Assigning Multiple Audio Tracks to Multiple Audio Outputs

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the May, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Normally, Final Cut Pro provides two-channel (stereo) audio output. However, new with Final Cut Pro HD was the ability to output up to 24 channels of audio — if you changed a few settings.

Here’s what you need to know.

First, tell Final Cut how many channels you want to output by going to:
Sequence > Settings > Audio Output tab

From the pop-up menu, select how many channels you wish to output. In this example, I’ve selected eight. (Keep in mind that normal FireWire output is two tracks. You’ll need to purchase additional hardware to support more than two tracks of audio in or out.)

Then, you choose whether each pair of outputs will be stereo or dual-channel mono. In this case, I selected two stereo pairs and four mono tracks. (By the way, unless you are told to change this by someone who knows what they are talking about, setting the audio gain of a dual channel mono track to -3dB is correct.)

Once you’ve told FCP how many audio output tracks you want, you can view them in the audio mixer.

However, unless you have the ability to monitor all eight tracks, you’ll only hear the first two when you play your sequence. If you want to hear the mix of all your tracks as stereo, click the Downmix button just about all the audio meters in the mixer.

Finally, you need to assign each of your audio tracks to an output. To do this, control+click BETWEEN the patch panel and the padlock icon for each track. From the pop-up menu, select the output you want to use for each track. In this example, I’m outputting audio track 4 to output 4.

One more note, in Final Cut Pro you can’t assign one audio track to multiple outputs. One track can only go to one output. If you need to send a track to multiple outputs, you need to mix your audio in Soundtrack Pro, which can handle this easily.

Creating multiple outputs is useful if you want to save all your tracks as discrete files in a Quicktime movie, or you have a multi-track surround mix and want to output each track individually.

The new Soundtrack Pro 2 adds a new dimension to multi-track output with surround sound. But, since that hasn’t shipped yet, now you know how to handle it in Final Cut Pro itself.


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