Are you looking to improve the audio of your videos? This post will help you make any necessary adjustments and show how to improve audio on video in FCPX. Apple's FCPX has become a video editing standard in the last few years due to its ease of use and practicality. Unfortunately, if your videos are lacking good audio, they can quickly drop that professional edge. While shooting proper quality sound at the source is essential, you often may not have had other options and ended up with poor-sounding video footage. Regardless of how you acquired the audio, several ways can be used to improve your video's audio. In this article, I will show you how to improve audio on video clips in FCPX, and what tools to use to achieve the best results.
Tool 1: Equalizer
This tool is a good way to cut out any unwanted and unpleasant frequencies that may contribute to your audio track’s muddiness. It's especially useful if you're working with music. Let me explain...
EQ stands for equalization, and it allows you to adjust certain frequencies in order to boost or cut them. We do this by adjusting the 'gain' of the frequencies.
For example, if there is too much low-end in your mix, causing your audio to sound muddy, you can cut this by simply dragging down the bottom end a few dB lower. It will boost the top end and give you a much cleaner sounding track.
Tool 2: Compressor
Compression can be used in a number of ways, but I think the easiest way to describe its effect is by comparing it with an audio limiter.
A compressor will reduce peaks in any given audio signal, thus decreasing the overall dynamic range of it... much like a limiter does. This has the effect of making loud sounds quieter and quiet sounds louder. However, there's a bit more to it than that...
The most useful feature of a compressor is its ability to detect changes in volume and adjust the level accordingly automatically. This allows you to set specific thresholds for your audio, meaning that if your sound hits above or below these levels, it will automatically be adjusted according to what you've selected. So, let's say you have the threshold set at -6dB. Any audio playing above this level will be brought down in volume, so it remains below this level. The best way to use a compressor is to set the threshold somewhere around the average volume level of your audio track and then adjust the amount of compression you want from there. However, if you have a voiceover with a lot of noise, you should be careful with the compressor since it could bring even more noise to your recording by lifting the quieter noise level over your voice track.
Tool 3: Noise Gate
A noise gate is a handy tool to have in your arsenal. Essentially, it works oppositely to a compressor. Rather than reducing the dynamic range of your sound, it does the exact opposite and increases it by cutting out any audio below a set threshold. This means that with careful settings, you will be able to cut out ambient background noise from your audio track without affecting the main elements.
So how do we make use of this? Well, let's say you have a noisy area where there is constant background noise. You could set the threshold so that when your subject isn't talking or making any form of noise, all background noise is automatically cut out. When your subject speaks, the sound coming from them will be heard. However, to make these cut out’s as smooth as possible, I wouldn’t recommend choosing extreme reduction levels. Something between -5 dB to -20dB could be the best option. Also, it is worth adjusting “attack” and “release” time to make these cut-outs even smoother.
Tool 4: Limiter
A limiter works much the same way as a compressor, but rather than bringing down loud sounds, it raises quiet sounds and has the effect of maximizing volume. This is useful if you happen to have a very quiet audio track and want to boost it up.
If you have an audio file that doesn't need significant changes or edits, this could be the best way to go. It's also useful if you are working with a video where there isn’t much scope for changing the volume of your sound, as it can bring up the volume of your whole track.
To use a limiter, you will need to adjust the threshold according to your audio levels - anything playing above this level will be brought up in volume. In contrast, anything below it won't be affected (or minimally affected). The amount of control you have here depends on whether your sound was recorded at different levels or not, but it can be a useful way to get the sound exactly how you want it.
Tool 5: DeEsser
A DeEsser is very similar to a compressor, but rather than controlling your average volume; it takes control of any frequencies that are too high. That means that your 'ess' sounds (S' and T's) will be brought down in volume as well as anything else which is too high pitched.
As with the other tools mentioned in this article, it's essential to work the threshold and ratio settings (if you want your S' sounds brought down a lot, for example, you might need to choose a high ratio) according to the sound of your audio track. It's also worth noting that a Deesser works better on audio tracks that were recorded with similar levels and frequencies, so if you are working with, say, someone talking over some music, it might not work as well.
In conclusion, these are the five tools you can use to improve your audio when working in FCPX. What is best for you will depend on your audio track and what you want to achieve, so a lot of trial and error might be needed. However, if you make sure that whatever improvement process you choose doesn't affect the overall volume too much, you should be able to get the results you are looking for.
I hope this was helpful!