Handbook for the URN Advanced Radio
The essential working tool for any journalist on the job is a notebook. But, in addition
to the notebook, a radio journalist must always carry a recorder to cover a story.
Covering a story by recording its audio away from one’s station or base is what is
commonly called field recording or location recording.
Unlike a studio, which is a closed and controlled environment, field recording
presents many challenges. While unwanted external sounds, such as traffic noise,
and internal interference, for instance echoes, are cut to a minimum in studio,
recording in the open makes one susceptible to all sorts of distracting and competing
This chapter on field recording seeks to guide the radio journalist on how best to
record good audio while working out doors and in environments such as offices.
We start by familiarizing ourselves with the instrument used to capture sound, the
microphone. We then move on to the equipment used to record it, the recorder. And
we finally review how best to use both tools together.
What type of Microphone should you use?
If you’re going out recording with almost any type of portable recorder, you’ll need a
Microphone. For interview work, go for a mono mike. You can use a stereo
Microphone for recording ‘atmos’ and ‘actuality’, but if you want to record voices in
stereo, you need to think carefully about how many mikes you will need and where
you’re going to place them.
Cardioid mikes
These mikes are directional, and they’re more sensitive to sounds coming from one
particular direction, often the front of the mike. Cardioid mikes are good for favouring
one sound while rejecting another from a different direction, but you need to know
what you’re doing: if you’re just starting out, take an omni mike. It’s the most flexible,
but Cardioid mikes need more careful use.
Omni-directional Microphones
An omni is an omni-directional mike, meaning it picks up sounds from all directions.
It’s a good general-purpose mike, particularly useful for interview work, but also
good for recording atmos and actuality. Many a package has been made using only
an omni mike.
The Cardioid mike and Omni-directional mikes are the most common types of mike but you’ll also come across these…
Gun mikes
Useful for recording more distant sounds, e.g. a voice on a stage or the speaker at a
press conference.
Your gun mike should come with a grip or stand.
Clip mikes
Often used in TV, as they’re less obtrusive. Clip mikes are usually small omni mikes,
and come in a box. There are a variety of sizes, but they’re all small enough to clip
on to clothing.
Where you clip the mike is very important - too far from the voice and it will sound
distant; too close to the chin and it can sound muffled.
You need to consider your interviewee’s clothing - stiff fabric will rustle. And if you
clip a mike to a man’s shirt, make sure that his tie doesn’t fall across the mike.
Clip mikes have their uses but hand-held mikes will generally give you a better
The Microphone And Its Accessories
As well as your mike, you will need:
A windshield: often a foam cap, which covers the recording end of the mike. The
windshield minimises wind noise on location.
A lead: connects your mike to your portable recorder. Before you set off, check
you’ve got the correct lead with the right connections for the portable recorder you’re
Batteries: some mikes need to be powered by a small battery. Check before you
leave and replace if you’re in any doubt about how old the battery is. If you’re going
to be spending a long time on location, take spare batteries.
Tip: For emergency waterproofing of your mike (if you really have to record that
location interview in the pouring rain) slip a condom over your mike, under the
Headphones: Don’t forget…a mike will pick up noises that you may not hear - or
that your brain tends to filter out. So always wear headphones when you’re
How to hold your mike
Hold the mike firmly but comfortably, and well away from the connection at the
bottom with top of the mike cable wrapped around the hand that is holding the mike.
If you’re recording a lengthy interview, you may want to rest your mike-holding arm
on a chair or table.
Support the lead so that it doesn’t sway or knock against chairs, tables, yourself etc.
If you’re using a clip mike on an interviewee, check the mike position isn’t recording
rustle from clothing
Let rings or bracelets knock against the mike or the lead
Grip the mike too hard - your hand will go numb and may start shaking. If your arm
does start to feel tired (and it will), simply ask the interviewee to pause for a moment,
and swap to the other arm/hand.
Fiddle with the mike in your hand as you use it - this will cause mike bumps
Hearing what your mike will hear
Indoor objects:
If you’re inside, listen for the noises of air conditioning, clocks, the hum of electrical
equipment, distant toilets, music, traffic, lifts, etc. These can cause you editing
problems later on. Ask if electrical equipment can be switched off or clocks moved -
but don’t do this yourself, just in case any accidents occur. Check you’re not on an
airport flight path.
