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Export Audio Mixdown Part 1: Understanding the Settings

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If you ask me how to increase your fan base or make more money out of your music business, I would give you a very important tip: sharing. Your music won't spread if you don't share it. 

The best way to improve your music is by sharing it, and receiving other people’s feedback and reviews. The tracks that you create, edit, mix and master needs to be exported to a common format for other people to listen to. This is where Cubase’s Export Audio Mixdown function is handy. 

In this tutorial, I will show you how to properly use this feature so that your music will be accessible to many more people.

Types Of Channels

Before you get into exporting audio, you need to know about the various types of channels that you have. They are:

Output Channels

Output channel are where all the audio that is routed to the Stereo Out bus is sent. Mixing this channel down will give you a file containing all of the audio data that was sent to the output channel. It also contains other types of output channels that you might have created, like Mono channels, LRCS, 5.1, etc.

Audio Channels

Audio channels contains all the data from the tracks with effects and EQ added. You can select different channels via checkboxes. If you have enabled Channel Batch Export, you have the option to mix each track to different files. You can also use them when you have an effect on a channel that takes up a lot of memory. You can export the track, and then reimport it as an audio file with the effects already added to it, which will greatly reduce the CPU usage. This is similar to the Bounce option in Pro Tools.

Other Channels

Other channels include FX Channels, VST channels, and ReWire Channels. You can use them to reduce CPU usage, or convert the VSTs and ReWire channels into audio files.

Prepare for the Mixdown

The first step in a proper mixdown is to set the locators. You must set the left and right locators to the areas that you need to be mixed. Use the shortcut keys Ctrl+Pad1 for the left locator and Ctrl+Pad2 for the right locator. If you have a selection that needs to be exported, select the section and press P, and the complete selection will be within the range of the locators.

If you find that the color between the locators turns red, it means that the location of the right and left locators are reversed. Exporting audio like this will show the error, “Not enough space on disk available for export.” Switch the positions of the left and right locators, and this problem can be avoided.

Once you have set the locators, you are ready to export. Make sure that you are happy with the sound. This includes all the automation, effects, inserts, etc.

Adjust The Settings

Now click Export > Audio Mixdown  and select the channels you want to mix from the Channel selector. Use Channel Batch Export if you want to export many channels at once. If you have many channels and want to find a single channel, use the Filter to type in the name of the channel.

In the File Name section, you can specify the name of the file and set the location for the file in the Path section. If you have selected Channel Batch Export, the file name will the changed to the prefix for the file names. 

To the right of the file name, you will find two options for naming:

  • Set To Project Name: This will set the file name as the name given to the project.
  • Auto Update Name: This will automatically update the name of the files with each export. It adds sequential numbering to the file each time it is exported. You can switch off this function by select this option again so that the check box besides it will go.

The next section is the File Path, where you will be able to define the location of the file. Onto the right, you can find a pop-up menu. This gives these options:

  • Choose: This opens up a dialog box where you can manually browse to the folder of your preference and type in the name of the file. The name will be automatically changed in the File Name field.
  • Use Project Audio Folder: This exports the audio file into the location where the project is stored. This is useful when you have to send the project files, backups, and rendered audios to the client.
  • Recent Paths: As the name suggests, you can select a previously used location for the file to be stored. You can also clear this list by using the Clear Recent Paths option.

Now select the file format from the drop-down menu. Each format has different options that can be adjusted. The detailed settings of each of these settings will be explained in the second part of this article.

You can activate the Mono Export option if you want to export a channel as a single mono file. The Split Channels option can be used to separate each channel of a bus into different files. For example, if you have a stereo channel, the files will be split into left and right files. Note that the Mono Export option is not available if the Channel Batch Export is activated. If you want to listen to your project in mono while mixing, read this quick tip.

Realtime Playback exports the file as it is played in realtime. This function can be useful if certain plugins or VSTs need to be updated correctly. Activate this option if you find any glitches or errors in the resultant file. But using this option might increase the load on the CPU and can cause errors. If an error occurs, the process is stopped and fewer number of channels are selected and processed. This process is repeated until all the channels are exported and thus can take a long time if there are many tracks and a not too powerful CPU.

The Update Display option can be used to watch the meters for any clipping or for other visual cues.

Import Into Project can be used to import the exported files into the project. Use the Pool option to import the exported files into the audio pool of the project. Activating the Audio Track option will import the files as an audio track into the project. The Create New Project will be activated only for uncompressed audio formats, and if the Use Project Audio Folder function option is deactivated.

Conclusion

With the knowledge you gained from this tutorial, you are at the point where you understand the various options of Cubase’s Export Audio Mixdown feature. In Part 2, you will learn the different formats that Cubase offers and which of them to choose for your project.  

Practice with the various values of these settings, and watch out for the next tutorial to learn how to choose the correct formats and the changes and adjustments that you can make to them.