HomeAudio Production→ How to Crossfade in GarageBand: Step-by-Step Tutorial
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T Mango

04 August, 2022

How to Crossfade in GarageBand: Step-by-Step Tutorial


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Crossfading is a useful technique in sound production. It consists of a fade-out and a fade-in that are combined to offer seamless transitions between regions of an audio recording.

You may need to crossfade:

  • If you’re a podcaster mixing down to one track, and you need an episode split to insert a sponsored segment or a fixed intro
  • If you’re recording music and you want to combine different instruments, vocal takes, or reuse audio files from previous sessions into a single track
  • Whenever an audio file stops, for whatever reason, in your audio project and you need to splice back regions of audio as seamlessly as possible

Crossfading is very easy to do in digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Logic Pro but is a bit more involved in GarageBand. In this post, we’ll take you through step-by-step, how to set up crossfades in GarageBand.

What is GarageBand?

GarageBand is Apple’s free DAW that’s available to anyone who owns a computer running Mac OS (i.e., Macs, iMacs, or Macbooks).

GarageBand is an incredibly powerful DAW that offers audio tracking and editing functionality, MIDI recording and editing, and a range of other audio production tools. But its capabilities go far beyond basic recording and editing; as a stripped-back version of Logic Pro, Apple’s flagship professional-standard DAW, it offers comparable functionality to many paid DAWs available today.

One downside of GarageBand, however, is that it’s a Mac-exclusive product, so it’s not available for computers running Windows.

If you own a Mac, GarageBand may already be pre-installed, but if not, it’s easy to download from the Apple store.

What is a Crossfade in GarageBand?

A crossfade is simply a combination of a fade-in and a fade-out to create a seamless transition between regions of an audio file. It’s a useful technique to use when:

  • A track consists of different regions that have been joined together, especially if it sounds like there’s a sudden cut between regions
  • Two versions of the same track have been combined (e.g., two vocal takes during a recording session)
  • A track needs to be cut to allow the insertion of another region of the track

In these cases, the crossover from one region of the track to another can result in a clicking sound, stray pops, or other sonic artifacts that detract from the final production. Crossfades can help to alleviate these by creating a smoother transition between the connecting regions.

In this post, we’ll assume you’re familiar with how to fade in and fade out in GarageBand—if you’re not, it’s easy to learn how by reading How to Fade Out in GarageBand: Step-by-Step Tutorial.

Keep in mind that fading in and out in GarageBand can be applied either to individual tracks or to a whole song (i.e., using the Master Track). When working with crossfades, however, you’ll usually be working with individual tracks in your song or production.

How to Duplicate a Track in GarageBand

As mentioned, tracks consisting of different regions that have been joined together can benefit from crossfades. For these types of tracks, you’ll need to duplicate the track before you can apply crossfades:

Step 1: Select the track that you want to duplicate

  • Click on the track’s header

Step 2: Make a duplicate copy of the track

  • Select Track > New Track With Duplicate Settings

Shortcut:  COMMAND-D to duplicate a track

How to Crossfade in GarageBand

How to Cut a Song in GarageBand

Sometimes, your song or audio files may consist of tracks that need to be cut into different regions and joined in various ways.

Step 1: Select the point at which you want to cut your track

  • Move the playhead to the point on the track at which you want to make the cut

Step 2: Apply the cut

  • Place your cursor near the point to be cut, right-click, and select Split at Playhead

Move playhead to point that you want to cut, right-click, and select Split at Playhead

Tip: You can also apply a cut by using:

  • COMMAND-T
  • Edit > Split Regions at Playhead

How to Crossfade in GarageBand

Now that we’ve seen how to duplicate and cut tracks, let’s look at how to crossfade in both cases.

Crossfading Duplicated Tracks in GarageBand

When you duplicate a track in Garageband, the duplicate copy will be empty and ready to take on regions, or audio clips, of your original track.

Step 1: Drag down the region to be crossfaded

  • Identify the region to which you want to apply crossfading
  • Drag down the region from the original track to the duplicate track

Step 2: Create an overlap between regions in the original and duplicate tracks

  • Extend the crossfading regions at one side, or either side, of the crossfade point for the original and duplicate tracks—this allows time for the crossfade to occur, i.e., as the fade gradually lowers in the fading out region, and gradually increases in the fading in region

Drag down region to be crossfaded and create an overlap

Step 3: Activate automation

  • Activate automation for the tracks by selecting Mix > Show Automation
  • Ensure that the automation menu is set for volume changes
  • Note the yellow volume lines that appear for the tracks

Activate automation and show the volume lines

Step 4: Create volume points

  • Create four volume points, two in the fading out region (original) and two in the fading in region (duplicate)
  • Make sure to locate the points within the overlapping area of the crossfading regions

Create volume points across fading out and fading in regions

Step 5: Set up the crossfade

  • In the fade-out region, drag the right-most volume point down to the zero point of the volume line
  • In the fade-in region, drag the left-most volume point to zero on the volume line

Drag volume points to set up crossfade

Tip: If dragging a volume point causes a skew in the section of volume line adjacent to the point (rather than bringing the whole section of line down to zero), try grabbing a point on the line just next to the volume point and dragging that instead

You’ve now created your first crossfade!

Listen to the newly crossfaded tracks—you may need to adjust the time of the crossfade (i.e., the slope of the volume lines) to improve pacing and produce a better result if it doesn’t sound quite right.

You’ll also need to repeat the process at the other end of the crossfade region to complete the crossfade (see step 4 in the next section).

Crossfading Cut Tracks in GarageBand

To crossfade cut tracks in GarageBand, the process is similar to crossfading duplicate tracks, you’ll just need to move your regions around depending on where you’ve made your cuts and where you want to crossfade.

Step 1: Separate the cut regions

  • Separate regions in the cut track to make space for the crossfade region (i.e., the region being spliced back into the cut track) by selecting and dragging

Step 2: Move the crossfade region into position

  • Select and drag the crossfade region into position
  • Ensure that there’s an overlap to allow enough time for the crossfade to occur

Separate cut regions and move crossfade region into position

Step 3: Activate automation and set up the crossfade using volume points

  • Activate automation (select Mix > Show Automation) and ensure that the automation menu is set for volume changes
  • Set up four volume points and locate them within the overlapping area of the crossfading regions
  • In the fade-out region, drag the right-most volume point down to zero, and in the fade-in region drag the left-most volume point to zero

Activate automation and set up the crossfade using volume points

Step 4: Repeat step 3 at the other end of the crossfade region

  • Having crossfaded into the crossfade region in step 3, repeat the process to crossfade back out to the main track

Repeat crossfade process at other end of crossfade region

You’ve now completed a fully crossfaded region! Notice how the shape of the completed crossfade looks a bit like an X, i.e., a cross, which is what gives the cross-fade its name.

Conclusion

Crossfading is a great technique for combining regions of audio tracks into one audio file seamlessly. It helps to eliminate the stray sounds that can creep in when these regions are joined.

And while crossfading isn’t as straightforward in GarageBand as it is in DAWs like Logic Pro, it can be done quite easily using the steps outlined in this post.

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