Computers, mobile phones and fluorescent lighting may cause RF (radio frequency)
interference. This will give you an unwanted buzzing, clicking or humming sound.
What kind of room are you in?
Large rooms (like halls, churches etc) can be very reverberant, giving you a
'bathroomy' sound to your interview. You can cut down on this 'boomy' sound by
holding the mike closer to your interviewee’s mouth. (But beware of ‘popping’.) You
could also try to find a smaller room - even a cupboard may give you a better sound
If you have to do your interview in a large reverberant room or hall, don’t do your
interview near the centre of the room. Try to move to the side but not a corner (which
would give you a boxy sound). Don’t stand too close to the wall, or you’ll pick up too
much reflected sound. Closing the curtains (if there are any) will cut down the
reverberation in a large room.
If you’re outside, find a sheltered location to protect the mike from wind noise. Rain
will make a noise if it hits the mike. (In fact, water and any technical equipment don’t
get on together.) If you’re near traffic, choose a side street rather than a main road.
A car makes a useful temporary studio if the weather or traffic noise is awful.
Where should you position your microphone?
Exactly where to place your mike depends on what kind of mike you’re using - but
here are some general rules:
In a quiet location and using an omni mike, hold the mike about 6-8 inches/150-200
cm from the voice (yours or your interviewee’s). If you want use your voice and your
interviewee’s, they need to be the same level. You will achieve this by one of two
In a quiet location - find the midway point between you and your interviewee and
hold mike there (or slightly nearer the quieter voice).
In a noisy location - move the mike between you and your interviewee as you take it
in turns to speak, but beware of mike noises that may be caused by the movement
of the mike and the lead.
You can, of course, record your interview sitting, standing or walking. You always
want to get as close as you can to your interviewee, without imposing on their space.
It’s better to sit or stand slightly to one side rather than directly opposite, which can
feel confrontational.
Avoiding ‘popping’ and other mouth noises:
If you hold the mike too close to some interviewees, you’ll get a nasty ‘popping’ sound caused by the air formed by sounds such as ‘b’ and ‘p’ hitting the mike. This
is not a problem you can completely cure by editing, so avoid popping by
¾ Always wearing headphones so that you’ll hear it when it occurs
¾ Angling the mike to one side of the popping person’s mouth.
¾ The nervous interviewee may have a dry mouth, which makes clicking or
smacking noises when they speak. Give them a drink of water.
Mike positions and controlling levels
Often you’ll need to do more than simply set levels and let the recording run.
Here are some common problems and their solutions…
Problem 1:
Recording an interview in a noisy environment (e.g. busy street, sports event, press
conference) and trying to get a good level on the speaker/interviewee above the
background noise
Solution 1:
Position the mike closer than usual, but be very careful to avoid popping. Set your
level with the mike in this position.
Problem 2:
Recording both a quiet and loud voice - and getting the balance of levels right.
Solution 2:
So that you’re not constantly fiddling with the levels, set your level against one of the
voices and then position the mike so that it is nearer to the quiet voice and further
away from the loud voice
There are many different types of recorders on the market today. They however all
fall under two categories: Digital audio recorders, and analogue audio recorders.
The analogue recorders are the more traditional and these are basically tape
recorders. The digital recorders are new technology and include recorders such as
the DAT, Mini Disc, and more recently the I-river.
DAT stands for Digital Audio Tape, and as can be deduced from its acronym DAT
uses tape. Though it has been around for a while however, DAT is not commonly
used and both its recorders and tapes are fairly scarce.
The Mini Disc is more popular but its popularity is dwindling. It uses a small
recordable disc, which can take up to eighty minutes of audio. Though it was a break
through in terms of superior audio fidelity for its price, malfunctions such as easy
loss of audio and breakdown due to dust render it undesirable to most radio
The I-river is the latest technology and this is a simple digital recorder that records
onto a built in hard drive. The I river has between three hours to forty hours of
recording space depending on one’s preferred audio settings. Put another way,
recording at the best quality it has space of up to three hours, at the worst quality
setting it can take up to forty hours. Though it records in the MP3 sound format
(inferior quality to wav), its audio is brisk, sharp and clear when set correctly.
