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Topic: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

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  1. #1

    Question Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    I'm working on my symphony project with GPO4 in SONAR 8.5 Studio. Slow going, but so far so good. However, I'm running into a snag...

    I have a WAV file editor that has a really good VU meter I'm using to check sound levels for adjusting dynamics. What I'm doing is exporting audio from my MIDI file, then playing back the WAV file in my audio editor to measure the dB levels in "problem" spots for the various instruments as they come up. I can export from individual MIDI tracks just fine. What I can't seem to do is just select certain measure ranges for audio export. When I export, the process starts from the very beginning of the piece.

    While I can live with this for now, it's going to get more painful and tedious the deeper I get into my project. If I could isolate the audio exports for the spots I'll be needing to examine (for example, Clarinets from measure 33 to 36, instead of their entire bloody part from beginning to end), it would make my life so much easier. SONAR's help documentation was no help on the matter, so I'm wondering if someone might be able to instruct me on how I can do it, or if SONAR can even do what I'm looking for here.

    Thanks!

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  2. #2

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    Can you not select a range of measures and just export that to audio? It seems I used to do that by mistake when I didn't realize I had measures selected and not the entire piece.

    Just a thought
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  3. #3

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    Steve --

    I have faced this problem before, and it's still there in Sonar X1, so don't feel alone in this.

    What I have found works best for me is to use the Scissor Tool to place a cut at the beginning and endpoints of the audio piece you want to export. Then using cut-and-paste, you can paste the selected clip into a blank audio track and export it. (Be sure to "archive" all other tracks so they won't be included.)

    Also, you should be able to paste that copied clip directly into another audio program without exporting it from Sonar (as long as the audio formats match). Then when you finish making changes to it (if any), you can paste that clip back into the original Sonar track it came from and replace what was there before, if that is what you are doing. (Re-splicing the new clip with the original audio is a snap.) Otherwise, if you are just observing the clip in the other audio program, you can still easily find the precise clip in Sonar if that is where you are making changes.

    Some people advise using the Selection Tool rather than the Scissors Tool, but I tend to "lose" my original selection points in various ways, mostly by accident, so I use the Scissors Tool just to be on the safe side. In my opinion, if the selected endpoints move by even the very slightest amount, you will have a mis-aligned copy of the material. Therefore, I create concrete endpoints by cutting the audio track.

    Others may have some more suggestions. I'm just explaining what I do when this pops up.
    Arvid Hand
    Theory-Comp./Piano
    ASCAP

  4. #4

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    If you select the clip you want, and then you select the measures you want in the timeline, the export will export only that. See the picture:

    Marcelo Colina

  5. #5

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    Well, I just discovered how to do it -- you can select clips and ranges by holding down the Alt key while dragging over the stuff you want to export. Wish I'd seen that part in SONAR's help documentation earlier, because I wouldn't have had to bother you guys.

    Thanks for your responses, and at least SONAR's help stuff is actually useful sometimes.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  6. #6

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    Hi, Steve

    Marce to the rescue! - He's already shown you what to do, and you've discovered it yourself.

    You don't need to hold Alt though - You just sweep through the part of the Time Line that you want. The Time Line is one of the major tools in Sonar, or any recording program. And then you select tracks by holding down Ctrl so that selecting non-continuous tracks is possible. Time Line plus the tracks you've selected - that's what you want.

    Since I have a few years of Sonar use on you, I hope you don't mine me saying that I feel you're making a lot of extra work for yourself that isn't actually beneficial.

    The sound meters in Sonar are perfectly fine, and as accurate and reliable as any you'll find in an external sound editing program. There are several different modes, like one where you see the actual playback level along with peaks at the same time.

    I'm wondering what you mean exactly when you say that you want to "...measure the dB levels in 'problem' spots for the various instruments as they come up..."

    Do you mean you're peaking out? -- As long as your track is not showing the alarm bell red strip at the top of the channel strip, which means you've just peaked out - then you're OK in that area. You don't need to avoid having the meter go in the red, that's more of a "warning" area - you just don't want that clipping signal to pop up. In fact, it's best if your tracks Do go in the red - but just don't peak out.

