Insider Tips: Separate Dialogue with Final Cut Pro’s Audio Notch Filter

Every week, Insider asks one of our expert contributors to share a tip, tool, or technique that they use all the time and couldn’t live without. This week, Reuben Evans uses a notch filter to separate music and dialogue in Final Cut Pro.

Clean up your dialogue mix in Final Cut Pro using a notch filter

Whether it’s an interview or a narrative, nothing transforms a scene like music. But you may have discovered that sometimes the music and the dialogue end up fighting each other.

You can painstakingly keyframe your audio around phrases, but there’s a much easier way—FCP’s notch filter. A notch filter (named for its frequency curve) uses an equalizer (EQ) to adjust the background music around the frequencies of your speaker. In practice, this allows you to reduce the parts of the music that are similar to your dialogue.

To deploy a notch filter, drop some music under the dialogue in your timeline and reduce the music volume to the required level. Open your Effect panel (Cmd+5), select the EQ section and search for “Linear Phase EQ.” Drag this onto your clip and click the control button in the Inspector.

You can now pull down the frequencies around the voice, which is probably around the 1kHz frequency. Final Cut Pro allows you to play back the audio while you adjust the EQ, so you can tinker with it until it sounds great.

Bear in mind that you’ve effectively reduced the overall volume of your music and might need to bring it back. But at least it won’t be in conflict with your vocals now.

It’s quick, easy, and one of the best ways to clean up your music and vocal mix in Final Cut Pro—especially for interviews and voice-overs.

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Screenshots from Amazing Grace (due for release in 2024). Courtesy of Visuals 1st Films, LLC.

Reuben Evans

Reuben Evans is an award-winning screenwriter, executive producer at Faithlife, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. He has produced and directed numerous documentaries and commercials. Reuben’s tools of choice are RED Cameras, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. He writes for Insider and is part of the Blade Ronner Media writers network. Reuben resides in Washington state with his wife, four kids, and one crazy goldendoodle puppy named Baker.

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