Know Your Waveforms

Know Your Waveforms

May 31, 2009
in Category: production, tutorials
2 7686 0

Know your waveforms. The first step to audio editing on a computer, is to know what the hell you are looking at. Unlike hardware that forces you to listen to the audio, with a waveform in front of you, it’s easy to chop up samples, or see mistakes (like tracks that need compression).

when you open up an audio file with your software, it will look something like this. This particular sound is a recording of drums. You can actually tell where the different hits are without listening to the audio. This is one of the many advantages of using a computer.
after selecting just one hit of that drum recording, you can zoom in and see a little more detail. If you look close enough, the hit is actually a jagged line going above and below the thin blue line (which represents silence) in the very middle.
Nothing recorded in nature is perfect (like this drum), so this is what an “organic” sample looks like. Zoom in close enough and you can see a full “cycle” of the soundwave.. that means it goes above the line, then under it.. each starting and ending in the same place
there are actual terms for the line going above (higher air pressure) or below (lower air pressure) the line (normal air pressure). when the air pressure is high, that’s the compression. when it’s low, thats the rarefaction. pretty simple.
this is a different way to look at a waveform. the black represents the air pressure. imagine looking straight down at a bouncing ball. when it gets close to your face, thats compression, when it hits the ground, thats the rarefaction.


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