About audio mixing

Mixing audio involves adjusting volume levels so that they maintain a good range within each clip, and then adjusting them in proportion to other clips used in the movie. For example, you might first adjust the volume of a narration clip so that there is little variance between its softest and loudest sections; then raise the narration’s overall volume so that it is clearly audible over background sounds or music included in other clips.

In Premiere Elements, volume changes are measured in decibels. A level of 0.0 dB is the original volume (not silence). Changing the level to a negative number reduces the volume, and changing the level to a positive number increases the volume.

To control a clip’s volume, you can use the Volume graph—the yellow line running horizontally across the audio track of each clip (sometimes referred to as the volume rubberband)—or the Audio Mixer. You can use the Audio Meters window to view the overall audio volume for your project.

Consider the following guidelines when adjusting volume levels:

  • If you combine particularly loud audio clips on multiple tracks, clipping (a staccato distortion) may occur. To avoid clipping, reduce volume levels.

  • If you need to adjust the volume separately in different parts of a clip (for example, one person’s voice is faint, while later another’s is too loud), you can use keyframes to vary the volume throughout the clip.

  • If the original level of a clip is much too high or low, you can change the input level. However, adjusting the input level will not remove any distortion that may have resulted from recording the clip too high. In those cases, it is best to re-record the clip.

Adjust volume and mix audio in the Audio Mixer

Use the Audio Mixer to adjust audio balance and volume for different tracks in your project. You can adjust the balance and level of audio contained within your video clips, and within soundtrack and narration audio. For example, you may want to increase the volume of the narration and decrease the volume of the soundtrack at different points for emphasis or so that quiet voices can be heard above the music.

You can adjust settings while listening to audio tracks and viewing video tracks. Each track in the Audio Mixer corresponds to an audio track in the Expert view timeline, and is named accordingly. As you make adjustments, keyframes are added to the track. You can specify a default minimum interval for keyframes in the Audio preferences.

Note:

Ideally, you should mix the volume for one track from beginning to end before moving on to the next track. Same for mixing balance.

  1. (Optional) Choose Edit > Preferences > Audio / Adobe Premiere Elements 13 > Preferences > Audio, and set a value between 1 and 2000 milliseconds for Minimum Time Interval Thinning to limit keyframes to intervals larger than that value. If you don’t want to hear audio while you scrub audio, deselect Play Audio While Scrubbing.

  2. In the Expert view timeline, click the Tools panel and select Audio Mixer option or choose Tools > Audio Mixer.

    Note:

    To hide or display tracks, choose Show/Hide Tracks from the Audio Mixer panel menu; then specify which tracks you want displayed.

  3. Drag the current-time indicator to where you want to start mixing audio.
  4. Click Play in the Monitor window and adjust the controls in the Audio mixer to automatically add keyframes to the track:
    • To adjust balance for a track, turn (drag) the Balance control left or right.

    • To increase the volume for a track, drag the Level control up or down.

      note: You can specify the spacing of keyframes in the Audio preferences.

      To mute a track while mixing, click Mute. This option does not mute the track permanently—only while mixing.

SmartMix

Sometimes the background music is loud and the dialogs in a clip are not audible. To ensure that the dialogs are easily heard, the volume of the background music must be lowered. SmartMix enables automatic adjustment of the volume of the background music. For best results, place dialog clips on the Audio 1 track or the Narration track (Foreground tracks) and music on the Soundtrack track (Background tracks). Premiere Elements analyzes clips on all Foreground tracks for dialogs. Keyframes are then smartly/automatically created to lower the volume level to ensure that the dialog in the Foreground track is audible. SmartMix adjustments apply to all audio clips on the Expert view timeline, not just on the selected clip. When you use SmartMix on an audio track, keyframes you applied previously on the Soundtrack are deleted.

Change foreground and background tracks

By default, when you create a track, it is a Foreground track. You can change the track type per your requirement. You can also disable a track to ensure that the track is ignored when you perform a SmartMix.

  1. Select Tools > Smart Mix.
  2. In the Smart Mixer panel, and select one of the following options from the menu below the track name.
    • Foreground

    • Background

    • Disabled

      note: Select the option Disabled to ignore the track when you perform Smart Mix.

Change Smart Mix preferences

To change SmartMix options, select Edit > Preferences > Audio / Adobe Premiere Elements 13 > Preferences > Audio. You can change the following options:

Track Default Criteria

Specify the type of track. The available options are: Foreground, Background, and Disable. When you create a track, by default, it is a Background track.

Merge Pause Of

Specify the threshold, in seconds.

Lower Background

Specify the percentage by which you want the volume to drop.

Normalize Dialog

Normalize the dialogs to ensure that the volume remains constant throughout the duration of the clip.

Adjust volume in the Expert view timeline

You can adjust clip volume directly on an audio track in the Expert view timeline. By dragging the Volume graph up or down, you can, for example, make the volume of a clip match that of its neighbors, or mute it entirely.

Note:

You can also raise and lower volume with keyframes.

  1. To resize an audio track for better visibility, position the pointer between two tracks in the track header area so that the Height Adjustment icon appears, and then drag up or down.
  2. Select Volume in the upper left corner of the clip. Then, select Volume > Clip Volume.
  3. Position the pointer over the Volume graph: the yellow line running horizontally across the audio track of the clip. The pointer changes to the white double‑arrow icon.
  4. Drag up or down to adjust the level uniformly. Drag any existing keyframes to move them.

    As you drag, the decibel level is displayed. A positive number indicates an increase in volume; a negative number indicates a decrease.

Adjust the input level of clips

If the original volume of the clip is too high or low, change the input level, or gain, before adjusting to the output levels. However, if the level of source audio was set too low when it was recorded, increasing the gain amplifies noise. For best results, record audio at a high volume level that is not so high as to cause distortion. Without adjustment, well-recorded audio peaks between 0 dB and -6 dB in the Audio Meters panel. Recording audio above 0-dB results in clipping.

  1. In the Expert view timeline, select the clip. To work with multiple clips, do one of the following:
    • To select non-consecutive clips, Ctrl-click/Cmd-click each clip.

    • To select consecutive clips, click in the Project Assets panel and drag a marquee around the selected clips.

    • To select all the clips, press Ctrl-A/Cmd-A.

  2. Select Clip > Audio Options > Audio Gain.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Click the zero value and type gain value (0 dB equals the clip’s original gain).

    • Click Normalize to automatically boost gain where it’s too quiet or reduce gain where it’s too loud. Premiere Elements displays the amount required to reach maximum gain without clipping.

Mute a clip

  1. Do one of the following in the Expert view timeline:
    • If the clip is linked to video, Alt‑click the audio track of the clip in the Expert view timeline to select just the audio portion.

    • If the clip is not linked to video, click the clip to select it.

  2. Choose Clip > Enable. (When you disable a clip, the check mark disappears next to the option in the clip menu, and the clip name dims in the track.)

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