Working with Tracks, Busses, and Submixes in the Timeline

The Timeline is arranged sets of horizontal rows—tracks, busses, and submixes. You add audio to tracks in your project, use busses to create effect sends, and route audio to physical output channels using submixes.

The tracks in a project appear in the upper part of the Timeline. Busses appear below tracks, and submixes appear below busses. The Master bus appears below submixes. The Master bus represents the final mix that will be heard from physical output jacks. It has a single volume control and no panners or meters. You can apply effects to the Master bus.

A separator between each set of Timeline rows helps visually distinguish them, and disclosure triangles on each separator let you show or hide the different sets. Tracks, busses, and submixes in the Timeline correspond to channel strips in the Mixer. When you add a track, bus, or submix, adjust its controls, or add effects, the same changes appear in the corresponding channel strip when you open the Mixer.

Tracks, busses, and submixes are described in greater detail in Tracks, Busses, Submixes, and the Master Bus.

Adding Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

There are several ways to add tracks, busses, and submixes.

To add a track
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Multitrack > Add Track (or press Command-T).

  • Control-click an open area of the Timeline, then choose Add Track from the shortcut menu.

  • Control-click a track, then choose either Add Track Above or Add Track Below from the shortcut menu.

To add a bus
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Multitrack > Add Bus.

  • Control-click a bus, then choose either Insert Bus Before or Insert Bus After from the shortcut menu.

To add a submix
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Multitrack > Add Submix.

  • Control-click a submix, then choose either Insert Submix Before or Insert Submix After from the shortcut menu.

Selecting Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

You can select a track, bus, or submix in order to move, copy, or remove it, and you can also select tracks, busses, and submixes to export. The headers of selected tracks, busses, and submixes appear darker in the Timeline. You can also select multiple tracks, busses, or submixes in the Timeline.

To select a track, bus, or submix
Do one of the following:
  • Click in the header for the track, bus, or submix.

  • Click anywhere in the row for the track, bus, or submix in the Timeline.

  • Press Control–Up Arrow or Control–Down Arrow.

    Figure. Track header selected.
To select adjacent tracks, busses, or submixes
Do one of the following:
  • Shift-click in the header of each track, bus, or submix.

  • Press Shift-Control-Up Arrow or Shift-Control-Down Arrow.

You can select multiple tracks, busses, or submixes in the Timeline.

To select nonadjacent tracks, busses, or submixes
  • Command-click in the header of each track, bus, or submix.

Grouping Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

You can create groups of tracks, groups of busses, and groups of submixes. Groups provide a way to easily select and make changes (such as volume, mute, solo, and lock adjustments) to many tracks, busses, or submixes at once. When Mixer objects are grouped, selecting one item in the group selects all items in that group.

Note: It is not possible to group Mixer objects from different categories. For example, you cannot group tracks with busses or tracks with submixes.

To group tracks, busses, or submixes
  1. Confirm that grouping is enabled by choosing Multitrack > Groups Enabled.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select any combination of tracks.

    • Select any combination of busses.

    • Select any combination of submixes.

  3. Choose Multitrack > Group Tracks (or press Command-G).

    The selected items are grouped.

Applying Changes to Selected Groups

When multiple tracks, busses, or submixes are selected (whether they are officially grouped or not), you can apply the following changes to all the selected items at once.

Changes in the Track Header or the Shortcut Menu
  • Toggling the envelopes

  • Volume

  • Effect bypass

  • Mute

  • Solo

  • Setting track color

  • Track locking

  • Removing a track

  • Switching between stereo/surround panner

Changes in the Timeline
  • Blade tool

  • Creating a Timeslice selection

  • Marquee-selecting multiple clips with the Selection tool

Managing Track Selections with the Tracks Tab

The Soundtrack Pro Tracks tab is a convenient tool for selecting and grouping tracks, busses, and submixes. The Tracks tab consists of three sections: the Mixer Objects outline, the Groups outline, and a channel strip for the currently selected item.

Figure. Tracks tab.

Mixer Objects Outline

The upper left of the Tracks tab displays an outline view of the Timeline, including all tracks, busses, and submixes. Use this outline to quickly manage, select, and group Mixer objects (track, bus, or submix) without having to view the entire Timeline.

To select an individual Mixer object (track, bus, or submix) in the Tracks tab
  • Click the track, bus, or submix in the Mixer Objects outline.

You can also use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate through individual Mixer objects.

To select adjacent Mixer objects in the Tracks tab
  • Shift-click the adjacent tracks, busses, or submixes in the Mixer Objects outline.