Location Recording Review
Before going out to the field or location ensure that:
You pre test your equipment.
Your recorder is fully charged, or that your batteries have power.
You have sufficient memory space, or enough tapes/ discs for your recording.
Your microphone is working well.
The joints of your cable are intact and do not produce crackle sounds when
You have your windshield.
You have your headphones.
You are familiar with your recorder and are comfortable and confident using it.
On Location
Make a quick assessment of sound interruptions by wearing your headphones,
and do what it takes to minimise them.
You could:
Move further away from the noise source.
Shield the wind using your body.
Get closer to the interviewee.
Record the constant sound separately e.g. hum of a near by computer. (This can
then be eliminated in studio)
Shut the windows to cut out external noise.
In short improvise to ensure that you get the best possible sound in the prevailing
Principles Of Radio Editing
Work out what the piece is all about
Listen and log your material
Plot overall structure
Select your clips
Write linking commentary
Record voice track
Mix voice track and clips
What is editing?
Editing can be defined as “preparing for publication or public presentation”. It can
also mean to assemble by cutting or re-arranging.
Editing for radio means preparing a programme or item by starting with basic sound
elements and obtaining a finished product, which is ready for broadcast. It can be
thought of as cutting and sewing different pieces of sound together.
It is not a discipline that is heavily ridden with theory or instructions. It is a simple
method for taking raw elements, preparing them, writing down the plan for the
production in an orderly fashion and, finally, assembling the different parts into a
finished product.
Editing your programme
Step 1 - Listen to voice elements
This first step requires selecting the voice elements you will be using in your final
production. You need to identify what you will use and start cleaning it. Note which
parts you will use, including start and end time. With digital editing, you can already
start trimming parts of the voice, useless silences etc.
Step 2 - Listen to all other elements
In this step, you select background sounds, sound effects and music. It is important
that you perform this step after preparing voice as you will be in a position to decide
what you need, for instance, background sounds used as pauses. Decide and listen
to which music or sound effects you will be using.
Note them, including start time and end time. If you are working with digital
equipment, you can cut out parts already and save them in appropriately named
files. Do not over cut at this stage; you may change your mind later on.
Step 3 - Listen again, edit and start your cue sheet
This is the final preparatory stage before the final mix.
Cut and clean voice to its final state.
Listen to all elements again.
Note voice and all other elements on a cue-sheet.
You are now ready to perform the final mix.
Note: Before you edit voice, make sure you have a copy of the material in its original
form. You may change your mind later and decide to use it or need it in another
Step 4 - Final mix
Once all your elements are ready, you can start the final assembly of your
production. You should adjust your cue sheet as you go along, you may need it if
you wish to change you production later on.
Note: Once your final mix is done, make sure you keep not only the single sound file
resulting from your mix but also the different parts you used to assemble it. If you are
using multi track software, make sure you also keep the mix file so you can retouch
the mix later without needing to redo the whole mix.
Cue sheet
Whether you edit a piece with the help of a technician or not, it will always help to
prepare a cue sheet. It will be your guide as to exactly what should be used when
while editing your story or programme. The usefulness of a cue sheet increases with
programme length. Shorter programmes, with fewer elements can get away with a
quick cue sheet. For larger programmes with many elements, a clean cue sheet
becomes imperative. Also, producers using digital editing will feel less of a need for
a very precise cue sheet as they can more easily correct timing on the fly. A cue
sheet template should be created once and copied for all to use.
A good cue sheet should include for each element:
Start time.
End time.
Name or identifier of sounds.
Fade information (in or out).
Comments (anything that can help with the mixing).
The following is a simple cue sheet example:
Secs Fade
00:00 00:45 Jingle
Cut short
00:35 00:60 Voice introduction
00:55 01:07 Ambiance background voices
01:05 02:05 Interviewee one
02:00 02:12 Ambiance background voices
02:10 02:25 Voice middle
02:25 02:58 Interviewee two
02:54 03:06 Ambiance background voices
03:02 03:42 Voice final
03:43 03:48 Interviewee two quote.
