How to create a fade in Pro Tools (plus other FAQs)

Creating fades is often one of the first techniques new Pro Tools engineers learn, and they’re absolutely essential for giving your audio projects a “polished” sound. 

So, whether you’re brand-new to the world of audio editing or you’re transitioning to Pro Tools from another DAW, this is one of your essential tutorials. Read on to learn how to apply fades to any audio clips inside of Pro Tools.  

What is a fade in Pro Tools?

A fade is a type of transition that allows you to slowly raise or lower the volume of a track over a specific period of time. Cross-fades can also be used to seamlessly transition between two clips without any distracting noises. 

How to create a fade-in Pro Tools

The best way to create fades in Pro Tools is by using the Smart Tool, a super handy tool that allows you to trim, select, or grab clips depending on where you place the tool. 

Step 1: Activate the “Smart Tool” by pressing the F7 and F8 keys simultaneously. 

Step 2: Click and drag the Smart Tool over the clip area where you want to create a fade to select it. 

Step 3: Open the “Fades” options menu using the shortcut listed in the FAQs below. 

Step 4: Select the type of fade you want to use.

Under “Default Fade Settings…” in the “Fades” options menu, you’ll see several standard fade options. The three you’ll be using most frequently will be fade in, fade out, or cross-fade. 

Step 5: Select the shape of fade you want to use.

Once you pick your type of fade, you’ll be presented with a new options menu that looks like a line graph. This is the shape of your fade.

You can choose either “Standard” or “S-Curve” for your fade. The standard shape allows for an even fade, while the s-curve means a much quicker fade in or fade out. Determine the length of the fade you want to use.

Step 6: Press the “Audition” button to hear what your fade will sound like before applying it.

Step 7: Once you’re satisfied with your fade, click “OK” to apply it to your clip. 

And now you’ve created a seamless fade for your clip!

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Common FAQs about fades

What is the shortcut for fades in Pro Tools?

There are a couple of shortcuts you can use to help you create fades. 

First, to open the “Fades” options menu, use Ctrl/Cmd + F. This will allow you to select the type of fade you want to apply manually.

To apply a cross-fade without opening the menu, press Cmd + Ctrl + F (Mac) or Ctrl + Start + F (Windows). This will use the last applied fade shape and apply it to the location of your cursor. 

To add a “fade to start” on a selected clip, press Ctrl/Start + D.

To add a “fade to end” on a selected clip, press Ctrl/Start + G.

How do you fade a track after a trim in Pro Tools?

To fade a track after a trim in Pro Tools, use the “Smart Tool” to select the end of the trimmed clip, then open the “Fades” options menu and click “Fade Out…” under the “Default Fade Settings” section. 

When would you use fade out?

“Fade outs” are typically used at the very end of a project when you want to slowly taper down the audio to create a seamless finish. You can also use them to gradually phase out individual clips or instrument tracks in a mix to make the mix sound more seamless. 

How do you use fade-in transition?

“Fade ins” are typically used at the beginning of an audio project to create a smooth entry sound. Without a fade-in, the audio starts abruptly, sometimes with an errant click or buzz that can be jarring to the listener. It can also be used to introduce new elements into a mix without that same harsh sound. 

Final thoughts

Fades are essential for making audio tracks sound seamless and polished. You’ll likely find that over time, applying them will become almost muscle memory, and you’ll develop your own preferences for length and timing. Mastering the fader technique is a necessary step towards producing professional-quality audio edits and mixes. 

And if you’re looking for a better way to collaborate remotely with your audio production team, stop trying to stream Pro Tools over Zoom. Instead, leverage Evercast, the platform that allows you to stream your Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, or even Garageband edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team.

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