Music production

What is “Bounce” in music production?


Whether you want to export audio from GarageBand, Ableton, or any DAW, let us familiarize you with what bounce means.

What is the definition of “Bounce“? In music production, bounce refers to the process of extracting your music project from your DAW and placing it into files on your computer’s hard drive. When your tracks are mixed to perfection, it’s time to turn them into a final stereo audio file for the final mastering step.

Bounce is another such music production term that is used without much explanation. It can also refer to creating stems of individual instrument tracks to send out for remixes, samplings, or collaborating with other producers.


How to bounce tracks

The audio bounce process is very similar regardless of which DAW you choose. Make sure you’ve selected the entire track, exactly where you want the song to start and end.

In your DAW, find the Export option, probably under the To file menu.

On Logic Pro, export and bounce are separate options – choose Bounce, because Export is used to export different elements of your project (like MIDI files, for example). If you’re exporting audio from GarageBand, Export is on the Share menu and the process is more basic than more professional DAWs.

The bounce dialog box that opens will have a list of options. Let’s quickly go through a few of them.


File type

You can choose the file type to choose what type your bounced file will take. The most common is WAV (in PCM format), or AIFF if you’re working on a Mac, both are lossless audio types. This means that you can continue working on the audio file afterwards without losing quality.


Bit depth and sample rate

When choosing a shallow and sampling rate, do not set it below the resolution of your song. The result must be as precise as possible.

Keep the sample rate regardless of how the song was created. Bit depth determines dynamic range and noise-to-signal ratio – keep it at 32-bit. To burn to a CD, the bit depth must be 16 bits.

If you are exporting for mastering by someone else or to a mix engineer, first ask if they have a resolution preference.


Tremor

Dithering maintains a wider dynamic range, but adds background noise to help increase precision when bit depth is changed. Tremor is usually chosen when you are no longer working on the file – choose No Dither if you are going to master the track. If you are exporting at a resolution lower than 32 bit, you must choose Dither.


File format

You will have the choice of the format of your bounced file. Interlaced stereo is a standard stereo file. Mono multiple places the stereo mix in the left and right channels and allows each track to be exported separately (Pro Tools uses this format).

Mono is a format without panning information – beware of digital clipping, as the combined stereo signal may be too high.

Not Normalize the file if you are exporting for mastering, as you need to leave some leeway for the master process and normalization will increase the gain of the file.


So those are the basics of what audio bounce means. Always listen to your exported file afterwards, to verify that everything is the way you wanted it and that no bad settings have been checked.

Check out some other music production tips here:


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