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On-cues mark the spot

On-cues mark the spot

Excerpted from “Using Audition” by Ron Dabbs.

In theatrical terms, when something is on cue, it occurs when it is supposed to occur. In Adobe® Audition™, a cue is a point that denotes a particular location such as the beginning of a musical phrase, a track, or an anomaly.

In this tutorial we’ll show you how to make your audio hit its marks just like the most veteran of actors. We’ll begin by discussing cues and the cue list. Next, we’ll look at how to add cues both manually and automatically, Finally, we’ll show you how to create cues using the Delete Silence and Auto-Cue functions.

Get started

Cues are not limited to marking only one location point. A cue can identify a segment of the audio with a beginning point and an ending point. When the cue notes both the beginning and ending points, the cue is said to contain a range. The beginning cue mark or point appears as a small red triangle called a cue handle above and below the waveform. When two or more cue points are merged together to form a range, the ending cue handle turns blue, and both cue handles turn to point to each other as shown below.


Merged cue points create a range from the beginning cue mark to the ending cue mark.

Before we discuss creating, placing, and modifying cues and ranges, let’s look at the Cue List window.

Cue List window

The Cue List window enables management of cues. Adding, deleting, merging, sorting, and modifying cues and ranges can be done from the window. The window is displayed by pressing Alt+8 or selecting Window>Cue List.

Column Bar Runs along the top of the cue list window. Sort cues by clicking on any of the headings. The sequence of the headings can be rearranged by dragging the heading horizontally.

Edit Cue Info Brings up the cue information and allows you to edit the Begin, End, Length, Label, Description, and Type fields.

Auto-Play Automatically plays the highlighted cue when enabled.

Add Adds cues to the cue list.

Del Deletes a cue from the cue list.

Merge Creates a cue range from the highlighted cues.

Batch Displays the Batch Process Cue Ranges dialog box in preparation to save the cue ranges to discrete files.


The Cue List window shows the four different types of cues. Cue 2 has an end time and is called a range. Cue information can be edited directly in the Cue List window.

Manual cue placement

There are a number of ways to create or place cue marks. Let’s look at some of the different methods.

Cue from the keyboard

The quickest and easiest way to place a basic cue mark is to locate the cursor at the desired location on the waveform or clip and press F8. Note that the cue handle and label may be hidden by the cursor.

Cue from the mouse

Placing cue points with the mouse is almost as easy as from the keyboard. Locate the cursor at the desired spot and right-click on the yellow triangle, called the cursor handle. A pop-up menu presents the options. Select the desired cue type.

Auto-cue placement

Now we’re going to put Adobe Audition to work for us using the Delete Silence and Auto-Cue functions.

Use Delete Silence to place cues

To start, we’re going to make cues from a wave file. The trick here is that we are going to do it “automatically.” Make sure that Adobe Audition is opened and in the Edit View workspace. Close any open files or sessions.

  1. Select File>Open and open a .wav file that contains several areas of dead time.

  2. Press Alt+8 to open the Cue List window.

  3. Drag the Cue List window by the title bar and dock it above the waveform display. This will keep the window visible without overlapping the waveform display.

  4. Select Edit>Delete Silence and make sure that Mark Deletions in Cue List is checked and the Limit Continuous Silence to vale is 150 milliseconds.

  5. Press the Scan for Silence Now button and note the number of silent locations and total seconds of silence. This is the amount of time that will be deleted from the waveform length shown in Selection/View Controls.

  6. Press the Find Levels button. Notice that the signal will be considered as silence any time the signal falls below –63.5dB for more than 140 milliseconds.

  7. Click OK.

The Delete Silence function has removed the dead time and marked the beginning of each phrase with a basic cue mark.

Use Auto-Cue to place cues

Now we are going to leave the dead time intact and make each cue a range. Adobe Audition should be open and in the Edit View mode. Close any open files or sessions.

  1. Select File>Open and open another .wav file that contains several areas of dead time.

  2. If the Cue List window if not already open, press Alt+8 to open the Cue List window and dock it above the waveform display.

  3. Select Edit>Auto-Cue>Auto-Cue Settings.

  4. Click the Find Levels button. Notice that only signal above –58.8dB for a duration of at least 25 milliseconds will be considered as valid audio. Click OK.

  5. Select Edit>Auto-Cue>Find Phrases and Mark.

Choosing the Find Phrases and Mark option uses the values determined by the Find Levels function to locate the beginning and ending of each phrase. Since the function located both a start and end point, the cue points were merged into a range. Note that unlike cues, ranges display an End time value in the Cue List window.


Cues can be modified from either the Cue List window or the waveform display. Using the Find Phrases and Mark function creates a range for each segment of audio.

Create ranges

We’ve just seen how ranges can be created automatically, but what if we want to create a range from other cues? It’s simple, but there are some limits. Only two ranges can be merged at a time. Cues are not held to that rule. You can combine as many cues as you want at one time.

The Cue List window makes it simple to create or merge cues. Highlight the cues that will be combined by dragging over them or holding down the Shift key and highlighting the desired cues. Use the Control key to select nonsequential cues or to deselect cues. Click the Merge button in the Cue List window. The new cue range will retain the properties of the first cue point and inherit an end time. The later cue point will cease to exist as a cue.

Let’s look at another way to create a range.

Use Adjust Selection to Phrase

We are going to work with a .wav file that contains several areas of dead time once again. Adobe Audition should be in the Edit View mode. Close any open files or sessions.

  1. If the Cue List window if not already open, press Alt+8 to open the Cue List window and dock it above the waveform display.

  2. Right-click in the Organizer window, choose Import, and locate your .wav file. Drag the file from the Organizer window into the Waveform Display.

  3. Highlight one of the phrases in the waveform. It doesn’t matter which one, and you do not need to be careful how close your selection is to the phrase as long as the selection does not include any other phrase.

  4. Select Edit>Auto-Cue>Adjust Selection to Phrase. The selection area should have contracted around the phrase.

  5. Press F8.

The Cue List window should now show a range labeled Cue 1. You can create a range from a selected area any time by pressing F8 or one of the other cue mark placement keys.

Modify cues and ranges

Cues can be modified through the Cue List window or in the Waveform Display area. To change cues in the Cue List window, press the Edit Cue Info button and enter the changes in the appropriate fields. Changing the length will alter the end point but not the beginning. A dropdown menu permits changing the cue type. Highlight the Label and Description fields and type the information to change them. Clicking the Add or Del buttons will add or delete highlighted cues respectively.

Unless the exact time location or length is known, moving cues in the waveform display may be easier. To resize the cue, place the cursor over the cue handle. When the cursor shape changes to a hand, hold the left mouse button down and drag to the desired position. You can also right-click on the cue handle to access other options from a pop-up menu. These options include opening the Cue List window, changing the cue type, and deleting the cue. The menu is contextual, meaning that if the cue is a range, an option will be present to change the range into a cue point. If the cue is not a range, the option Make Range will be shown.