03:45 04:45 Show theme, 60 sec
File or element
End at punch
Using other sounds
Background sounds should serve as full stops and commas to the voice. They
should be used carefully to mark pauses or to let the listener think about what has
just been said. Whenever possible, sound effects should be recorded separately
from the interview itself. It is much easier to lay over sound effects than to have to
work with a voice recording that already contains background noise.
Editing voice
The most time consuming part of radio editing is the editing of voice. Editing voice is
useful to:
Cut out parts that are not needed.
Shorten lengthy or unclear answers.
Re-organize the order of questions or segments.
Silence can be left when it is significant or actually adds to the meaning of a
One must beware of over editing segments. The speaker’s original meaning must
always be left intact. This is a fundamental rule of ethics in journalism.
Translation voice-over
When recording translations, one must use a technique called voice-over.
In voice-overs, the original speaker's voice is usually at a very faint volume.
The voice over usually begins with a very short stretch of the original speakers voice
at normal volume. It usually ends with a longer stretch of the original speaker's
voice, to allow listeners get a feel of the original speakers voice, tone and emotion.
If there are particularly intense moments in the element, one may pause the
translator for a moment, and leave the original voice at a normal level- for instance, if
the interviewee cries, screams, hesitates in a revealing way or is just overwhelmed
with emotion. Finding appropriate moments for the original voice adds to the realism
of the translation.
There are many benefits to digital audio editing. You can edit your recordings more
precisely and create higher sound quality audio files. You can get rid of all those
heaps of audio tapes that you are archiving in your office and transfer them onto a
number of CDs and minidisks or archive them on a web site.
Editing software is a convenient tool for digital editing as it includes all the features
and functions that you need to create an audio file.
With editing software you can:
o Record (digitise) the audio file into the computer from an external source
(tape recorder, CD, minidisk etc.).
o Edit the digitised file (cut, paste, normalise, sample, mix, etc.).
o Convert the digitised file into the audio format of your choice.
Here, we’ll explain the process of editing using Cool Edit, although most of the
functions explained can be applied to any other editing software.
Connecting an external audio device to your computer
Recording audio from the external audio device
In order to be able to "grab" audio from your external audio device (this includes
DAT, minidisk, cassette players, microphones etc.), you need to connect the
external device to your computer, or more precisely, to your sound card. If you look
at the back of your computer, you will see the words Line-in or Mic-in or icons like
for Line-in
for Line-out
for Mic-in
These are inputs on your sound card.
To connect the device to your sound card, follow this logic:
As you want to import a sound FROM your external device INTO your computer, you
will put one end of an audio lead in the Line-out socket for example on your
minidisk, and the other end into the Line-in socket of your sound card.
Recording audio from the computer on to the external device
When you want to remove your digitised audio from your computer and store it on a
CD-ROM, minidisk or memory stick, you need to use the reverse process to the one
outlined above:
As you want to export sound FROM your computer INTO the audio device (minidisk
for example), you will plug one end of an audio lead into the Line-out socket of your
sound card and the other end into the Line-in socket on your minidisk.
audio device
on Some audio devices don't have audio output and can't
be used to send audio to a computer. These devices
usually have built in speakers. If you are not certain
whether a device supports audio output, check your user
Also, some minidisks don’t have a Line-out socket. In
that case, use the headphones socket - this is actually
logical as the sound is exported FROM the minidisk
INTO your headphones.
the Sometimes sound card inputs are marked incorrectly
and the (join to next line) Line-in icon can point to the
Line-out socket. If you can’t hear the sound, try plugging
the audio lead in different sockets on the sound card. If
you still can’t hear the sound, it might be a problem with
the Volume control settings - more about that in
"Specifying recording source".
Specifying the recording source
We will assume here that your external sound source is connected to your computer.
If this is not the case, go back to “Getting the audio in…” section and follow the
Now, click twice on the speaker icon in the lower right corner as circled in the picture
The window pictured below will pop up.
This panel controls only your play levels. You can use it to "tell" to your sound card
from where to play the sound. It has faders similar to that on a real sound desk.
When you open the sound card, you do not always see all the channels of the
Volume Control such as CD Audio, Wave, Microphone, etc. If you do not see them,
you have to choose Options and Properties and there you can select all the lines
you would like to have included in the mixing desk of your sound card.
