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Can a butt edit sometimes be better than a crossfade?

Suppose you wanted to make a compilation of extracts of tracks from an album. You could butt edit them together, if you choose not to crossfade. But there's a good way to do it, and a better way...

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Suppose you have made an album, in breaks you have somehow managed to take from continually upgrading your studio. You might want to make a 60-second sampler track that shows off the best of all of your work. Just the thing to take with you to MIDEM.

You could crossfade the segments together. But that can be a little messy, uncomfortable on the ear, and - let's face it - it can be the easy way out.

Butt editing therefore can be a better solution. There are no crossfades and one track can flow seamlessly into the next.

In general, the best way to do this is to edit on the first beat of the bar on each outgoing segment, and also on the first beat of the bar of each incoming segment.

Sometimes however this doesn't work. For instance, the vocal could anticipate the first beat of the bar, and you don't want to cut it off.

Here is an interesting example. The tracks are both from around 1990ish as this was a period where the beat was strong and regular, and it makes the demonstration very clear...

butt-edit.mp3

The edit comes just before 0.22.

The edit here is clean and on the beat. But the bar structure is not maintained. Here is another edit where both the outgoing and incoming segments have been edited at the start of Beat 4 of the bar...

butt-edit-better.mp3

See how much more smoothly the music flows?

In fact you can edit on any two similar points in the bar structure and this will usually work. Of course, butt editing tracks that are at very different tempi is another matter altogether.

Happy butt editing!

P.S. The tracks are Ride On Time by Black Box, and Doin' The Do by Betty Boo.

By David Mellor Friday April 20, 2012
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