    If you keep your MIDI tracks within that safe non-clipping area, then you're fine. Once you bounce your tracks to audio, so you're working with audio tracks, then you can fine tune what you're doing - and I guarantee you that you'll find the dynamics are much broader than is practical. You'll need to do a lot of automation on those tracks to keep things in balance - and in working in the audio realm like that, you'll achieve a better balance much more easily than you ever could working strictly in the MIDI realm. If there are moments where something is just suddenly too loud - then it's the volume envelope to your rescue - you dip down the volume with an envelope, and with more control than you can get just in MIDI.

    So I'm saying that all this exporting and analyzing is something you would do well to re-think. All such work can be done all inside Sonar.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Hi, Steve

    Marce to the rescue! - He's already shown you what to do, and you've discovered it yourself.

    You don't need to hold Alt though - You just sweep through the part of the Time Line that you want. The Time Line is one of the major tools in Sonar, or any recording program. And then you select tracks by holding down Ctrl so that selecting non-continuous tracks is possible. Time Line plus the tracks you've selected - that's what you want.

    Since I have a few years of Sonar use on you, I hope you don't mine me saying that I feel you're making a lot of extra work for yourself that isn't actually beneficial.

    The sound meters in Sonar are perfectly fine, and as accurate and reliable as any you'll find in an external sound editing program. There are several different modes, like one where you see the actual playback level along with peaks at the same time.

    I'm wondering what you mean exactly when you say that you want to "...measure the dB levels in 'problem' spots for the various instruments as they come up..."

    Do you mean you're peaking out? -- As long as your track is not showing the alarm bell red strip at the top of the channel strip, which means you've just peaked out - then you're OK in that area. You don't need to avoid having the meter go in the red, that's more of a "warning" area - you just don't want that clipping signal to pop up. In fact, it's best if your tracks Do go in the red - but just don't peak out.

    If you keep your MIDI tracks within that safe non-clipping area, then you're fine. Once you bounce your tracks to audio, so you're working with audio tracks, then you can fine tune what you're doing - and I guarantee you that you'll find the dynamics are much broader than is practical. You'll need to do a lot of automation on those tracks to keep things in balance - and in working in the audio realm like that, you'll achieve a better balance much more easily than you ever could working strictly in the MIDI realm. If there are moments where something is just suddenly too loud - then it's the volume envelope to your rescue - you dip down the volume with an envelope, and with more control than you can get just in MIDI.

    So I'm saying that all this exporting and analyzing is something you would do well to re-think. All such work can be done all inside Sonar.

    Randy
    Hi Randy,

    The reason for my inquiry relates to the methodology I developed for calibrating the MIDI volume controller values that correspond to the score dynamic markings in my virtual orchestra. (This was the subject of the tute I entered in the contest.)

    I'm using volume controller value tables I compiled with that methodology. While the numbers are working out quite well, I can't go by them strictly in all cases, so I do have to make some adjustments as needed. What I mean by "trouble spots" are places where instruments are sounding softer or louder than I'd expect. By bouncing audio, I can check the dB levels against my calibration reference values, then make any necessary adjusments to CC7, which is the controller I'm using to supplement CC1 (for the sustain instruments) and key velocity (for the non-sustain ones) for achieving what I feel are at least fairly accurate dynamic ranges and instrument balances.

    I realize this may seem like over-engineering (which I tend to excel at, but hey, I'm part German ). However, my theory is that if I can handle as much as possible on the MIDI side, it should minimize the amount of volume tweaking I would need to do on the audio mixing side. I had just a nightmare experience with that when I rendered my symphony project using GPO2 last year. Not that it had anything to do with GPO2 itself, but more with me not knowing what the heck I was doing. The approach I'm taking now is way better, so it's just the occasional sound level checks that keep the fussy, detail oriented side of me happy when I find something I'm not quite satisfied with.

    As to the VU meter I'm using, it's built into a nifty little sound editor called Cool Edit. I've been using it since the early '90s, and while the version I have is about 15 years old, I still find that Cool Edit comes in handy for certain things. The meter itself is horizontal and runs the entire length of the window, with a detailed numerical scale going from -60 dB to 0 dB, so it's perfect for the kind of precision work I like to do. Unfortunately, SONAR's sound meters aren't precise enough for my purposes, so that's why I don't mind going to Cool Edit with bounced audio when I run into dynamic level problems. (Wish I could do things more by ear, but that's really a self-confidence issue on my part. Also, it doesn't help that I've been dealing with tinnitus for over 20 years.)