To see the panel for the recording control, you need to click on Options, then on
Properties and select Recording. A panel with the recording control will show on
your screen. Select the audio source - where you want to import your audio from, for
example Line-in for external audio device or Mike if you are recording from a
In this picture, the sound will be recorded from an external source, hence 'Line' is
selected. It is best to keep this recording control desk open, as you may need it for
regulating your live recording levels when you do start recording.
Dedicated folder
It is recommended that you create a dedicated folder for your digitised audio.
To create a New Folder double click on My Computer and select which drive you
wish to store your audio on, for example hard disk drive (C:).
Double click on C: click once on File, scroll to New and click on Folder. Your new
folder will now appear with a temporary name. Re-name your folder into something
logical such as "My Audio" for example. Remember to save all your audio files in this
Can’t hear the sound
Check if the "Mute" or "Mute All" tick box in the
Volume Control window is ticked. If yes, untick it and
you should hear the sound.
If you still can’t hear anything, try other sound card
inputs at the back of your computer.
Recording settings
Now open a new file in Cool Edit. To do this, click on File and select New. A new
window appears prompting you to choose the settings for digitising your audio.
These settings will influence the quality and the size of your digitised audio.
Bit depth
This is another setting that influences the quality of your file. It describes the number
of bits to use for each sample on each channel. The default bit depth in editing
software and encoders is 16 bit.
Sample rate
A sample is simply a snapshot of a sound at a given point in time. The sampling rate
is a measurement of how many snapshots are taken. The best example is a movie
camera that takes 24 still photographs per second. When they are played back at a
certain speed in the cinema, the result is almost like real life. Each frame of film is a
sample; 24 frames per second is a sampling rate. If you reduce the number of
frames per second, the film would look like a sequence of still images. For sound,
this would mean that the gaps between sequences would be artificially filled with
The list below illustrates how sample rate influences audio quality:
8,000 Hz
Telephone Quality
11,025 Hz
Poor AM Radio Quality
16,000 Hz
Reasonable compromise between 11 KHz and 22 KHz
22,050 Hz
Near FM Radio Quality
32,075 Hz
Better than FM Radio Quality (Some boards support 32,000 instead)
44,100 Hz
CD Quality
48,000 Hz
DAT Quality
The default quality usable for Cool Edit work is 44,100 Hz.
You can choose whether you want to record your sound through one (mono) or two
(stereo) channels.
Stereo means that each channel is recording separate sounds and only when they
play simultaneously do they make a meaningful audio sequence. This is why files
recorded in stereo are twice as large as the sounds recorded in mono. Use stereo
for the recording of music.
Mono channel means that the recording is being done through one channel only. It is
acceptable for speech recordings by microphone.
When you convert stereo to mono, the software normally gives you an option of
mixing the two channels into one. If you manually delete one of the channels, you
will end up with the sequence of sounds that were captured on that channel. The
information from the other channel will be lost.
When you convert from mono to stereo, you will only get an artificial stereo effect
because the second channel is just a copy of the mono channel you started with.
Wave forms
Before we start recording – one more tip: to see what your audio looks like as it's
being recorded, click on Options, Settings and then select Live update during
When you start recording you will see the sound wave in the Cool Edit window.
When you hear a sound, you actually register changes in the air pressure around
your eardrum. These vibrations are then picked up by your ears and converted to
electrical signals that your brain interprets as a sound. If we were to graph the air
pressure at your eardrum as a function of time while you were listening to a short
sound, it might look like a wave form. That is the reason why sound files recorded in
Cool Edit are shown in a wave form.
By listening and looking at your wave carefully you will learn a lot about how the
sound is represented visually. Have a look at these examples:
Mono Waveform. Wide wave form? Distorted.
Stereo Waveform. Narrow wave form? Too quiet.
First notice that mono waves consist of only one wave while stereo waves have two
bands of waves. When a recording is too loud and therefore distorted, the top and
the bottom edges of the sound wave are unnaturally flat, as if they were cut with
The preceding images of sound waves are examples of what yours should NOT look
Digitising your audio: Recording
Before you actually start recording, you need to check your recording levels to make
sure that your audio is loud enough but not too loud.
