Ways to view audio clips

When you work with audio waveforms in the Timeline, you can zoom in or out or change the clip appearance to make the waveform taller or shorter.

Final Cut Pro also includes several ways of viewing and working with audio and video within clips. You can:

  • Expand a clip to view and edit audio components down to the individual channel level.

  • Expand a clip to see separate audio and video.

  • Detach audio from a video clip to work on the audio and video as separate clips.

  • Change the background appearance of a clip to show reference waveforms, which make it easier to see audio waveforms when the volume is diminished.

Show expanded audio components

You can expand the audio portion of clips in Final Cut Pro to view and edit audio components.

You can show expanded audio components for synchronized clips, multicam clips, and compound clips.

Do one of the following:

  • Select the clip in the Timeline, and choose Clip > Expand Audio Components (or press Control-Option-S).

  • Double-click the audio portion of the clip in the Timeline while holding down the Option key.

    Clip in Timeline shown before and after audio components are expanded

Collapse audio components

Do one of the following:

  • Select either the clip or one of its audio components in the Timeline, and choose Clip > Collapse Audio Components (or press Control-Option-S).

  • Double-click any of the audio components in the Timeline while holding down the Option key.

Show expanded audio and video

You can view audio and video separately in the same clip in the Timeline by expanding clips that have both audio and video. This can be useful if you need to zoom in to the audio portion to make edits or to make a split edit.

Note: If you create a split edit so that audio portions overlap, you won’t clearly see the overlapped waveforms unless you choose to show expanded audio for split clips.

  • To expand a single clip: Double-click the audio waveform of the clip.

  • To expand a clip or clips you’ve selected in the Timeline: Choose Clip > Expand Audio/Video (or press Control-S).

  • To expand all clips or all split clips in the Timeline: Choose View > Expand Audio/Video Clips, and choose an option from the submenu.

    Clip in Timeline before and after audio components are expanded

When you show expanded audio, the audio and video portions of the clip remain attached to each other. To create a separate connected audio clip, detach the audio. You can also use the Precision Editor to see a detached view of the video and audio portions of the clip.

Collapse audio and video

You can collapse the expanded audio/video view for a single clip, multiple clips, or all clips in the Timeline.

  • To collapse a single clip: Double-click the audio waveform of the clip.

  • To collapse a clip or clips you’ve selected in the Timeline: Choose Clip > Collapse Audio/Video (or press Control-S).

  • To collapse all expanded clips in the Timeline: Choose View > Collapse All Clips.

Detach audio from video

By default, Final Cut Pro imports audio and video from the same source into one clip. You can easily detach the audio from a video clip so that you can edit the audio clip separately in the Timeline.

A new audio clip appears as a connected clip beneath the video clip.

Clip in Timeline after audio portion is detached

To reattach an audio clip to its original video clip, you need to create a compound clip.

Show or hide reference waveforms

A reference waveform shows the maximum visual resolution possible for the actual audio waveform. By factoring out loudness changes, reference waveforms let you see the details of the sound more clearly.

  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > Preferences, and click Editing.

  2. Select the “Show reference waveforms” checkbox.

    Clip in Timeline with reference waveform shown

When the actual waveform changes shape (for example, when it is diminished because a clip’s volume level is low), its full reference waveform is still visible for easy reference when editing.

Tip: You can place any clip with audio either above or below the primary storyline in the Timeline. If your clip contains video and is placed below the primary storyline, the video may be obscured by the video in the primary storyline, but the audio will play. If you put the clip above the primary storyline, the audio plays and the video also plays (instead of the video in the primary storyline).