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Audacity: Splitting & Panning Tracks

Audacity, Version: 3.1.3. Be aware that different versions of Audacity will vary in appearance and functionality.


The two types of audio tracks are mono and stereo. Mono tracks look like one waveform whereas stereo tracks look like two waveforms stacked on top of each other. The two waveforms in stereo tracks, called channels, are for the left and right side of speakers/headphones.



The balance between the speakers is called the pan, and is set to center by default; an equal balance between left and right. The pan can be adjusted to the left or right side on both mono and stereo tracks within the track controls. Since stereo tracks have a channel for each side, however, they have the unique ability to create an effect called panning: audio moving back and forth between the left and right side to create the illusion of 3D space. An example of panning would be audio of a train moving from the left to right speaker to emulate it passing by. Keyframing is used to create a panning effect, in which one track fades out as the other fades in (see Audacity: Fading & Adjust Volume in Specific Sections (Keyframing) for more details).

To create the panning effect on a stereo track:
  1. Click the drop-down menu in the track controls for the track and select “Split Stereo Track” to separate the two channels into separate tracks. The audio will now be in two tracks, which are noted as “Left” and “Right” in the track controls.

  2. Switch to the Envelope Tool, which looks like two stacked triangles with a line in between. This will enable keyframing.

  3. Click on the blue volume control line for the clip within the Left track, the top track, to create two keyframes. These will be used to fade out the clip:
    • Keyframe 1: The start of the fade-out, at full volume.
    • Keyframe 2: The end of the fade-out.
  4. Click on the blue volume control line for the clip within the Right track, the bottom track, to create two keyframes. These will be used to fade in the clip:
    • Keyframe 1: The start of the fade-in, at approximately the same time as the end of the fade-out of the Left track.
    • Keyframe 2: The end of the fade-in, back to full volume.
  5. Click-and-drag the keyframes left/right to change the timing, and up/down to change the volume, as desired.
  6. When done, switch back to the Selection Tool to exit keyframing. Keyframes can be modified again at any time with the Envelope Tool.
Reducing the volume of one side while simultaneously increasing the volume of the other will sound like the audio moves from the left to right speaker. Don’t completely fade either side out as that will make the panning less effective and may make the listener think their headphones/speakers are broken.




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Keywords:Audacity, workshop, software, production, guide, editing, audio, splitting, panning   Doc ID:86091
Owner:Misty B.Group:Pacific Lutheran University
Created:2018-09-27 12:14 PDTUpdated:2022-04-12 11:06 PDT
Sites:Pacific Lutheran University
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