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  8. #8

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    Hi Steve. Cooledit... i love it. I have the old shareware version. The noise reduction of it is great.
    About level metering, there are four free plugins that are so nice. You could like and maybe can help you to reduce the need of export the audio. Here is an screenshot of two of them working in a midi track:



    The one at right is called "Sonalksys FreeG" and can be downloaded here:

    http://www.sonalksis.com/freeg.htm

    The other is called "Inspector Free". It is really usefull, because it can give you stats about clipping, the stereo distribution, etc. You can found it here:

    http://www.kaosaudio.com/roger-nicho...nspector-free/



    Also you can like the "BlueCat freqAnalyst" that show the levels for each sound frequency:



    http://www.bluecataudio.com/Products...t_FreqAnalyst/


    And Finally, "Sonogram" that show you the intensity of sound with a scrolling piano-roll:



    http://ag-works.net/plugins.sg1.htm


    Well, hope some of this tools could help you.
    Marcelo Colina

  9. #9

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    I do not wish to denigrate anybody's workflow, believe me I have my quirks, and I may be misunderstanding your technique and reasoning, but this seems like alot of extra effort for little return to me.

    If you are expecting SONAR to function as a mastering program I would advise against using it in that capacity. Following previous advice from DPDAN and Randy Bowser (years of experience there in both cases) you can bounce your MIDI tracks to audio, bring levels down to allow for quite a bit of headroom in the audio mix (raise your overall system volume if you have trouble monitoring) then export to SoundForge or something similar to do the mastering (EQ, Compressor and Limiter - etc) and bring the overall (presentation) level up.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  10. #10

    Re: Exporting selected audio in SONAR

    What a great thread!--- Steve, thanks much for explaining in more detail what you're doing - It's very interesting.

    Marce--Wow you come up with the great stuff. That free version of The Inspector was exactly what I was going to show Steve also. Really useful for this kind of analysis - Steve, you can get so much technical data about your tracks using that.

    Cool Edit is very cool - I Do know what you mean, that larger meters can be useful, and to have them horizontal can be useful too. I tie Sound Forge in with Sonar for sound editing work and mastering, like Reberclark was explaining. There's a link inside Sonar which opens up a selected clip in SF without you ever leaving Sonar - You do your edit, close SF, and then you use the new version of that clip in the project. Scott Garrigus who writes the Bibles about using Sonar has info posted at his site about how to set up sound editors so they're hooked up to Sonar like that - It's possible that Cool Edit could be linked that way.

    Here - I did a screen shot of Sonar which may be useful to you during your process. I wanted to show you several things:

    --The Sonar meters can be set for the 60 DB range like you want. They can actually be set to the even higher resolutions of 78 and 90 DBs. The default is 42. When you right click over a meter, you can change its scale.

    --In the shot, you can see the Track Inspector to the left. I always leave that visible since it gives you a track's meter while you're still in Track View.

    --In the track header, there's also a meter which can stretch as high vertically as your monitor allows. That's the strip to the right with all the track controls.

    --I have the Console view moved in some from my second screen. I have it set so that a lot of items aren't visible - all the grayed out icons show that. This way the meter itself can have more focus.

    --I've placed a red arrow on the shot to point out the Waveform Preview button on the Master Bus. With that on, you get a detailed view of the sound as you play back a project. It helps immensely in setting your levels. The default is Off.

    --At the moment when I did this shot for you, I had just peaked out. The peak is displayed on all three meters visible in the shot - the red bar at the top of the meters. And in the Waveform Preview, the area of the audio which is peaking is specifically displayed, again in red.



    OTHER THOUGHTS - You've probably taken this into consideration, but I wanted to mention that watching DB displays don't really let you know what the perceived volume of a recording is. The frequencies of a given sound/instrument determine how loud it seems, how it balances with other instruments. You'll find that some things need to be brought Way down in order to sit right in a mix, even if the meter for that track isn't registering as high as you may think it should.

    I'm sure you know that your experiments are taking a different approach than most people, and that's why we're adding our replies with some degree of puzzlement. Everyone approaches recording differently, and there are always experiments to try. I think that what Reberclark is saying, I know it's what I would also like to suggest, is that even though you're comfortable with a cool, analytical approach, that you'll benefit from trusting your ears more also. I think the best engineers may know the technical aspects of their jobs inside and out, but the bottom line always is how things are sounding coming from the speakers.

    Thanks for the very interesting topic - Hope we've given you some ideas. Keep us posted!
    Randy

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