep work on some sound files before you add them to the multitrack workspace. Since these channels/tracks are stereo pairs, you must work with stereo (or dual mono) files for this to sound right. If you place a single monophonic sound on a channel, such as track 3, it will play hard-panned out the left speaker. Therefore, you must duplicate mono sounds and place them on adjacent channels/tracks so they play in the center.

To add files to the multitrack workspace, open them in separate windows and simply drag and drop them to the appropriate channel/track.

With the Event Tool still enabled, you can easily work with these separate files after you add them. You can move, rearrange, cut, copy, and paste them. Drag either edge to trim the file length. Position the cursor to make an edit and press 'S' on your keyboard to split the file into two pieces. Overlap any pieces for automatic crossfades and right click the crossfade and choose from different fade types. Drag the yellow flag near either top edge for fades in and out. Click and drag the top of the event to adjust its volume.

Notice the monophonic VO on track one in the figure below. Click and then hold down the Ctrl key as you drag a copy of it to track two (Ctrl+Drag). This will maintain the file's mono playback correctly.

You can even Process and add Effects to the individual tracks, though it may be better to treat them first before adding them to the multitrack workspace.

Continue to make adjustments to your project until you get the results you want. You really need to watch levels to avoid clipping. You will be collapsing this multitrack/multichannel file to stereo, and the levels will add up quickly. Be sure to save your multitrack/multichannel file, too.

Final mix
To create the final stereo file, return to the normal edit tool (Ctrl+D). Next choose Process > Channel converter and select the '5.1 Surround to Stereo' preset. Change all of the Source outputs to be 100.0% for all of the channels. You can use a number lower than 100% to ensure your final file will not exceed 0dBFS. Also, be sure to alternate between the Output 1 and 2 stereo pairs (all odd numbered sources should be 100% and all even numbered sources should be 100%). You may want to save this as a preset for the future by typing in a name in the preset list and clicking the disc icon.

Click OK and this will result in a final mixed stereo file. Use Save As to give this mixed file a different name so you won't accidently overwrite your multitrack master.

Sound Forge 10 will not replace a dedicated digital audio workstation, such as its sibling Vegas Pro, but in a pinch you can put these existing features to good use for your projects.

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Jeffrey P. Fisher is a Sony Vegas Certified Trainer and he co-hosts the Sony Acid, Sony Sound Forge, and Sony Vegas forums on Digital Media Net (www.dmnforums.com). For more information visit his Web site at www.jeffreypfisher.com or contact him at jpf@jeffreypfisher.com.

Related Keywords:Sound Forge tutorial, two-track recorder , editor, audio editing, multichannel support


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