To select nonadjacent tracks, busses, or submixes
  • Command-click the nonadjacent tracks, busses, or submixes in the Mixer Objects outline.

Groups Outline

The Groups outline displays an outline view of any grouped tracks, busses, or submixes in the project. You can use the Groups outline to group Mixer objects, disable or enable groups, rename groups, delete groups, and delete items from groups.

To group tracks, busses, or submixes in the Groups outline
  1. Confirm that grouping is enabled by choosing Multitrack > Groups Enabled.

  2. In the Mixer Objects outline, do one of the following:

  3. Choose Multitrack > Group Tracks (or press Command-G).

    The selected items are grouped and the new group appears in the Groups outline.

    Figure. Tracks tab showing groups.
To enable or disable groups in the Groups outline
  • Click the checkbox next to the group in the Groups outline to enable or disable it.

    Note: Three standard groups (All Tracks, All Busses, and All Submixes) are disabled by default.

To rename a group in the Groups outline
  1. Double-click the name.

  2. Enter the new name.

To delete a group or remove an item from a group
  1. Select the group or item in the Groups outline.

  2. Press Delete.

Channel Strip

The right side of the Tracks tab displays a single channel strip for the currently selected track, bus, or submix. (This channel strip is identical to the corresponding channel strip in the Mixer in every way, including all controls and current settings.) It is a quick way to access the mixing controls for a particular Mixer object.

Figure. Channel strip in the Tracks tab.

Note: The channel strip is displayed only if a single track, bus, or submix is selected.

For more information about channel strips, see Using the Mixer.

Moving and Copying Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

As you work on your project, you may want to rearrange tracks, busses, and submixes. You can move and copy them to change their vertical arrangement in the track, bus, or submix section of the Timeline. You cannot move one to the area for another (as indicated by the rows labeled “Tracks,” “Busses,” “Submixes,” and “Master” in the Timeline).

You can only move or copy one track, bus, or submix at a time.

To move a track, bus, or submix
  • Drag the track, bus, or submix header up or down to a new vertical position.

    A light blue horizontal line in the header area indicates the place the track, bus, or submix is moved to when you release the mouse button.

To copy a track, bus, or submix
  • Option-click in the header for the track, bus, or submix, then drag it up or down.

    A copy of the track, bus, or submix appears when you release the mouse button.

Renaming Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

By default, tracks are numbered when created and take the name of the first audio clip you add to them. Busses and submixes are numbered starting from 1 (Bus 1, Submix 1, and so on). You can rename a track, bus, or submix and use the names to distinguish the type of audio it contains (for example, dialogue, voiceovers, music, or sound effects), its part in the overall project, or to identify it in some other way.

To rename a track, bus, or submix
  • Click the name field in the header for the track, bus, or submix and type a new name.

    Note: You cannot rename the Master bus.

Changing a Track, Bus, or Submix Icon

You can choose a new icon from the icon grid or add your own image to the grid.

To change the icon for a track, bus, or submix
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click the icon, then select a new icon from the icon grid that appears.

  • Drag a graphics file from the Finder to the icon.

About the Track Controls

Tracks, busses, and submixes have headers, located along the left side of the Timeline.

Each header contains various controls that perform the following functions:

Adjusting Volume

The volume slider controls the volume (the loudness relative to other tracks) of the track, bus, or submix.

To adjust the volume level of a track, bus, or submix
  • Drag the volume slider left or right.

    Figure. Track header displaying track volume slider.

    The range is -96 dB to +6 dB, with the default at 0 dB. Double-clicking the slider resets it to the 0 dB position.

Adjusting Pan Position

Tracks and busses also include panning controls. The stereo pan slider controls the stereo pan position (the left-to-right placement in the stereo field) of the track. The surround panner controls the surround pan position, placing sounds in a multidimensional space defined by 5.1-surround speaker systems.

To adjust the pan position of a track or bus
Do one of the following:
  • In stereo mode, drag the pan slider left or right.

    Figure. Track header showing pan slider.

    The range is -100 (full left) to +100 (full right), with the default at 0 (center position). Double-clicking the slider resets it to the center position.

  • In surround mode, drag anywhere inside the black circle to position the puck.

    Figure. Track header showing surround panner.

For finer panning adjustments and other surround controls, double-click the surround panner to open the Surround Panner HUD.

For more information about using surround panners, see Using Surround Panners to Create a Surround Mix. For more information about the Surround Panner HUD, see The Surround Panner HUD.