Play your sound. To monitor the volume click on Options and then on Monitor
Record Level. It will activate the VU meter - a unit that visually shows the volume
level as your sound is playing. The red line (one if you are recording in mono and
two if you are in stereo) moves from left to right following the intensity of the sound.
Here you are recording at 12db.
VU meter
It is recommended that you record at as high a level as possible without clipping.
Clipping is what happens when your recording level is too loud, which distorts your
sound. You should try to keep your recording level between -12 and -3.
Note that you cannot control the recording level from the Cool Edit interface. You
need to go to the Recording Control mixing desk of your sound card and slide the
fader up or down to adjust the recording volume. You can also adjust the recording
level by adjusting the volume on the external audio device.
You are now ready to start recording.
Use the control buttons in the left hand side at the bottom of the screen. They
operate in the same way as on any other sound device.
Just click on the Record button (red dot). You will notice that the red dot becomes a
black square. Click on it when you want to stop recording. You will see your
recording represented on the screen by a wave form.
You have just completed the first recording exercise!
This section introduces some of the basic editing functions of Cool Edit.
You probably want to listen to what you have recorded. You need speakers or
headphones connected to the Speakers port in the back of your computer (or to the
Line out if you do not have a specific Speakers port).
You also need to set up your sound card to be able to listen to your recorded piece.
Open your sound card by double-clicking the speaker icon at the bottom right hand
corner of the screen and the Volume Control desk below will appear.
If you want to hear what you have recorded you need to slide up the fader of the
Wave channel. To control the volume of your speakers or headphones slide up the
channel called Volume Control.
Now click on Play in the control buttons of Cool Edit Pro and enjoy your first digital
While listening to a wave, you will notice a yellow line that moves across your
screen. That is the cursor – it’s very important; it is used to mark your editing points.
Undo option
Before you start editing it is very important that you have activated the option Undo.
To activate this option go to the Edit menu and select Enable Undo.
Undo means that every time you edit something, if you are not happy with the result
you can delete your last action. You can undo your actions up to 80 times.
Note that once you have saved your file, you can’t use the Undo function.
Using zoom and timer
It would be very hard to edit a wave of 30 minutes recording when viewed on only
one window – because all the sounds are so close together it’s hard to see where
individual pieces of sound start and end. –That is why we use Zoom – to get a more
detailed picture of the part of the wave around the cursor we want to edit.
Zoom in: Click to stretch the wave. The part of the wave around the cursor
will be shown in more detail. If you want to see other sections of the wave, move
using the green bar, just under the toolbar.
Zoom out: Click to shrink the wave. The wave is going to become smaller
and will fit the screen.
Zoom out full: Click to shrink the whole wave in one screen.
Zoom selection: Click to show the selection fitting in one screen.
The bar at the top of the screen just under the toolbar shows the part of the wave
you are viewing. If the whole bar is green, you are looking at the whole wave. You
can move along the wave when it is zoomed. Point your cursor on the green bar until
it becomes a hand. Hold the left button of the mouse and drag it to move along the
wave to the right and left.
The timer is another useful tool to help you edit.
The timer shows the length of your audio. By default it shows the time in decimal
format - minutes, seconds and milliseconds (mm:ss.dd). You can change the format
in Display Time Format in the View menu.
The time on the left represents the length of the track up until the cursor. The table
on the right shows the beginning, end and total length of the selection (the upper
row) and of the whole wave (bottom row).
You can use the timer as a control to adjust your selection or your programme to a
particular length of time or, to be very precise, when choosing the point where you
start cutting, pasting or whatever editing you want to do.
A. Common editing functions
The main functions you will use for most of your editing are Cut, Copy and Paste.
You will find these under Edit. You can also use buttons of the toolbar at the top of
the screen or shortcut keys.
Deletes selected portion of data and copies Shortcut:
it onto the clipboard.
Copies selected portion of data onto the Shortcut:
Deletes selected portion of data but doesn't Shortcut: Delete
copy it onto the clipboard.
Deletes all data in a window except the Shortcut: Control+T
selected section.
Inserts the contents of the clipboard into a Shortcut:
data window at the current cursor position Control+V
or replaces the current selection.
