Mixing Tracks

Now that you have a narration track, you might want to start the podcast with a little theme music. Go ahead and drag a jingle from the Apple Loop into the Jingle Track.

 If both of the tracks start at the beginning of the timeline, it probably won't sound right. Instead, we will show how to start the podcast with music, play that for a few seconds, then fade it out and continue fading as your narration starts. Fades are key in creating smooth transitions between different audio segments.

two tracks that will be mixed

Your first step is to drag your narration several seconds down the timeline so that the song will play first, then the narration will start. Simply select the audio segment and drag it to the right. If you have several segments in the same track, be sure to select all of them by pressing the Shift button as you click each one or press the track head once.

one track shifted relative to the other

Next, you should change the audio levels of the music so that it starts at a normal level and then fades away as the narration begins. There are two methods to do this in GarageBand. One is using a method called "ducking" that makes the process somewhat automatic. We don't recommend this because it is awkward and difficult to control. Instead, you should directly manipulate the volume of each track, controlling the timing and volume as you prefer.

To do this, click on the little inverted triangle button in your track header, just below the name of your track. Another "volume track" called "Track Volume" will appear below the track you're working with. This shows your volume level for the duration of the track.

revealing the volume track

Right now, the volume is the same from beginning to end, so the volume line is a straight line. But if you click once on that line, a little marker will appear.

click to create a volume node

Click again to make another marker. Then click and drag that marker up or down. If you pull that second marker all the way down, you've created a basic fade.

 click to create a second node to change volume

You can drag the markers left or right to adjust the timing, up and down to adjust the volume. And you can add as many markers as you'd like, if, say, you wanted a sudden fade from loud to soft. One caution about markers: some users have noticed that adding too many markers can hurt the sound quality. So use only as many markers as are necessary to achieve your fade effect.

To delete a marker, simply click once on the marker, then press the Delete button.

Here is an example of how you might fade the music (the blue track) into the background as the narration (the purple track) begins. Notice how the volume level of the music track decreases from normal level to silence.

what a fade looks like

Now, if you press Return to go to the beginning of the Timeline and then press Spacebar to begin playing, you should hear the music play normally and then fade out as the narration begins. You can fine tune the volume markers as needed. As you gain more experience and ambition, you can begin to work with more and more tracks.

Working with Individual Tracks

If at some point you have several tracks but only want to work with one or a few, press the little headphones button in the head of the track(s) you want to work with. That will mute all other tracks. In the example below, the Jingle track's yellow headphone icon is lit up. The Test Track is grayed out, and would not be heard if you played the project.

isolating a track

Once you're done editing, be sure to listen to your entire mix all the way through so that it sounds the way you want it. This is especially important if you produce a long podcast, in which mistakes can easily be buried throughout the recording.

You can control the master volume of the entire project using the slider at the bottom right section of the GarageBand Window. And be sure to keep an eye on the master sound levels, located just above that volume slider. Make sure that the levels are neither too low nor too high, and make adjustments as necessary.

 master levels for the project

Don't forget to save your project!