Muting and Soloing Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

The Mute button mutes (silences) the track, bus, or submix. You can mute multiple tracks, busses, and submixes, which allows you to hear only the remaining, unmuted ones. Muting lets you compare the sound of the project using different combinations of tracks, busses, and submixes, and hear the result of changes you make to them.

The Solo button solos the track, bus, or submix, muting all others. Soloing a track, bus, or submix lets you quickly isolate it from the rest of the project, so you can adjust the sound of the soloed track, bus, or submix and make changes.

Soundtrack Pro supports multiple solo and exclusive solo. Clicking the Solo button for multiple tracks, busses, or submixes solos them and mutes all others. When you exclusively solo a track, bus, or submix, all others are muted, regardless of whether they are soloed.

To mute a track, bus, or submix
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Multitrack > Mute Selected Track (or press T).

  • Click the Mute button.

    Repeat the same operation to unmute the track, bus, or submix.

    Muted tracks, busses, and submixes appear darker in the Timeline and their clips appear translucent, making it easy to identify which tracks are currently audible.

    Figure. Track header showing Mute button.
    Figure. Multitrack Timeline window showing a muted track.
To solo a track, bus, or submix (multiple solo)
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Multitrack > Solo Selected Track (or press Y).

  • Click the Solo button.

    Repeat the operation to unsolo the track, bus, or submix.

    Figure. Track header showing Solo button.
    Figure. Multitrack Timeline window showing a soloed track.
To exclusively solo a track, bus, or submix
  • Option-click the Solo button. Click the Solo button again to unsolo the track, bus, or submix.

    When you solo tracks, busses, or submixes, the ones not soloed appear darker in the Timeline, and their clips appear translucent.

Adding Effects to a Track, Bus, or Submix

You can use the Effects tab to add effects. The Effects tab also displays any effects currently assigned to the track, bus, or submix.

To add effects to a track, bus, or submix
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Control-click the header for the track, bus, or submix, then choose Show Track, Bus, or Submix Effects from the shortcut menu.

      This activates the Effects tab.

    • Click the header for the track, bus, or submix to select it. If it is not already active, click the Effects tab to activate it.

  2. Select a category in the Category list to display the effects for that category in the Effect list.

    Figure. Category selection in the Effects tab.
  3. In the Effect list, do one of the following:

    • Double-click the effect you want to add.

    • Select the effect name, then click the Add Effect button.

    • Drag the effect to the Effect Parameters area.

      Figure. Category selected in the Effects tab.

    The effect’s advanced settings window appears, and the effect name appears in the Effect Parameters area with its checkbox selected.

For detailed information about adding and adjusting effects, see Working with Audio Effects.

Showing and Hiding Track, Bus, and Submix Envelopes

Clicking the automation disclosure triangle for a track or bus shows the volume and pan envelopes, which you can use to automate changes to pan position and volume level over the course of the project. Clicking the triangle for a submix shows the submix’s volume envelope. The envelopes appear in the Timeline below the track, bus, or submix.

You can also add envelopes for effect parameters, which appear below the other envelopes. For information on adding envelopes for effect parameters, see Working with Audio Effects.

Note: If you automate controls or effects using envelopes, you hear the results whether or not the envelopes are visible.

To show or hide the envelopes for a track, bus, or submix
Do one of the following:
  • Click the envelopes disclosure triangle in the header for a track, bus, or submix. Click the disclosure triangle again to hide the envelopes.

  • Press E to show envelopes for any selected tracks. Press E again to hide the envelopes.

    Figure. Track header showing envelopes disclosure triangle.
    Figure. Multitrack Timeline Editor showing envelopes.

For information on automating changes to volume, pan, and other settings, see Working with Automation.

Changing Track Time Format

By default, tracks use the same time format as the project (Time-based or Beats-based). You can change the time format of a track, which changes the behavior of tagged clips when you change the project tempo.

When the track time format is Time-based, clips remain at the same time position (the same second or frame) when you change the project tempo. When the track time format is Beats-based, clips remain at the same beat position (the same measure, beat, and beat division) when you change the project tempo.

When you set a track to Beats-based time format, a metronome appears in the corner of the track icon.

To change a track’s time format
  1. Select the track.

  2. Choose Multitrack > Track Time Base, then choose a format from the submenu.

Removing Tracks, Busses, and Submixes

You can remove a track, bus, or submix if you decide you no longer want it in a project.

To remove a track, bus, or submix
Do one of the following:
  • Select the track, bus, or submix, then choose Multitrack > Remove [item] (or press Command-Shift-T).

  • Control-click the track, bus, or submix, then choose Remove [item] from the shortcut menu.

The [item] changes depending on whether a track, bus, or submix is selected.