Mixes the contents of the clipboard with the Shortcut:
current data in a window starting at the Control+M
current cursor position or at the start of
Crossfades the contents of the clipboard Shortcut: Control+F
with the current data in a window starting at
the current cursor position.
Mix and Crossfade are functions used in the Multi-track View of Cool Edit. The use
of Multi-track View is tackled later in this chapter.
Most of the time you can conclude from the shape of the wave where the words or a
music sequence begin and where they end.
Play the wave a few times to become more familiar with the shapes and how they
represent a change in your sound.
As a first step you can erase a portion of your audio. Play the wave and pause just
at the beginning of the section you are planning to delete. Left-click with your mouse
on the point of the wave where you want your selection to begin, hold down and
drag until you reach the end of the section you wish to delete - just as you do it in
any other Windows application. When you release the button, the area you want to
delete is highlighted. To listen and check your selection, click on Play. It will only
play the selected part of the wave.
If you want to be more precise by making the same selection bigger or smaller, you
can do it by right clicking the mouse. If you click the left button you will lose the
selection and will have to make a new mark. You can modify the selection with the
right button and play it as many times as you want until you are sure that the
selection includes exactly and only the part you want to delete.
Now just press the Delete key on your keyboard or click on Edit, scroll to and click
on Delete Selection.
Click on Play to listen. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can always use
The next step will be moving a portion of audio to a desired place in the wave.
Select the section you want to move to another place in your audio. When you are
satisfied with your selection of audio, choose Cut in the Edit menu (or Ctrl+X on
your keyboard). The portion of audio is gone now from your recording but is stored
on the clipboard and can be put somewhere else. You then need to find the exact
point of the wave where you want to insert it.
Once you are sure you have found the point where this section of audio should go,
select Paste in the Edit menu (or press Ctrl+V on your keyboard).
The shape of your selection now appears again on the screen, but in its new
position. Listen to the result and decide if you are happy with it.
Transform functions
Cool Edit allows you to transform the wave in different ways, reducing noise,
amplifying or creating effects with the voice or music you have previously recorded.
This can be very useful if, for example, your recording is too low in volume. You can
also create imaginative effects and echoes for your programmes and jingles.
This manual will not go in too much depth into the possibilities of these options. You
can experiment and learn about it yourself using Cool Edit Help.
The best way to master the use of effects is to try them.
The Amplify option is used to adjust the sound of your waves to a certain level
(lower or higher than your original recording). This tool is quite useful if you want to
make sure that different waves you have recorded are all of the same volume.
Go to the menu Transform and choose Amplitude then the Amplify option.
You will see two options for setting the level of amplification:
o Manually, sliding the fader right and left to choose the desired percentage.
o Using pre-sets, which appear in the right hand side of the screen. You can
choose Boost or Cut, and the level.
Delay Effects
You can have great fun using any of these options - they are really useful when
creating jingles and adverts. Each Delay Effects option has a list of pre-sets.
Experiment with them and you will see for yourself.
Open Delay Effects in the Transform menu and a list is displayed: Chorus, Delay,
Echo, Flanger, Reverb etc.
Sound processing functions
In order to access mixing, cross fading, and other functions of Cool Edit, you need to
either type the F12 key or click on the ‘Switch to Multi-track View’ button in the top
left corner of the Cool Edit window.
Imagine you want to fade out the music at the end of your audio piece. To do that
you use the Volume Envelope, a line shown at the top of each of your waves which
you can move to increase or decrease the volume at a specific point of the wave.
You will understand it better when you try it.
First you choose the following two options from the View menu: Enable Envelope
editing and Show Volume Envelopes. You will see a green line at the top of your
waves. By clicking on this line you create a mark and a hand appears instead of the
cursor. If you drag this point the green line moves as if you were pulling a piece of
thread. This is the graphic form of the volume.
Listen to the piece and you will hear how the volume goes down and up following the
green line. You can create as many marks as you want - they will be shown as white
squared dots - and pull the green line, making your volume going up and down.
The example in the above picture is of fading out at the end of a piece of music.
B. Advanced Editing: Mixing waves using multi-track
Multi-track allows you to mix different pieces of audio (music, speech, sound effects)
to create a final unique recording.
