Changing Audio Levels in the Viewer

You can control the audio levels and placement of sound (pan) in a clip in the Viewer using the sliders at the top of the Audio tab, the number fields next to the sliders, or the overlays in the middle of the waveform display area. The detail displayed in the audio tabs of the Viewer is good for modifying keyframes recorded using the Audio Mixer.

Figure. Audio tab of the Viewer showing the audio controls, an audio level overlay, and an audio waveform.

How these controls affect the level of your clip depends on whether or not you’ve set keyframes for either audio level or pan.

Whether or not the audio item in the Viewer is a stereo pair also affects how audio level and pan are set. Clips can have up to 24 tracks of audio, and each item can be mono or part of a stereo pair.

As you adjust the audio level and pan of clips in Final Cut Pro, your changes can be played back immediately. Final Cut Pro mixes the audio levels in real time, so you don’t need to render your audio as long as your computer can handle the number of tracks you’re working on. Real-time audio processing is covered in more detail in Real-Time Audio Mixing in Final Cut Pro.

Tip: Using effects like cross fades and filters requires processing power, which reduces the total number of tracks you can mix in real time. If you exceed the number of tracks your computer can handle, you’ll need to render your tracks. Audio is usually rendered much faster than video, however, so it shouldn’t take too long.

When you edit a new clip into a sequence, its level is set to 0 decibels (dB) by default. You can change the level to be any value you like, up to +12 dB. You can use three controls to adjust the audio level of a clip. Each of these controls is mirrored by the other controls as you make adjustments. If no keyframes are set in the clip in the Viewer, using these controls adjusts the level of the entire clip.

To adjust the audio level using the Level slider
  • Drag the Level slider to the left or right.

    Figure. Level slider in the Audio tab of the Viewer.
To adjust the audio level by entering a numeric value
  1. Enter a value in the Level field.

    To enter a negative value, type a minus sign (-) and the number.

    Figure. Level field in the Audio tab of the Viewer.
  2. Press the Return key to apply this value to your clip.

To adjust the audio level by dragging the audio level overlay
  1. Place the pointer over the audio level overlay of your clip in the waveform display area of the Viewer (the overlay looks like a pink line, or—for stereo items—two pink lines).

    The pointer turns into an Adjust Line Segment pointer.

    Figure. Adjust Line Segment pointer positioned over the audio level overlay in the Audio tab of the Viewer.
  2. Drag the overlay up or down to change the level of the clip.

    As you drag, a box displays the new audio level.

    Tip: Hold down the Command key while you drag to “gear down” the speed at which the level is adjusted.

To adjust the audio level by using the Modify menu
  1. Select one or more clips in the Timeline, or place the Canvas or Timeline playhead over the clip whose audio level you want to modify.

  2. Choose Modify > Audio, then choose one of the Gain items from the submenu to indicate how much you want to modify the level.

    The audio level of your clip is increased or decreased from its current value by the increment you choose. If you selected multiple clips, all clips are modified relative to their current values.

To adjust the audio level by using keyboard shortcuts
  1. Select one or more clips in the Timeline, or place the Canvas or Timeline playhead over the clip whose audio level you want to modify.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To raise the level by 1 dB: Press Control–Equal Sign (=).
    • To raise the level by 3 dB: Press Control–Right Bracket (]).
    • To lower the level by 3 dB: Press Control–Left Bracket ([).
    • To lower the level by 1 dB: Press Control-Hyphen (-).

    The audio level of your clip is increased or decreased from its current value by the increment of the keyboard shortcut you used. If you selected multiple clips, all clips are modified relative to their current values.