In the picture below is a multi-track with a number of waves, created by different
At the left end of the tools bar, you will find the symbol for the multi-track. This is the
gateway to the multi-track functionality and, once you are there, you have access to
all the wave options. You can also go to the View menu and choose Multi-track
View. To go back to normal view from multi-track go to Edit Wave View in the View
A new window now appears on your screen.
It shows four different sections; each of these is a different track. You can work with
up to 64 different tracks in this window, although most of the time you won’t use
more than four.
Inserting waves
There are several few ways of inserting tracks in the multi-track:
o Open the waves you are going to use, change to multi-track option, go to menu
Insert. There you will find a list of your open files. Just click on each one of them.
o In the menu Insert is also the option Waveforms list. A window with the list of
the open waves will appear. Choose those you want and press Insert in the
same window. You can also select the wave you want to insert and drag it to the
track where you want it to be. This allows you to place it exactly where you want
along the tracks.
o If the waves to be inserted are not open yet, you can select the option Wave
from file... from the menu Insert and a window will pop up prompting you to find
the file on your computer.
o If you right-click the mouse in any track you also find the menu Insert with the
above options.
As an example, insert two sound files you have created in the multi-track. Click on
Play and you will hear both tracks playing together. You will notice that it is difficult
to hear one sound from another as both recordings have the same volume. One
needs to be lowered.
Track controls
To the left of each track you will see some boxes and controls:
o The green box ("m") when selected mutes this track only,
which means you hear the other tracks when you play them.
o The yellow box ("s") when selected plays only this track.
o The red box ("●") allows only this track to be recorded on to.
o The box with the letter V is used to adjust the volume of the track. You can either
double click or click with the right button or just drag the mouse up or down
depending what you want to do with the volume. This will modify the volume in
the whole track.
Editing in multi-track
You can also edit while you are working with more than one wave at the same time.
The following are some of the most common options you may need for your first
steps on editing in multi-track.
Selecting and moving wave forms
You can select one wave just by clicking on it. You will notice it is selected because
it appears highlighted. If you want to select more than one at the same time, you can
do it by clicking while holding Ctrl in your keyboard. All the waves you select are
shown highlighted. Any action you do affects only the selected wave forms.
To move the wave forms, you just have to right-click the mouse and drag the wave
right or left. You can also move the wave from one track to another. Notice that if
you double click on a wave, it takes you to the Waveform View so you can edit
whatever you want in that particular wave and go back to the multi-track easily and
Cut and splice
You can also operate without moving from the multi-track, working with one or more
waves at the same time. You can:
Cut: As we learned in the basic editing section, you can make a selection in a wave
and choose Cut from the Edit menu.
Splice: You can make two out of one wave by splicing it at the point you want. Just
put the cursor at the exact point where you want to separate the wave and select
Splice from the Edit menu or the icon with the scissors in the toolbar. You can now
move the new separated waves independently.
Copying wave blocks
You can repeat one wave in your multi-track as many times as you want with the
option Loop duplicate from the Edit menu. When you select the Loop duplicate
option, Cool Edit asks you how many times you want that wave repeated and if you
want any gap in between the repetitions.
Saving a session
Multi-track is not a file – it is a sort of platform that allows you to mix different sounds
(which can have different formats – wav, mp3, rm).
Your session is not a file in an audio format, but a file with an ‘.ses’ extension. If you
have modified or created new waves when working in a session, you need to save
them separately and also save the session as a whole.
If you want to open a session, you need to be in the multi-track view of Cool Edit and
then choose Open Session from the File menu.
Mixing down
If you have finished your session and are sure that you do not want to modify
anything else, you should convert the session into one single audio file (represented
with one wave).
To convert your session to a single wave, you select the option Mix down from the
Edit menu or just click the icon. The programme will ask you if you want to mix all
the waves or just a selection of them.
Mixing down does not make the session disappear. You can also save the session
to change parts of it later.
Saving your work
Cool Edit will by default save your edit as a .wav format, which is high in quality but
is extremely big in size, which reduces its usability on the Net.
Newer versions of Cool Edit allow you to save your edits in different formats,
including the two most popular ones – MP3 and Real Audio. Go to Save As and
choose the format.
You have a digital audio file in your computer!
You might want to transfer it to an external device. For a reminder of how to do this,
go to “Getting audio in”.
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